How to Upskill in Your Career
COVID-19 has brought an unease across workforces across the UK. If your plans were to secure a promotion in 2020 and now it’s just to maintain your role as redundancies loom, you may be looking for ways to show your value to your employer. Or you may have found yourself in the unlucky position of unemployment and are not quite sure where to go from here. If you commit to investing in yourself with a programme of upskilling, you’ll be seen in a positive light by employers.
Gov.UK statistics show that a higher percentage of people who are employed in managerial, professional and associate professional occupations had participated in training courses, compared to people who were employed in intermediate, routine and manual occupations 1 . Whilst this sounds an obvious assumption to make, it does prove that if you want to climb the career ladder, upskilling will place you in a stronger position. So, how do you decide what development path to take? The first thing you need to understand is what employers want from their employees.
Here are our top tips for helping you to choose your development route.
1. Know what your employers want
This is incredibly important when choosing a role that will help you progress in your career. For example, if you were looking to go into a role where you were expected to have exceptional office and secretarial skills, there wouldn’t be much call for you to take a course in marketing.
You may consider one of the most popular courses that is useful in many jobs – the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel are commonly used across a variety of roles with employers often requiring a proficient level from job applicants. For those looking for a boost in their career, a slick presentation on PowerPoint may make the difference in communicating your brilliant ideas, whilst basic numerical analysis via Excel can evidence your strategic skills. But seeing as our readers have many career aspirations, let’s look at some of the main skills employers will be looking for.
LinkedIn is used for professionals to network and is one of the only social media platforms dedicated to business-to-business communication. On LinkedIn, the top 10 most in-demand skills of 2020 are:
- business management
- problem solving
- data science
- data storage technologies
- technical support
- project management
- digital literacy
- employee learning & development.
With 722 million members using LinkedIn this list gives a very good gage on what skills are likely to help you to progress up the career ladder. Gov.UK shows that almost half of people (49 per cent) from lower economic backgrounds had not undertaken any learning since they had left school. So, what training can you access to enhance some of the skills in this top ten list?
2. Find the right course
Getting started is the hardest part of any education journey, so finding a course that suits you is vital. Many people won’t have studied since school and there is a plethora of courses on offer out there which can make things daunting. We recommend talking through some course options with an experienced advisor. They can signpost you to those courses suited to your preferred career path or they can suggest courses that compliment your current skillset and passions to take you on to a whole new career.
Whether you are already employed full-time or juggling commitments at home, your time is often limited, so what factors will give you the best chance of success? Look at whether you can build a programme of bite-sized courses to build to a portfolio of useful skills if longer courses seem intimidating. See if study locations are close by to reduce commuting time or if you are able to combine a mixture of online and classroom study for more flexibility.
3. Find the right support
Are you the type of person who is very self-motivated or do you need the odd push to keep going? Be truthful with yourself and choose a course delivered by someone that gives you the level of support you need to take your study through to completion. Even those studying an IT course which is entirely online may need face-to-face guidance when reaching a roadblock. Some people simply work more effectively in teams so even being able to link up in a virtual environment to share ideas is important if classrooms are temporarily closed. For example, at Pitman Training we assign a learning coach who is available to support every student throughout their time with us.
If you’ve been working from home, you’ll have felt the distractions of emptying the washing machine or keeping the TV on for the kids. Having the option to study in a centre, as well as online, means you can remove yourself from your daily stress, get your head down and work through your course amongst like-minded people. It’s no surprise that when you surround yourself with people with similar goals and motivations, you’re more likely to succeed in your study and career ambitions.
4. Concentrate on you
Whether you just want to stand out at work or feel more confident in general, upskilling can help you achieve this. The key thing to understand is that learning is a lifelong endeavour. An employer will notice your efforts and will appreciate your productivity and quality levels rising. Being able to complete your work to a higher standard will also translate to feeling happier in your role. Happiness in work is important because the better you feel, the better you’ll do in a job. The number of people unhappy at work has actually risen 10 per cent in the past year, according to a survey of 12,000 people by Investors in People 3 . With these statistics highlighting the problem of unhappiness at work, putting yourself in a position that will make you feel happier and, ultimately, perform better is crucial to standing out in the crowd.
5. Tackle those inner demons
A large number of people feel what is known as ‘imposter syndrome’ when at work. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of persistent inadequacy. These people suffer from chronic self-doubt and a lack of intellectual capacity. According to the Guardian, it’s thought that up to 70 per cent of people experience these feelings at some point in their career 4 . The best way to fix this is to target what frustrates you every day and work at it. If you struggle with using a certain kind of Microsoft Office program, for example, you can take a simple course and prove yourself entirely capable.
It’s a common misconception that if you’re set on a career path you don’t need to upskill, but the world of work and all its innovations never stands still and neither should your learning and development. Not only does becoming more skilled in your career help you work to a better standard, improve your confidence and affect your feelings of satisfaction, it also makes you stand out from the crowd. Some people fear going back into education, reminiscing about the difficulties at school or college but adult education can be very different. Taking a course can be affordable, flexible and will get you interacting with like-minded people. Technology and jobs are constantly evolving, so you must invest in yourself and evolve too.
- Gov.UK, 2019, Adult skills gap report
- Onrec, 2020, LinkedIn reveals the top 10 most in-demand jobs in the UK
- The Independent, 2020, More than half of UK workers want to find a new job, survey finds
- The Guardian Jobs- find good company, 2017