Alison, 31, a Sydney-based print journalist, studied an evening course in broadcast voice training in the hopes of landing a radio reporting job. Hugh, 47, an anesthetist working in public hospitals in regional NSW, is studying effective corporate communications online to help secure an internal management position. Hannah, 26, lives in the Hunter Valley in rural NSW, and has returned to online study of a masters in primary school teaching; her degree in business hospitality provided limited opportunities for 9-to-5 employment.
These three people are upskilling. They are developing their careers through training, with an eye to landing a specific position. Upskilling varies from strengthening day-to-day skills to studying a degree. Professional specialist bodies have increased standards in the past decade for training, certification and ongoing development; while human resources corporations such as Chandler Macleod offer ongoing upskilling services to keep employees at the top of their game, while also helping companies to minimize staff turnover. The availability of online degrees has made upskilling much easier than ever before, since the majority of the coursework can be completed from one’s home. Therefore, people who are stuck in a job without much room for advancement do not have to quit their job to attend school to pursue another career, as they can simply take online courses in their spare time until they graduate. Then, once they have graduated from the degree program, they are fully prepared to begin applying for jobs in their new field. This is the way in which people are changing careers today and it is very effective for those who commit to it.
Here are some tips to get started on the “upskilling” path:
Decide where you want to be in your career. The three people mentioned earlier provide a neat snapshot of upskilling; but each of their decisions followed months, in some cases years, of soul searching. Allocate time to think. What are you best at; where are your key skills; how do you ultimately want your life to work? Decide where you want to be, then find out how to get there.
Start with online research. Once you have a rough idea of potential pathways involved, start talking to people who know about the career areas you are interested in. Talk to educators and workers in the area. Don’t be afraid to cold call; many people are keen to talk about their work to those who are interested in joining them.
Once you have found a course you are interested in, research it. Committing to study means a large amount of time, as well as exam stress. Ensure the outcome is worth it. Listen to industry sources and visit the school to speak to an educator. Also, research other potential means of upskilling. For example, someone wanting to launch their own sitcom may first need to produce their own play in a regional venue. Get practical runs on the board where possible.
Check your bank balance. If the option of studying a full course is not viable, is it possible to simply complete a module? Or perhaps an evening college course, which could, in turn, open up networking opportunities.
Ensure your eye remains on the bigger picture when it comes to your career. Keep in mind where a course or networking fits; for example, do not become obsessed with academic results at the neglect of your actual career.
Computer software and modern equipment. Learn what software is commonly used across your chosen field; what machinery may be encountered. If you don’t have these skills, short weekend courses in these areas could place you on the shortlist of the next job you apply for.
Above all, upskilling keeps you open-minded. It keeps you learning, flexible and confident. Upskilling requires an attitude of forward-thinking while you remain up-to-date and relevant. It also shows employers that you have intent to move ahead, not simply to languish in the filing stacks. When did upskilling help you get a new job?