In an unpredictable professional landscape, many Australian employees are undertaking short-term study to upskill and build themselves a career safety net. Here’s how you can too.
How secure do you feel in your current job? It’s a slightly unnerving question to consider— but recent research found that many Australian workers have redundancy in the back of their minds.
A poll of 2,000 workers undertaken by LinkedIn showed that more than half of Australian workers are actively building a career insurance policy in case they are made redundant in the near future.
Concerningly, only 10% of survey respondents said they feel secure in their jobs; 53% of respondents said they are upskilling or reaching out to their networks to suss out potential new employment possibilities.
Further study is often a way for people to advance their careers, or get on the front foot and create new opportunities in case of a job loss. However, enrolments in masters degrees are on the decline in Australia. So how are people upskilling?
Many workers are opting for shorter, often online units of study, such as microcredentials.
Now offered by the majority of Australian universities, microcredentials can be an ideal way to shore up your career without shelling out significant amounts of time and money.
They present significant benefits: they’re often quick to complete, industry-focused, and covered by government HELP loans.
Here’s how you can use a microcredential to help cushion your career.
What kind of microcredentials are available?
These days, you can pick a microcredential in just about anything. Business management and leadership courses tend to be popular in Australia but you can study a microcredential in areas ranging from digital design to engineering physics to nutrition and many, many others.
A good place to start browsing potential microcredentials is the Open Universities Australia marketplace, which lists hundreds of courses from leading Australian institutions.
Will a microcredential really help my career?
Depending on your circumstances, a postgraduate course like a masters degree might be the better option for you, if you want more in-depth knowledge or if your industry requires this kind of qualification for career advancement.
But if you’re short on time, microcredentials can be a worthwhile substitute because they are often developed in collaboration with industry—or even specific companies, like Telstra—to make sure the course content is hyper-relevant to your work. They can also sometimes be recognised as formal continuing professional development (just make sure you read the course description carefully before you sign up).
But are employers actually paying attention to these kinds of qualifications? A recent survey by Coursera suggests that they very much are.
The poll of almost 5,000 students and employers from 11 countries—Australia, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States—showed a keen appetite for this kind of learning.
It found employers are on average 72% more likely to hire a candidate who has earned a microcredential and that 88% of employers “agree or strongly agree that a professional certificate strengthens a candidate’s application”.
Of the students and recent graduates that responded, 90% “agreed or strongly agreed that earning an entry-level professional certificate will help them stand out to employers and secure jobs when they graduate—and 86% agree that a microcredential would help them succeed in their job”.
These findings suggest a microcredential could be the edge you need in the hiring process.
How to pick the right microcredential for you
To settle on a microcredential that will genuinely help you, think about what you want to achieve by studying one. What are the skills you need or gaps in your CV that you’d like to fill? Is it a hard skill—like tech—that you’re after or a soft skill—like communication or emotional judgement?
If you’re changing careers, you might like to do a bit of research into your new industry before deciding. Also have a think about the time commitment you can make around your current job. Does the microcredential offer flexible, online delivery or do you have to be there at a fixed time?
Microcredentials can sometimes work as credit toward a larger course, such as a masters degree or graduate diploma, so they can be a good place to start if you would like to dip your toe into further study and see if it suits you. Just make sure that’s the case for the course you choose.
It also pays to make sure you’re studying a microcredential through a reputable institution, to ensure high-quality learning. Employers tend to look favourably on courses from respected universities and TAFEs.
Keen to investigate your options? Browse hundreds of microcredentials offered by leading Australian universities.