Gain the 'generalist' edge with single subject study

Does it still pay to have a highly specific skillset? Or will the Johnny-Do-It-All’s push ahead of the pack in today's modern workforce?

male working on laptop

You’ve surely heard the expression “Jack of all trades, master of none”. It dates back centuries, and was even once used to describe Shakespeare, who was an actor before he turned legendary writer. But times have changed, and today it’s essential to have multiple skillsets to thrive in the future of work.

So what does that mean for the employee, or the new graduate, with a highly specific skillset? Will the Johnny-Do-It-All’s have the advantage, and push ahead of the pack?

The advantage for generalists

It’s always been thought that the more you specialised in a certain area, the more valuable you were to a company. It makes sense – those who have a specific focus are able to delve more deeply, while the ‘generalists’ find themselves spread too thinly to make a meaningful impact in any one area. Being a specialist has been drilled into our society, and as a result, there’s a large proportion of university graduates with a singular area of knowledge.

The thing is, the digital world is growing stronger and creating more opportunities, and to take advantage of them means escalating costs for companies. That’s where multi-skilled job candidates have the advantage. Generalists carry a wide range of skills and knowledge, which means they become the office’s Mr/Mrs Fix It. They’re the ones that end up providing the links between different specialisations in a particular industry – giving context where specialists can’t. With increasing competition for these roles, generalists are anything but ‘Masters of None’. It’s expected that they do it all, and do it darn well.

The shifting workforce

While both the specialists and the generalists have their value in every company, it’s the professionals with a wide-reaching skill base who are currently in demand. If you’re a specialist, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to fill your knowledge gaps through study. Learning new skills will allow you to increase your competitive edge and boost your confidence.

It’s not just the workplace that’s shifting – the educational world is shifting too, in order to accommodate the needs of busy professionals. With the launch of postgraduate single-subject study through Open Universities Australia (OUA), you can pick and choose the study areas that are going to put you at an advantage.

Single subjects – the ideal solution

Through OUA, you can now study postgraduate single subjects, which means that you can get the skills you need to remain confident and competitive in the workplace, without needing time away from work or family. Without the time or financial commitment that a degree would require of you, getting that extra knowledge under your belt has never been so convenient.

With hundreds of postgraduate single subjects available, you won’t have trouble finding the perfect solution, whatever industry you’re working in. The courses are provided by some of Australia’s leading universities, and cover a huge range of topics, from Leadership in Healthcare to Research Design and even Cyber Crime. Just to name a few. 

Unlike the traditional study calendars, OUA’s ‘study periods’ run year-round. This means you can fast-track your study, so you don’t miss that out on that dream job (or rather, they don’t miss out on you).

Gone are the negative connotations of being a ‘jack of all trades’ – today is all about self-sufficiency, and the empowerment that comes along with having a broader, more well-rounded base of knowledge. It’s never too late to learn, so fear not – with some perseverance, OUA will help you get there.


To express your interest in any of the courses on offer through OUA, fill out the form on this page and an expert student advisor will get in contact. Otherwise, start browsing thousands of courses from leading Australian universities right now.