How to identify areas to upskill

The value of lifelong learning and upskilling has been amplified through a rapid change in macro forces such as technological breakthroughs, urbanisation, resource scarcity and climate change. As a result, the main question for many people is no longer should they undertake further education, but what the focus of their studies should be.

A woman on her laptop with a cup of coffee

General Manager of MSPACE at The University of Melbourne, Owen Shemansky, has been analysing how the recent burst of rapid technological innovation, coupled with our changing social fabric, is transforming how we work and understand the world. As he sees it, ensuring we are active in our acquisition of the skills we need to contend with these shifts is essential.

“It’s more important than ever that we don’t just passively witness change happening around us but instead take a leading role in shaping the trajectory of that change for the better, through learning, experimenting and collaborating. Our insights and experience tell us that those who take the time to reflect and understand their strengths, the employment landscape and the skill development options available, are more likely to identify areas for professional and personal growth, and make informed choices to suit their future needs.”

Know yourself

“High self-awareness is correlated with a range of positive outcomes for your career, including better performance at work, higher quality relationships and improved-decision making. In fact, a study by America’s Cornell University involving 72 senior executives found that greater self-awareness was the key determinant of their effectiveness as leaders and the successes of their organisations.

However, research has suggested that while almost all people consider themselves to be self-aware, only 10-15% actually meet the formal criteria. This means the remaining 85-90% of the population are making decisions on new skills to pursue before understanding how to fully leverage their own unique qualities.

As a simple starting point, build out your internal self-awareness by writing a list of your core values, personality traits, goals, motivations, strengths and weakness. The critical next step is to then share your self-assessment with family, friends and trusted co-workers, to see if they agree or can offer different perspectives. Building out your external self-awareness by understanding how others perceive you will provide a much more rounded concept of who you are and the career directions best suited to you.”

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Know the employment landscape

“In this evolving market, it’s important to consider which industries are growing and shrinking, and which skills are in high demand or have a current or impending oversupply. By doing so, you will have a better chance of identifying where you can expect personal reward and professional growth when upskilling.

At the Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE), our market insights and conversations with industry have identified four broad skill domains which are surging in demand across all sectors: technology, leadership, power skills and sustainability. Not only does this demand relate to professionals with deep technical skill in fields such as artificial intelligence, data science and cybersecurity, but also those in non-technical roles who are increasingly likely to require progressively higher levels of digital competency to successfully wrangle new technologies.

In this context, creativity and problem-solving are examples of power skills which are critical in helping organisations adapt to new technologies and ways of working quickly, while contemporary leadership skills such as effective negotiation are needed to strategically move whole organisations in response to swiftly evolving external conditions. We’re also observing concern around climate change influence increasing consumer expectations for more environmentally friendly products and services, thereby raising demand for sustainability knowledge and know-how."

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Know your upskilling options

“With heightened self-awareness and a solid understanding of the skills employers are struggling to recruit and retain, you’ll be well-positioned to make upskilling choices in areas which maximise your work performance and career prospects. When it comes to choosing the right course for you, professional learners have access to more options than ever before with many employers and professionals now calling for ‘bite-sized’ education formats that provide short and sharp skills-based learning primed for on-the-job application.

At The University of Melbourne, our response to this is a new type of credential – the Melbourne MicroCert. These 4-6 week fully online short courses are created in close alignment with industry needs to provide professionals with specific in-demand skills. With the ability to ‘stack’ MicroCerts together for traditional award course credit, and share your credentials via a digital badge on platforms such as LinkedIn, we have seen very strong interest from both individuals looking to level up their careers, and organisations looking to upskill their workforces, with relevant and flexible learning.

Regardless of whether you’re choosing a MicroCert or a more traditional Masters degree, please bear in mind that not all online education is created equal. Professional learners should now expect highly-engaging digital experiences with rich video and interactive visualisations, industry-informed content, ongoing academic support and peer-to-peer engagement to deliver a rich and supported learning experience."

There are multiple ways to engage in upskilling once you’ve pinpointed the right area of interest for you, but few are as flexible or targeted to the realities of today’s industries and careers as microcredentials. Melbourne MicroCerts from The University of Melbourne allow you to upskill or reskill in a range of independent or interconnected subjects critical to ongoing professional excellence and future workplace relevance. Start exploring education in a new way with us today.


With special thanks to:

  • Owen Shemansky, General Manager, Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education

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