More Australians are seeking quality short courses to upskill, protect and future-proof their careers

Workers walking and talking.
Survey shows significant increase in demand for upskilling courses during pandemic.

Australians are more likely to upskill since the COVID-19 pandemic and demand for quality short courses is high, as people look for trusted and impactful ways to improve their skills, protect their jobs and progress their career, according to a recent survey commissioned by the University of Melbourne.

Results from the survey show a significant increase in demand for upskilling courses since the pandemic began, with the quality and reputation of the training institution a key consideration for prospective learners.

The survey, which was conducted by Kantar in July 2021 with 313 Australians aged 25-45 who hold an Advanced Diploma or higher qualification and were open to upskilling, showed the top reasons for doing so include: advancing knowledge and skills (67 per cent), updating and refreshing current skills and knowledge (45 per cent), assisting with career progression (31 per cent), and future-proofing careers (30 per cent).

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of survey respondents believe upskilling in the next three years is key to keeping pace with changes in their profession and remaining employable, showing Australians are attuned to wide-spread change across industries.

Professor Gregor Kennedy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Melbourne said the world of work is changing and this is driving enthusiasm for short, recognised courses for professional skills development.

“Degrees still serve an incredibly important purpose – providing a depth of knowledge and understanding in a field or discipline, and developing foundational analytical skills and abilities. But this survey shows what we have been seeing for some time: that professionals are keen to keep up with advances in knowledge, technology, and specific areas of practice, and they want recognition for any professional development they complete in these areas.

“The University has responded to this need by creating Melbourne MicroCerts™, which are assessed, focused short courses that enable professionals to remain competitive by enhancing their knowledge and skills.”

Launched this year, Melbourne MicroCerts™ are flexible, high-quality, microcredentials developed and delivered by the University of Melbourne in strong partnership with industry experts. They focus on in-demand areas, including leadership, management and change; data, technology and digital transformation; creative thinking and communication; contemporary education; sustainable practices; and health and innovation. Intrapreneurship Fundamentals, Leading Change, and Recognising and Managing Disinformation are just three examples.

The top three barriers to upskilling overall were cost (65 per cent), course duration (51 per cent) and finding time to study outside of work and personal commitments (50 per cent). Melbourne MicroCerts™ are shorter than a traditional University subject and are designed to be taken flexibly, to suit learners who are time poor and juggling other commitments.

The survey also revealed that while 74 per cent of respondents’ current employers offer upskilling, and while the majority find them helpful in some way only 13 per cent find them very helpful. Almost half of respondents are willing to seek upskilling outside of their workplace, and nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) would consider paying for professional development courses.

Further insights include gender-based differences in learning motivations, with more women (89 per cent) than men (79 per cent) agreeing that upskilling helps them explore their potential. Women are also more likely to upskill to improve their overall confidence (27 per cent) compared with men (19 per cent).

For more information about Melbourne MicroCerts™ visit