In this COVID crazy world it can be hard to think straight. So much going on …

Despite the chaos, it’s important to stay on top of upskilling for your future.

Upskilling is a great way to give yourself a competitive edge. It can position you to move forward in your career when you’re ready or when a great opportunity pops up. It’s also essential because today’s workplace changes rapidly—you won’t want to be left behind.

Thoughts on upskilling

There are many layers of upskilling. It doesn’t always have to be a costly ‘big deal’ like enrolling in a long-term university degree. It can be a short course that’s inexpensive and quick. It doesn’t just involve hard skills, like getting accredited in a technical area (although this is valuable). It can involve developing your soft skills and/or transferrable skills. Whatever your choice, upskilling makes you more marketable.

Many only thinking about upskilling for their current role, but more jobseekers are upskilling so they’re ready for future roles and emerging trends in the job market.

SEEK reports, based on research published in December 2019, that “… the number of people upskilling for future roles rose from 52% to 57%, while those upskilling to help in their current role dropped from 69 per cent to 59 per cent.” SEEK also reports that the impact COVID-19 has had on the workforce means these figures will shift even more distinctly in future.

Seven ways to upskill for future

Mentoring

A quality mentor can teach you a great deal. They can inspire and direct you to skills you should develop. Options for finding a mentor include:

  • at your place of work
  • in an organisation you might be involved in out of work
  • through your professional and personal networks.

Keeping up with changes in your industry

If you’re not on top of what changes are occurring in your industry, you’re likely missing out on upskilling to be ‘future ready’. This is the case with all industries, but especially with fast-paced ones like information and communications technology.

  • Talk to your employer about what trends they see on the horizon.
  • Talk to your industry body if you have one.
  • Research online to discover how your industry is on the move and upskill accordingly.
  • Sign up with a recruiter and talk to them about industry changes and requirements.

Exploring emerging industries

Emerging industries are ready for hiring new staff. Don’t get behind. Be proactive. To identify industries developing and market trends:

  • research online
  • talk to your industry body if you have one
  • talk to a recruiter for help in identifying market trends
  • keep an eye on the business news.

Short-term training

Loads of short-term training opportunities are out there for the taking. This can include an online course or attending a virtual conference.

Virtual conferences are great because they don’t require travel which is currently restrictive in parts of Australia because of COVID. They also don’t require paying for flights, accommodation or other travel expenses.

Identify areas you can strengthen and go for it. This can even include your capacity to become super efficient with software programs like Word, Excel, Office and Outlook.

Networking

You can learn a lot through formal and informal networking.

Formal networking events often have an education component, like a reputable guest speaker. Informal networking can introduce you to new people who have their own sets of skills that might provide insights.

Networking can help you keep your finger on the pulse of employment trends. They can help you build skills and widen your network. The key is not to choose networking events willy-nilly and attend so many you’re worn out.

  • Plan well.
  • Be selective.
  • Do your research into the best networking groups for your needs.
  • Join a professional association.
  • Subscribe to industry journals and newsletters.

Volunteering

Not only can volunteering be rewarding, it can teach you new things and develop your ability to think differently. You don’t have to volunteer in an organisation linked to your profession. Try something new.

Final word

Upskilling is not only great for your development, it’s looked upon favourably by employers. If an employer sees you have an appetite for learning and developing, and are prepared to go that extra mile to be a stronger contributor to the workforce, they’ll take notice.

Want to learn more?

Tips for mapping professional development

Six actions for landing a new job

Six ways to excel at work

Are all recruitment agencies created equally?