Covid-19: Why it’s the ideal time for upskilling and reskilling with digital skills

Brush up on your digital skills or pick up a new one while in lockdown. Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

By U2B Staff 

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Gwendolyn Faraday always had an interest in coding, building her first site in the early 2000s and taking coding and digital skills modules during her time in college when she was studying engineering. 

However, she initially struggled to build a career in coding, feeling frustrated that she didn’t have the right skills. 

Writing on FreeCodeCamp, Faraday explained that she first worked as a restaurant manager, and then as a salesperson while taking care of her grandmother and other personal obligations. The years just flew by, she observed. 

In 2015, Faraday told herself that it was the year she would master coding. After researching which technologies she needed to upskill herself in the computer language that’s used to develop apps, websites and software, she decided on FreeCodeCamp. 

The programme reignited her passion for coding, giving her the skills, knowledge and confidence to embark on a whole new career when she landed her first job as a web developer. 

Today, Faraday is an established software engineer, author, speaker and founder of her own content portal, Faraday Academy  where she writes and uploads videos on programming weekly. She stands as an inspirational example of someone who successfully upskilled themselves to further their career.

Sir Peter Estlin, Chair of FutureDotNow, a UK-based company that brings organisations together to motivate people and businesses across the UK to boost their digital skills has put it succinctly: “We are, without a doubt, in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The boundaries between different industries are becoming blurred, just as our physical, biological and digital worlds are fusing together.”

Taking the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis into account, this quote rings especially true – whether you’re a digital native or digital immigrant. 

With all levels of organisations working from home and companies relying heavily on technology to adapt in these turbulent times, it’s never been a better time to upskill or reskill yourself in digital skills.

Digital skills is a broad term, a catchall that includes the skills related to technologies like digital marketing, data analytics, coding, web development, artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and so much more. 

When it comes to deciding which digital skills you want to consider developing, the easiest guiding factor is that they should be in line with your career goals. 

For example: if you’ve lost your job in marketing after working the same job for many years and are now competing with more digital-savvy job candidates, then perhaps you need to look at taking an online executive education course in digital marketing to upskill yourself.

You might want to switch to a new career completely which requires you to build your own website. In that case, you may want to consider reskilling yourself in digital skills like website development or even coding.


Banking and finance are also industries that need to ensure its workers are upskilling or reskilling themselves with digital skills, and this extends to those working in retail, and food and beverage.

Lum Kar Hoe, Senior Manager, Financial Services, PwC Malaysia, recently wrote, “As the country’s projected GDP growth may shrink in 2020, consumers are expected to further tighten their purse strings on non-essential spending.

“Future digital banks will have a role to play. They are likely to form various partnerships with retailers. With their insights on consumer spending patterns, they will be able to direct consumers towards promotions on their partners’ platforms. 

Analytics tools and platforms may provide personalised information that allows consumers to change their spending and savings habits.”

How to go about upskilling or reskilling yourself in digital skills

So how do you go about upskilling or reskilling yourself once you’ve identified which digital skills you need?

Given the current pandemic, one popular option is to enrol in online courses on platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, FutureLearn, and EdX. 

Coursera is currently offering 100 free online courses until the end of May, while many other platforms and universities have also announced discounts and are offering online courses for free. 


According to Forbes, the Machine Learning online course offered by Stanford University on Coursera is the most popular online course with 2.9 million students enrolled.

The introductory course covers machine learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition, and offers a look into how machine learning and AI lead to innovation in Silicon Valley – making it an ideal choice for those looking to reskill or upskill themselves in data science.

You could also enrol in an online Masters degree programme if you’re looking to upskill or reskill yourself and work towards becoming a leader or expert in your field.

However, be sure to do proper research to ensure the graduate outcomes from the programme are in line with your career goals.

You can also leverage on your existing network – or build a new one –  to help you when upskilling or reskilling yourself in a particular digital area. Keep a lookout for webinars from leading experts in your respective field so you can learn key tips and insights from the pros while in lockdown.