The idea that your education should stop once you graduate and enter the job market is outdated. We’re living in a world where things move quickly. New industries are emerging, and old industries go through significant changes to adapt to a digital environment.
Wage growth has been slow and uneven over the past 40 years, and upskilling or reskilling could be the best way to keep up with a job market that is rapidly changing while increasing your earning potential.
What Is Upskilling?
Upskilling describes acquiring new skills. In most cases, employees seek to acquire new skills to gain an advantage in their field and get access to higher-paying jobs. They can also build on existing skills to improve productivity and performance in their existing job.
Reskilling is different. You can think of it as a form of professional reconversion. You might need to acquire a new set of skills to find work in a different field if your industry doesn’t have a good outlook for the future.
Targeting the Right Skills
Upskilling is an investment in your future. Just like with any other investment, you need to consider the cost and potential return.
Some skills are going to be more valuable than others. You can identify these skills by talking with your employer, manager, or HR representative. Ask about the top skills they look for when interviewing candidates and ask about the skills that are the most difficult to find.
Industry experts are another interesting resource. You can learn about the trends shaping your industry through interviews, podcasts, trade publications, conferences, and virtual events. For instance, analytics is a discipline that is transforming the business world, and a growing number of businesses are looking for employees who know how to work with data.
Professional certifications can be another way of increasing your earning potential. Depending on your industry, a certification can give you access to a job with more responsibilities and higher pay.
You should also consider the skills you already have. Becoming an expert in an area you’re already familiar with can be easier than learning a new skill from scratch. If you plan on staying with the same employer, consider existing skills gaps in your current team and how you could close these gaps through education.
Be mindful of the source you decide to use to acquire new skills. You can increase your earning potential by choosing a source that employers will recognize, like a professional organization or an accredited school.
A New Way to Learn
On average, workers will have 12 jobs over the course of their lifetime. Todays’ job market is extremely flexible, and job seekers will work for several employers over the years and possibly change careers.
Upskilling isn’t a one-time thing. You should approach learning and professional development as an ongoing process.
Going back to school to earn a degree is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about adult learning, but you should know that there are other types of learning experience that can be valuable in the workplace.
Understanding to recognize different opportunities for learning will help you keep acquiring new skills over the years. You can, for instance, complete a single course online to earn a certification, take part in a training program offered by your employer, or learn through a job shadowing experience.
Job Satisfaction and Personal Goals
Acquiring new skills requires a commitment of your time and resources. It’s important to pick a project that supports your personal and professional goals. You should also consider how upskilling will improve your job satisfaction. Ask yourself which skills you should focus on to obtain your dream job.
Skills that can give you access to a job with better pay and benefits can have a direct impact on your wellbeing and job satisfaction. You should also consider job security since it’s a factor that can reduce work-related stress.
A job that aligns with your personal values is worth pursuing. Think about the skills that would give you access to a job where you could make a difference by working with the community or shaping a positive company culture. For instance, going after a management position would give you an opportunity to help others.
You should also consider long-term opportunities for career advancement. Upskilling to become a manager could eventually lead to opportunities for working as an executive if you keep acquiring new skills.
Potential Barriers and How to Address Them
Even though 94% of employees say they would stay with an employer longer if they had access to training opportunities, learning isn’t a priority for a lot of businesses.
If your employer doesn’t offer a training program, you should talk to your manager or HR representative about your project. Your employer might be able to cover some of your training expenses or adopt a more flexible schedule to give you time to study.
In some cases, company culture can be an obstacle to continuous learning. If you find yourself in this situation, you should think about seeking employment somewhere else.
Money can be an obstacle. If your employer sees your upskilling as valuable, they might be willing to cover a part of the cost. You should also consider using savings or borrowing money if you’re confident that upskilling will help you earn more in the future.
Time is another potential barrier. Studying and acquiring new skills can be time-consuming, and you already have other roles to juggle. A lot of schools and trade organizations understand this limitation and offer flexible programs.
You can find programs that use bite-sized lessons so that you can learn new skills through a series of short sessions. There are flexible delivery methods like studying online. For instance, the University of New South Wales Sydney offers a Master of Management that you can complete online on a flexible schedule.
Upskilling could be the key to earning more and gaining access to a job that is more rewarding if you feel that you’re stuck in your current job. Talk to your employer about training opportunities, and identify the skills that would be valuable for your professional goals.