Upskill or stand still

Upskill or stand still

With so many qualified professionals out there fighting over new and evolving jobs, upskilling has become a necessity for those looking to adapt to the times and increase job security.

In our fast-paced, increasingly globalised world of work, those who resist change risk being left behind.

By taking control of your professional skills development, you’ll be better able to adapt as roles and industries evolve and grow. You’ll also have an advantage when you’re ready to move into a new role.

La Trobe’s Catherine Klimeš, Senior Coordinator of Unitemps, explains how upskilling could take your career to new heights.

Part of the job

Staying on top of industry changes can not only help you take advantage of growth opportunities, but is also key for job security.

In fact there are many roles that require regular professional development just to keep up to date with what’s happening in the field.

‘In the legal profession, new precedents, laws, cases and judgements are being set all the time,’ says Catherine. ‘So people are constantly having to upskill and relearn things.

‘Similarly, if you work in IT what you learnt on Monday is sometimes irrelevant by Wednesday, so upskilling is a necessity.

‘Banking and the environment have changed dramatically in recent years, as has HR, with on-going conversations around equity, diversity and gender, so people working in those professions have to keep up,’ she says.

‘Healthcare is another area where upskilling is absolutely critical and vital – it’s literally life and death.’

‘People working in research need to be upskilling all the time, too, especially if it’s a very specialised field. For example, I’ve got a friend who is the director of an institute that is at the cutting edge of cancer research, and his team is learning and upskilling every day.

As Catherine points out, there aren’t many careers that don’t require you to learn new skills as job requirements are constantly changing. ‘It’s like a gym workout – you’ve got to keep at it.’

A learned necessity

When you enter the workforce, the need to stay relevant and competitive in your industry becomes obvious.

Catherine says she often speaks to students who have returned to do a post-graduate course or workshop, because they’ve discovered first-hand the value of upskilling.

‘These students have been out in the workforce for a while and seen the changes in their profession or sector, or they may have even watched their job disappear completely,’ she says. ‘So they know they’ve got to do something about it.

If you get a graduate job and find you’re lacking in a particular skill, Klimeš recommends looking around for a way to fill that knowledge gap, whether it’s a short course or taking on a new responsibility.

‘It’s an investment that will pay off in two ways: it will make you better at your job now, and it will help you get a better job in the future.’

But upskilling is just as important for the employability of people trying to break into the workforce.

‘If I have a student at Unitemps who doesn’t feel prepared to enter the graduate employment market, I’ll refer them to our employer-endorsed Career Ready Advantage Module, which gives students all the resources they need.

‘I also recommend they go online – LinkedIn especially – to see if there is a professional body related to the industry they’re interested in. If there is, join it as a student, go to meetings, and start learning how to network – because that’s a skill that has to be learnt but that is absolutely needed in today’s world.

According to Catherine, there are many experienced professionals out there who have seen it all and done it all. ‘They can be very valuable to you because they know everybody in the industry, and maybe that’s how you get your next job, recommendation or internship.

‘So if you’re not yet confident about your networking capabilities, it’s important to go out and start practising and to upskill yourself now.’

 The next step

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) recently released a series of reports about digital disruption and the future of work.

In The New Work Mindset, the FYA found that there are seven new job clusters in Australia. The jobs that sit within each of these clusters require a similar set of skills, and these are often portable between roles.

So not only can upskilling help you stay relevant and employable in an increasingly ruthless and uncertain job market, it could also open doors you didn’t know were there.

Even a casual or part-time job could be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, says Catherine.

‘If you are working in hospitality, you are using a certain skillset that you can transfer to another line in that cluster.

‘So maybe you start working for a global hotel chain, and an opportunity opens up for you to go and work in China. Then you might decide to go back to university or do a short course in Mandarin, or decide to do a new qualification and start a global career as a Concierge.

‘Suddenly opportunities and careers that you never thought about before start opening up to you. I think that’s just the way life changes you – the more you do the more you realise there is to do.’

Postgraduate study is a great way to gain qualifications, enhance your skills, and advance your career. Find out more about our courses.