Upskilling or reskilling now will give you more career options

Thanks to the pandemic, new technologies and calls for social progress, the world of work is changing. How will you stay ahead in your industry?

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Even before coronavirus changed the status quo, experts were saying it. We're facing our biggest shift to the world of work since the industrial revolution, because of the speed at which technological innovations are happening.

In many ways, these innovations are exciting: they’re creating roles that didn’t even exist five years ago, especially in the digital space. But the rise of automation also means that whole industries will transform over the coming decades, with some roles becoming more people-focused, and others becoming obsolete altogether. If you can modernise your skillset now by either upskilling or reskilling, you’ll be in a much better position to navigate these changes.

How do you know if you should upskill or reskill to improve your future job prospects? And what’s the difference between the two, anyway? Let’s explore your options.

Upskilling vs re-skilling: what’s the difference?

If you want to build on your existing skillset to land a promotion, or adapt to an advancement in your field, this is called ‘upskilling’. In every industry, there’s always room for improvement.

But if you’re considering a total career change, you’ll need to learn new skills entirely. This is called ‘reskilling'.

Obviously, there are soft skills that overlap between jobs—like problem solving, leadership or creativity. A study by the Foundation for Young Australians shows that when you train for one job, you pick up the skills needed for about 13 other jobs. These transferable skills can help you move seamlessly into a new role, or across industries.

But if you’d like to join an in-demand field like health, social work or law, you’ll need to retrain with specialist accreditations and qualifications to make the jump.

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How do I know if I should upskill or reskill?

It really comes down to two things: what’s happening in your industry, and where you see yourself in the future.

To stay up to date on where your industry is headed, keep an eye on what industry bodies are saying and follow employment research published by LinkedIn, SEEK, PwC, and of course the Australian Government. These trends will show you where jobs are dwindling, where demand is expected to grow, and whether upskilling or reskilling is the right option for you.

Also think about where you’d like your career to be in the next five-to-ten years. If you’d like to move up in your field, have a chat with your manager about your plans—they’ll be able to offer realistic feedback about where you need to upskill. If you both foresee changes to your role, they might also be able to help you plan a new career path within your organisation.

How do I upskill or reskill?

If you’re wanting to upskill or reskill without upending your life, here are some easy ways to do it:

Start with short-term study

You don’t have to go back to university full-time to update your skillset. When you enrol through us, you can study single undergraduate or postgraduate subjects online, without committing to a whole degree. It’s a great way to focus on a specialist topic and upskill quickly (most subjects can be finished in 13 weeks).

Go to industry events

One of the best ways to stay on top of industry changes and learn from your peers is to attend industry events. You can find out about conferences, workshops and networking events by subscribing to industry mailing lists, joining Facebook groups, or checking websites like Eventbrite and Meetup.

Find a mentor in your field

Seek out someone you respect and admire and ask if they would like to mentor you. They don’t have to be employed in your organisation—they could be an existing LinkedIn connection, or someone who has achieved what you’d like to achieve in your career. While they won’t always say yes, it never hurts to ask. They may still offer some valuable industry advice, and even refer you to another potential mentor.

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