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The upside of upskilling – future-proofing your career

​How much time have you spent in the past year enhancing your workplace skills? According to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, you should be spending around 25 days a year on professional learning activities, just to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the workplace - let alone get ahead of it!

Fortunately, many organisations are recognising the critical importance of continuous learning and are investing in systems and programs to ‘upskill' employees, equipping them to adapt to the fast-changing workplace. This investment isn't just about creating new career paths – it makes business sense. In the highly competitive labour market, it's smart to train people who already know the company culture, strategy and operations. Corporate giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers have recognised the ROI on internal upskilling and are spending spend billions on training existing staff in fast-growing areas such as data analytics and AI.

This economic incentive applies to individual workers as much as to organisations. It's vital to keep your skills up-to-date – and to demonstrate your willingness to learn - if you want to define your own career path, particularly given the increasing value placed on ‘hybrid' jobs, which incorporate a range of skills. The good news is that in the era of the ‘Gig Economy', freelancers and contractors don't need to miss out on ready access to professional learning as they once did – Paxus, for instance, provides its 2,000-strong contractor base with access to hundreds of technology-related courses via the Percipio by Skillsoft e-learning platform. 

Workers of all types, ages and stages can also utilise online learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Get Smarter and Future Learn, which put thousands of courses into the palm of your hand via your mobile device. If you prefer face-to-face learning, organisations like General Assembly offer a variety of short and extended courses to introduce key digital and design concepts. Another great option is to try one of the free online ‘MOOCs' (Massive Online Course), offered by prestigious universities around the world – check out a selection here.

While the career and economic drivers of upskilling are critically important in the digital age, it's also the case that lifelong learning offers plenty of personal benefits. Mastering a new skill can be very satisfying and can build your confidence and self-esteem. The opportunity to engage with diverse people and fresh ideas can broaden both your mind and your network, open new doors in your own company or perhaps open up an exciting career direction you'd not previously considered.

The professional and personal benefits of upskilling are clear. And if you need any more motivation, consider the findings of a ground-breaking 2015 study on the future of work in Australia, which predicted that up to 40% of the workforce - more than 5 million people - will be replaced by automation within the next 10 to 20 years. Safe to say, future-proofing your career by diversifying, deepening or broadening your skills has never been more important.

After more career advice and tips?

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