What is upskilling and why do you need it?

28th January 2020

Did you know that 91% of new job openings in Australia over the next 5 years will require a VET or university qualification as a minimum requirement? And, according to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, almost 75% of employers value employability skills (eg, knowing how to use productivity tools such as Microsoft Office and communicating with your co-workers) as much as formal qualifications. So our article today is about upskilling — what it is, why you need it, and how it’s done.


What is upskilling?

The dictionary definition of upskilling is ‘the process of learning new skills or of teaching workers new skills’ but just think of it as grabbing some extra skills to make you more employable. It could be:

  • Advancing along a qualification pathway. Eg, your a bar steward and already hold a Certificate III in Hospitality, you complete a Certificate IV in Hospitality which teaches supervisory and management skills. Now you’re ready for some shifts as a bar supervisor.
  • Undertaking a complimentary qualification in another discipline. Eg, you’re a Personal Assistant (PA) and already hold a Certificate IV in Business Administration, you undertake a Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology. Now you have a better working knowledge of the office IT network.
  • Participating in workshops to learn employability and soft skills. Eg, you’re a team leader and enrol in a series of weekend workshops that focus on communication and deep listening. Now you can communicate with your work team more effectively, and maybe even increase productivity.

Why you need to upskill

The job market in Australia (and the world over) is changing. Some jobs are disappearing due to advances in technology (watch repairers, typists) but jobs in other areas are expanding because of lifestyle choices and social trends (personal carers, fitness instructors). New jobs are emerging too (network security managers, 3D print designers). How are you going to keep up?

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business recognise that lifelong learning is a critical factor in ongoing career success, and essential if you want to:

1. Stay relevant in your current job role
Technology is advancing at light-speed and so are workplaces — some university and degree programs can’t even keep up with the changes. You’ll need to upskill if you want to stay relevant in your current role and stay on top of your:

  • Technical skills - software updates, hardware releases
  • Industry knowledge - changes to legislation, failing markets
  • Awareness of trends - emerging technologies, consumer preferences

2. Qualify yourself for promotions
How are you going to stand out from the competition for the next promotion in the office or on the production floor? Leadership, communication, and other skills that are highly valued by employers can be learned and developed through VET qualifications and short courses.

3. Position yourself for new opportunities
Upskilling can also prepare you for opportunities in different industries or help take the leap into a career change. You could also join more than 1 million Australian workers who have a second job.


How to start upskilling

The three most effective ways of upskilling are vocational study, doing short courses, and getting experience in the field. Let’s unpack them below.

Vocational study
There is literally a nationally recognised qualification (also known as VET qualifications) in every Australian employment group and work sector. You can grab a Certificate III, IV, Diploma, or Advanced Diploma in Beekeeping, Beauty, Business, Building, Tropical Biosecurity, and much more. Best of all, the government provides funding schemes to assist students by subsidising their tuition fees. The availability of this funding varies from state to state, and requires that the course provider is approved for each scheme. Students must also meet some eligibility requirements to gain access to these grants. You can find a full list of funding schemes here.

Short courses
Taking a weekend workshop or short course is an excellent way of developing job-specific skills in computing technologies or employability skills in leadership, communication, and productivity. You could enrol in:

  • Vendor qualifications that support software updates and releases (eg, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Windows).
  • Webinars that teach marketing, content management, business writing, and SEO.
  • Weekend workshops (delivered face-to-face) in customer service, leadership and communication.
  • These can be fun because you are actively engaged in simulations and role play with other students.
  • Online short courses taught by industry experts and business leaders with years of experience. Take a course in personal productivity, time management, or self-development.

Field experience
2020 employers want to see real work experience on your resume, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need 5 years previous experience in the same job role. Consider:

  • Part-time jobs that demonstrate you can deal with customers and show up to work on time.
  • Volunteer roles that prove you can work in a group and follow instructions.
  • Internships that develop job-specific skills and industry experience.
  • Membership and participation in community groups like Rotary, Lyons, and Toastmasters that raise your community profile.

Where to next?

Ready to upskill? Why not have a browse through our courses and training providers. Whether you want to start a side-hustle in massage therapy or get an industry approved qualification in finance and banking - we have you covered. Check online now.

REFERENCES: The Australian Government Labour Market Information Portal

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