Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

What did you learn in 2018 – re or deskilled?

After a short break, we are back to the blog grind in 2019. As ever, we promise to give it our best every Sunday

And we start on the 2018 individual learnings. Time to take stock – what did you learn at work last year? Did you acquire new skills (re-skilled); kept the status quo; or deskilled (lost relevance in the labour market)?

By definition – a skill is the capacity to do something well, you may call it technique or ability and it can be learnt. On the other hand – expertise is innate and manifests as knowledge in a particular field. On a personal front, we normally ask our children at the end of the school day what they have learned at school. And it’s always apparent to us, especially for our big boy and girl, when they acquire expertise as opposed to a skill and vice versa

Before you are offered a job, employers consider your employability-rating – a combination of your skills and expertise at a point in time. They match your expertise and skills to a particular role in the organization. If you match what the employer is looking for, you are given the job. Many of you have gone through this process, perhaps without even realizing

So, what happens once inside the organization?

While learning both new skills and to better expertise never stops, at some point in your career, you become an expert at something and ultimately attain satiety. In fact – doing 10,000 hours of something makes you an expert in that field.

This is where skilling dynamics start to matter. Sadly, employers and employees alike, don’t pay enough attention to this area of the internal labour market.

For you to keep the interest and motivation to do your job, plus remain relevant to the external labour market, requires that your employability-rating remains potent in the context of the labour market. The latter happens when there is sustained re-skilling or at least, keeping your entry level employability-rating intact

Employability-rating is maintained or improved when you learn at work – adding to the skills you entered the organization with. Certain organizations aid learning, certain individuals help to create situations where they learn aided or not by the employer, in some instances, the context may simply make learning difficult, if not impossible. There may be mismatches between learning possibilities, and one’s expertise – re-skilling may be pitched too low or high

The power of sustained skilling

You become an expert in a few selected fields but acquire multiple skills to continue to bring your expertise to fruition. It’s not far fetched to write that skills make the practice of expertise possible. For experts to remain relevant, they need to continually up their skills

When you stop acquiring new skills – you deskill, and it’s only a matter of time before you become a lame duck expert

May you have de-skilled in 2018?

Did you take stock of your skills bank as at the end of 2018? Did you re-skill? Kept the status quo or deskilled?

Those of you that lost skills or stagnated, what caused the deskilling or keeping the status quo? Was your situation demand or supply driven?

Demand-driven deskilling is when you personally don’t have the appetite to learn even when there is the opportunity to re-skill be it on-the-job, formal training or both; while supply driven deskilling or stagnation is when the employer does not supply new skills opportunities for employee uptake – this may on the job skilling or training, etc

Now, whether deskilling and stagnation are supply or demand created, you can only ask two questions:

  1. Can the skills deficit or stagnation be fixed?
  2.  If not, is it time to move on?

Remember that sustained deskilling and stagnation ultimately undermine your ability to effectively deploy, maintain or improve your expertise

Is 2019 adventure time or business as usual for you?


3 responses to “What did you learn in 2018 – re or deskilled?”

  1. […] you learned in 2018. We asked if you re-skilled/up-skilled or de-skilled and also delved into the expertise vs. skills […]


  2. Geoffrey Ssebagala Avatar
    Geoffrey Ssebagala

    Very very true Apollo I gained more skills last year. And am happy that I did it because it made me more relevant in the job market.As an IT person everything is moving to the cloud so I decided to learn and acquire cloud computing skills. Soon getting my certifications to verify my cloud knowledge. Soon IT individuals without cloud skills will be kicked out of the IT world.


    1. Great Jeff – happy to learn that you reskilled


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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