In this rapidly changing career landscape, employees and employers cannot afford to sit still. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report estimates that six in 10 workers will require training and upskilling before 2027. This report also shows that employers consider skills gaps the single greatest barrier to transforming their business. However, due to the limits of employer-based skills training, the World Economic Forum emphasizes that workers must take personal responsibility for their career development.

Increased interest in upskilling is a sign of how technology is disrupting the business world. It is also a sign that companies are placing more value on professional education.

What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling is a process of adapting and enhancing existing abilities in which an employee’s talents and experiences are fused with new strategies and upgraded skills. For example, an IT professional might take leadership training in order to start overseeing a team, or a marketing professional might learn about business strategy in order to contribute to requests for proposals.

This style of high-quality instruction from a world-class institution is exactly what I was searching for. This forum is an exceptional opportunity for MBA-level instruction at a pace that accommodates your schedule. Great price, value, and quality for the level of instruction!

Michael KephartVanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Participant

Soft Skills Are Leading the Way

Learning new technologies is certainly part of upskilling. However, the speed at which technology changes coupled with the accelerating creep of automation means that employers are increasingly looking for more timeless competencies, which we generally know as “soft skills” (though there is a push to rename these as “power skills”). According to the World Economic Forum, nearly all of the most in-demand skills fall under this category:

  1. Analytical thinking and innovation
  2. Active learning and learning strategies
  3. Creativity, originality, and initiative
  4. Technology design and programming
  5. Critical thinking and analysis
  6. Complex problem-solving
  7. Leadership and social influence
  8. Emotional intelligence
  9. Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation
  10. Systems analysis and evaluation

LinkedIn also estimates that creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability are top skills for the 2020s. This means that working professionals who want to future-proof their careers need to look for training that emphasizes leadership, innovation, and communication. The best business certificate programs are those that fuse soft skills with business essentials and are most likely to give employees long-term benefits.

Plus, data shows that investing in these skills pays off: an MIT Sloan School study found that soft-skills training led to a 250 percent return on investment.

Why a Business Certificate Program?

While some companies offer in-house training programs, most employees turn to outside sources for upskilling. Since most skill seekers are full-time workers, they need training that fits alongside their work and home responsibilities. The majority of professionals who want upskilling do not need to go back to school full-time and gain an additional degree.

That’s where a certificate program comes in. With a structure designed for working professionals, it offers planned, accredited learning without the larger financial or time commitment required by an MBA or other graduate degree. The courses are designed and taught by experts and the content is specifically made for professionals. For example, Vanderbilt’s online Business Management Certificate classes are taught by the same full-time faculty who teach at the residential business school.

Since networking is important to development, these classes also build in opportunities to ask questions and bounce ideas off other professionals through discussion boards and projects.

When a participant finishes the required courses, they gain tangible results—an official certificate and continuing education units upon completion of all 4 courses. They finish with actionable strategies, an enhanced resume, and a path forward to leadership positions. Participants who complete individual courses can build targeted expertise to cater to a specific area of professional need.

The Strategic Leadership class has helped me dig deep into my self-development as a leader. I have been able to implement mechanisms and change management into my current role and look forward to honing in on these skills as I further my career.

Sean WeakleyVanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Participant

Who Benefits from a Business Certificate?

A business certificate may seem geared towards B2C or B2B companies, but the skills that a certificate teaches—like strategic decision-making, team leadership, risk avoidance, and financial planning—can be applied across a wide range of industries including nonprofits, the public sector, and educational or social services.

According to Burning Glass, a jobs and labor database, some of the industries that most request a business certificate include:

  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Scientific and technical services
  • Educational services
  • Public administration
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Construction
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Real estate

And some of the top job titles, according to, are:

  • Director of Operations
  • Executive Director
  • Office Manager
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • General / Operations Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Accountant
  • Executive Assistant
  • Business Manager
  • Financial Controller

Ready to start your own upskilling? Talk to a career advisor about the online Business Management Certificate from Vanderbilt Executive Education by calling 844-825-9663, emailing, or using the chat box below.


To learn more about the Vanderbilt Business Management Certificate, contact a career advisor at 844-825-9663 or fill out the form below to download a free brochure.

Which courses are you interested in?

* All Fields are Required. Your Privacy is Protected.

Vanderbilt University respects your privacy. By submitting this form, you give your express consent to receive emails, calls and text messages, which may use automated technology, from a representative of Vanderbilt University. Message and data rates may apply. We need your consent to contact you, but you can enroll without consenting to our contacting you by calling us at the phone number displayed on this site.