What is the payoff for continued education?

In this opinion piece Head of School for MSPACE, Simon Bell, at the University of Melbourne, reflects on the true value of extending education and how new ways to acquire new skills are unlocking payoffs both professional and personal.

Man concentrating in a learning environment

With Australia’s Treasury forecasting the unemployment rate in the wake of COVID-19 will peak at around 8 per cent, the number of skilled workers seeking new opportunities will give rise to the greatest competition for roles in a generation. Therefore, taking positive steps to position yourself as more capable, informed and adaptable than your peers, both professionally and personally, should be considered a priority to maximise your employability within a job market defined by businesses in flux.

In today’s climate of shifting macro factors, digital disruption and diversifying lifestyles, the promise of educational options that develop specific career-boosting skills rather than provide broad brush knowledge is increasingly alluring. Both individuals and organisations alike now recognise they must evolve and improve, or else get out of the way.

Microcredentials, such as those offered by the University of Melbourne across a range of forward-thinking areas of specialisation, offer the learner an effective and efficient way of enhancing their future-focused skillset. Whilst it’s understood building upon long-form qualifications and on-the-ground experience can significantly add to a person’s professional prospects, other upsides include increased confidence, self-worth and social engagement with likeminded peers.

Below are some prime examples of the career-boosting benefits of engaging with extra learning and how these can translate to tangible value for employees and employers.

Upskilling sets you up for meaningful career progression

Acquiring and developing new skills and knowledge drives personal performance within a current role, prompting recognition for potential promotions and positive pay reviews. Extra learning and training can also help individuals in their search for career progression inside or outside an organisation. This could be either through increased ability to pivot towards new positions or enhanced competence in their existing role.

Upskilling or reskilling provides feelings of accomplishment and the confidence to tackle challenges and explore new opportunities. Closer connections with peers, managers and colleagues forged from new knowledge also unlocks recommendations and support, which is especially valuable given we will likely hold multiple jobs across our working lives.

Becoming flexible and forward-thinking in the age of change

As industries, economies and societies continue to change with innovation, regulation and environmental factors, what’s next isn’t always obvious, much less guaranteed. However, individuals can move to future-proof their worth to businesses and industries by expanding what they know and are able to do. Individuals boasting a proven appetite to adapt and improve will be viewed favourably by current and prospective employers. Remaining up to date with technologies, techniques and trends further increases a person’s value to rapidly evolve with the markets.

Predicting a career path isn’t easy, with most subject to detours, trials and light bulb moments. Upskilling efforts present employees and workers with the chance to explore new areas where they may be able to develop a talent and build confidence to step across traditional career boundaries in the process. Renewed passion and impetus are also biproducts of fresh focus and will ultimately drive productivity.

Focusing effort and expertise on the in-demand

The prevailing pace of digitisation and automation shows no signs of letting up. Meaning, the opportunity to swiftly direct effort and expertise towards in-demand skills provides a real competitive advantage to learners. It can also benefit businesses and leaders via an uplift in employee loyalty because of their willingness to invest in their professional capital.

With the availability of microcredentials, it is now more affordable to take advantage of the learning opportunities offered by some of the world’s most highly regarded institutions. From soft skills such as creativity and collaboration through to harder technical competencies including analytical reasoning and AI, maintaining ongoing professional development increases an individual’s relevance and with that, their ROI to companies and clients.

As the world of work continues to evolve, enhancing your skills, knowledge and capabilities throughout your working life is increasingly important. Melbourne MicroCerts from the University of Melbourne equip you to stay relevant. As industry-aligned microcredentials, they allow you to rapidly upskill to excel in your career now and in the future workplace.

With special thanks to:

  • Head of Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE), Simon Bell, the University of Melbourne
  • MSPACE @ the University of Melbourne