Why and How to Invest in Upskilling Yourself and Your Team
The demands of today’s workforce are ceaseless. As we’ve covered before, employees need to have a diverse, technology-focused skill set in order to remain employable, while employers need to foster the acquisition of these skills among their team in order to remain competitive. It is no longer sufficient to update your skills in the form of resitting a competencies test: instead, workers must learn entirely new skills in fields other than their own.
Why you need to invest in upskilling
The individual benefits of upskilling are abundantly clear. A recent survey found that 77% of employers were more likely to shortlist a qualified candidate who upskills regularly. The competitive edge provided by upskilling is enormous, as only 14% of your competition upskill weekly, 18% monthly and 20% quarterly. Upskilling makes you a more adaptable and versatile employee, capable of nabbing jobs you might not necessarily have experience in and smoothly making horizontal career changes. Considering 1 in 3 jobs are at risk of automation, upskilling is essential for future-proofing your career in an ever-evolving landscape is simply essential.
Upskilling is also a valuable investment for corporations. Managerial staff can gain greater respect and better manage and train their staff by upskilling themselves. Upskilling your existing staff is also far more cost-effective than hiring new staff every time you wish to inject your team with up-to-date skills.
What skills to consider obtaining
Technical, business and managerial skills are becoming increasingly relevant. If you are considering upskilling but are not sure where to begin, here are some suggestions:
Technical: Advanced analytics, managing and configuring AI APIs and DNNs, data science, Python, C# and R programming, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
Business: Business case development, process reengineering, Agile delivery, DevOps, and vendor selection and management.
Managerial: Data literacy, ethics, AI architect skills, governance and IP rights management between customers and vendors
If you are looking to make a career change, read descriptions of your desired role to see what skills are required. If you are simply wishing to upskill within your current role, ask management for what they may need over the next 5-10 years.
Avenues for upskilling
Short courses are one of the most popular ways of upskilling, spanning anything from online classes to an intensive classroom-based course. These courses can be taken online, at trade schools or at universities, with some non-qualification based courses also being available online for those wanting a cheaper and faster option. Before embarking on a course, do some research to find out what the skill trends are in your industry and which skills will be in demand for some time.
A number of these courses are Government-funded, allowing you to gain new skills on a budget. Some employers may also be willing to provide funding for your short course: just be sure to prepare a strong pitch for how the course will equip you with skills that you can bring back to the workplace.
Employers and managers can also access subsidies to help them upskill their team for less.
Stretch opportunities at work
If you enjoy learning on the job, ask to take on projects at work that are outside of your usual remit. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll be able to learn from new colleagues and develop your collaboration and problem-solving skills.
Speaking to your manager is a great way to be considered for a different project. Proactively searching for a project which you can contribute to is also a great way of demonstrating your enthusiasm.
Make sure to carefully consider how a stretch project may affect your current workload before you take the plunge.
Peer-to-peer learning or mentorship
The opportunity to upskill is all around you in the workplace. Get in touch with a colleague or superior whose skills you admire to see if they are willing to mentor you or conduct peer-group learning sessions.
Managers may want to set up a lunchtime lecture or weekly learning session for their team in which senior staff share their wisdom. The added benefit of upskilling in this way is that employees are able to troubleshoot relevant issues together, giving them a real-world application of their newly-acquired skills.
Industry or professional associations
Belonging to an industry group or professional association can assist greatly with skill and career building. A valuable association should have ongoing learning programs, networking events and mentoring programs. Be prepared to participate and connect before joining such an organisation.
There’s an infinite number of ways to learn on your own terms nowadays. Books, podcasts, YouTube videos, TED talks and webinars are available on any topic you can imagine, allowing you to brush up on your skills first thing in the morning, on your commute or as you’re winding down at night.
Learning from your peers is one of the best ways to upskill. Connect with others via LinkedIn and Twitter, by attending networking events or even inviting an esteemed peer out for coffee. Aside from exposing you to new skills, methodologies and ways of thinking, a strong network can also offer up other opportunities if you were to change roles or careers.
The future is coming at a rapid speed. Those who don’t equip themselves or their organisations with the relevant skills will simply fall by the wayside.
Ai Group Talent Solutions help businesses future-proof themselves by providing innovative STEM talent solutions required for the digital workforce. If you are looking for talented apprentices who are in the process of upskilling, the Higher Apprenticeships program offered by Ai Group Talent Solutions may be of interest.
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