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How to upskill to upscale your career

Career Tips
 How to upskill to upscale your career (Photo: iStock)

The corporate world is ever-changing - and that means professionals should be open-minded, willing to learn and competitive.

Take 2023 as an example. Many developments shaped the business year - like the use of automation and artificial intelligence, a focus on mental health and well-being, and the development of shared workspaces and remote work among others.

In the year 2024, employers are looking for cost-cutting measures due to hard economic times.

The high costs of loans, high taxes, and production are among the factors that make it hard to have so many employees in an enterprise. Many employers prefer to only have employees in the main production line or key departments, rendering thousands of staff redundant.

If you are not constantly seeking feedback, building professional networks, embracing challenges, and constantly practising in your line of profession, you are at risk of not achieving your ambitions.

This is the year for you to put your career forward. Do one thing out of the ordinary for your professional life.

Taking short courses and advancing in your studies also gives you an edge over your colleagues. You risk being redundant if you do not have something extra to offer.

Upskilling and continuous learning are then crucial to helping workers adjust, grow and thrive in their careers.

“Rapid advancements in technology, changing industry dynamics, and increasing demands for specialized skills have all made upskilling a necessary component of career success,” Forbes reports.

The report adds that for leaders, staying competitive will require pushing for more learning initiatives within the organisation, and facilitating upskilling opportunities for their employees while providing and participating in leadership training.

A recruitment company spoke to various recruitment experts from across the globe about upskilling in the workplace.

Mahesh Muralidhar, a head of people operations said: “Continuous skill advancement at all levels is absolutely important. To have an organisation that’s constantly learning and growing and meeting the targets, you have to have learning employees- so everyone needs to be continuously growing, right from the CEO.”

The then head of HR at Hays Australia Erin Mcloughlin agreed, adding that the way to go is to stay informed, no matter what job or industry one is in.

“That might be looking at relevant publications, podcasts, and videos and my recommendation is to take 10 minutes a day and dedicate your time to that.”

Another advised that mentorship is a good option to consider in upskilling, noting that we are moving from routine work into knowledge work.

“It’s a great idea to get a reverse- mentor, someone younger and with better digital literary skills than you,” Scale-up expert and career mentor Siobhan O’toole said.

The upskilling journey is not a one-time thing, it should be a career-long process, per Forbes.

Start by identifying the skills that are highly in demand in your industry by collaborating with industry experts, following employment and career websites or industry-specific blogs, researching and being inquisitive.

“When it’s challenging to forecast the future, adaptability is desirable in an employee, especially in a candidate. Career growth and success rely on the ability and willingness to learn, such as taking technological advancement seriously and learning new systems and processes,” Forbes reports.

The report adds: “Continuous learning requires patience and dedication. Positioning yourself as a valuable asset on the job market or in your current career takes time and resources. Gaining advanced certifications and attending workshops are highly recommended and are vitally important to growth.”

Birmingham City University reports on its blog that there are many reasons why you should continue your professional development, beyond your degree.

It will enhance your confidence and self-esteem, keep you updated on trends and research, help you discover new opportunities and finally, it can also be fun.

“Continuing your development will allow you to test your current knowledge and skills, as well as develop new knowledge to enhance (the practice in your industry). This confidence can be further translated into advocacy and the challenging of poor practice.”

A website that offers certification courses for professional development, Upskillist, notes that no one is born brilliant at their job, with every successful person having to grow and hone their skills for a long time.

Enhancing your skills will eventually make it seem new because in every field there is constant improvement and things keep changing. Therefore, make that change a career adventure.

If you improve your skills, your networks improve too. If you look at the people you work with, you will notice that confidence has given them many networks. As you improve your professional skills, you will realise that you have great confidence in yourself and that you can take up any challenge.

The ripple effect of this is that you get a chance to network with like-minded people who have kept improving over the years. If you need to change your network, remember your skills have to improve too.

Most people in Kenya retire at 60 and seeing that they start their career at an average of 24-26 years, there is a need to ensure that they are not bored or stuck in the same position for all the 35 or more years they work. This is a long time to be doing the same thing, no matter the amount of responsibilities you may have.

Career progression comes along with an increase in income, and this helps in avoiding a situation where all that you earn is not just for provision, but also for development. If what you are doing is stopping you from ticking a few boxes in your bucket list there is a need for change or at least an improvement of your professional mindset.

“Many fields require professionals to participate in continuing education and ongoing learning, sometimes as a prerequisite for keeping their job or to maintain their license, designation, or certification. In these cases, the field likely has specific continuing education or continuing professional education requirements which must be completed through an approved continuing education provider.”

The report adds that many people are not investing in their career development, with one-third of employees saying they do nothing to upgrade or improve their current skill set.

“These people aren’t too worried about their future careers. Many may be good at their jobs, too, but they are either content where they are at or just are not worried about their professional future. This means by taking advantage of professional development, continued education, and planning for your career, you have already got a leg up on a third of your peers.”

There is also the need to improve fulfilment. If self-reflection is anything to go by, then you need to practice that and realise that this is the year for you to do something because there is the risk of being stuck in one place doing the same thing over and over when life has so much to offer no matter the field you are in.

Is your boss retiring soon? Or anyone in the company with a position that is better than yours?

Most employers need a succession plan, they are always looking for people who have a zeal for the job, and the desire to improve at all times. 

 -Additional reporting by Maria Nyambane

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