Part of lifelong learning is upskilling, which is vital in adapting to today’s rapidly changing work environment, staying relevant in an extremely competitive job market, and achieving long-term career goals through continuous professional development.
Upskilling is especially beneficial to those who find their career at a point of stagnation or, as seen with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those who feel compelled to re-evaluate their career trajectory.
In such situations, gaining new knowledge and skills allows them to be better equipped in taking advantage of future career opportunities and even easing their transition into different career fields.
This is provided that the learning endeavour can sustain for the long haul, is personally engaging, and does truly enhance various aspects of their professional lives.
The question then is which area they should focus on to start upskilling.
Should you plan to upskill yourself, it’s best to identify your focus areas carefully. As mentioned in our previous article on finding the right online course, you ought to make sure that you don’t end up wasting your time, money and effort over a skill that turns out to be meaningless.
There are two perspectives to consider in determining areas that you need to upskill:
Where you are at present
A good starting point is to evaluate yourself personally and professionally in your current situation.
Make a list of your core values, attributes, strengths, weaknesses, motivations and goals, then discuss it with those who can be honest with you and/or provide different points of view to have a more encompassing assessment of yourself and the career path you should consider pursuing.
You can also reflect on any interests that you have been wanting to learn but either you’ve yet to make time for it or your current job doesn’t require you to have such capability.
Speaking of your current job, find out if there is any knowledge or skill gap that you need to fill in to be better at your work.
These knowledge and skills could be new ones that enable you to gain greater depths and broader understanding about your job, or old ones that need re-learning or updating to overcome any work struggle you’ve been experiencing.
Where you might be in the future
Pay attention to changes in the employment landscape, be it in your current job field or industries that you are interested to be a part of in the future. Here, take note of industries that are expanding or dwindling, and skills that are highly in demand or presently oversupplied.
Doing so provides you a better idea of identifying knowledge and skills that can aid your climb in the job ladder, boost your competitiveness in the job market, and most importantly help achieve your career goals, which shouldn’t be limited to your current job.
It would also be beneficial to balance out both your hard and soft skills, and ensure that they can be transferable across diverse industries.
And even once you’ve pinpoint your focus areas, explore various resources to enrich your upskilling experience. These can include courses, workshops, webinars, podcasts, reading and many others.