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How To Become a Better Upskilling Candidate

A man wearing safety glasses, ear protection, hard hat and a reflective vest enters information into an overhead terminal.

The Baby Boomer Generation has begun to retire — and as they do — a growing skills gap is emerging. In the industrial space there is a shortage of welders, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC workers, among others. In response, companies are beginning to offer their employees training opportunities designed to expand a worker’s skillset so they can take on roles that are becoming increasingly difficult to staff. It’s called upskilling.

Aerotek Delivery Solutions Executive Chris Rogers notes that upskilling is an investment in the future — not only for employers but also for employees. It helps employers keep up in fast-changing industries while employees gain new proficiencies and potentially higher income.

Rogers offers a few suggestions on how workers can make themselves a better upskilling candidate and what to consider before beginning additional training.

Stand out with the right qualities

Companies can’t afford to upskill every employee. Therefore, they must focus on those who have the right mix of hard and soft skills they value. Hard skills are distinct technical abilities that can be measured — like proficiency operating specific software or equipment. Soft skills are your interpersonal traits that allow you to communicate, work with others and solve problems. What qualities do employers typically look for in an upskilling candidate?


Reliability is extremely important soft skill. Employers look for candidates who consistently show up on time and have few gaps in their employment history. If your work history is spotty, focus on being punctual and available for extra shifts. This shows initiative and can be the foundation of building your reputation as a reliable worker.

How you perform in your current position is also critical. Upskilling is all about giving you an opportunity to improve professionally. Workers that consistently meet their production or performance goals are more likely to offered enrichment opportunities.

Make sure it's the right skill

Before agreeing to learn a new skill, you should consider whether it fits your career goals. Rogers suggests asking yourself “Am I willing to commit the time and effort to do it? Is this a skill I want?” Being highlighted as a worker with potential is flattering but be sure the upskilling program being offered focuses on a skill you need to advance your career.

Make sure you have the time

Scheduling is also an important element to consider before accepting an upskilling opportunity. Learn the details of the program and understand when and where the training will take place. Some upskilling programs may even have virtual elements you can complete away from the jobsite. Working with your employer to identify any scheduling conflicts saves you both time.

You should take all these factors into account before deciding whether to accept the offer. For many, the chance to learn a new skill — along with increased pay — are plenty of reasons to jump at the opportunity.

To close their skill gaps, companies need to invest in the workers they believe have long-term potential. Upskilling is becoming an increasingly popular method to get this done. It’ll take time for employers to fully develop their upskilling programs, but you can start preparing yourself to be an ideal candidate now.

Interested in learning new skills? Search our job board today.