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Why upskilling can help you progress in your career

COVID-19 has brought an unease across workforces not just in Canada but all over the world. If your plans were to secure a promotion in 2020 and now it’s just to maintain your role as job uncertainty looms, 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 program of upskilling, you’ll be seen in a positive light by employers.

It’s commonly acknowledged that a higher percentage of people who are employed in managerial, professional and associate professional occupations have participated in formal training, compared to people who are employed in intermediate, routine and manual occupations. While this may sound obvious, 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 is in demand

This is incredibly important when choosing a training path that will help you progress in your career. For example, if you are looking to go into a role where you are expected to have exceptional office and secretarial skills, there wouldn’t be much call for you to take a marketing program. 

You may consider one of the most popular programs that has applicability in many career areas: the Business Administration Diploma. It focuses on a job-related skills that may be applied to a wide variety of career paths, including skills with the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel are commonly used across a variety of roles with employers often requiring a proficient or better 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, while 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: 

  1. blockchain
  2. cloud computing
  3. analytical reasoning
  4. artificial intelligence
  5. UX design
  6. business analysis
  7. affiliate marketing 
  8. sales
  9. scientific computing
  10. video production1.

With 722 million members using LinkedIn this list gives a very good gauge on what skills are likely to help you to progress up the career ladder. So, what training can you access to enhance some of the skills in this top ten list?

2. Find the right program

Getting started is the hardest part of any education journey, so finding a program 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 options with an experienced advisor. They can help you navigate your options and select the best program for you based on your needs.

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? Ask about flexible study options to accommodate your life and see if study locations are close by to reduce commuting time. 

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 training delivered by someone that gives you the level of support you need to take your study through to completion. Even those with excellent self-study skills 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 Academy of Learning Career College 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 on campus, as well as online, means you can remove yourself from your daily stress, get your head down and work through your course alongside 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, career training 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. Out of 1,001 Canadians and 1,000 Americans surveyed, 37 percent said they were either actively or casually looking for a new job, and 36 percent say they’d consider a new position if recruited2. With these statistics highlighting the problem of people being unhappy in their current roles 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 Imposter Phenomenon, an estimated 70% of the population has experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their career3. 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. 

Final Thoughts

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 high 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.

1LinkedIn.com, 2019, New LinkedIn Research: Upskill your employees with the skills companies need most in 2020

2Nielsen, Dec 2018, Pulse of Talent report3The Journal of Behavioral Science, 2011, The Imposter Phenomenon

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