5 ways to start upskilling right now

Workers of the new age will need to have adaptability and flexibility to meet the challenges ahead.

Whether you want to learn a new skill or build on existing skills and knowledge – ongoing and self-motivated learning has become the need of the hour.

“In this new age of disruption, change is almost constant, says Dr Mathew Donald FCPA, a leadership, management and organisational change specialist.

“This means that the workers of the new age will need to have adaptability and flexibility to meet the challenges ahead.

According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, one in four adults reported a mismatch between their current skills and the skills needed to do their job. 

Given this situation, workers are actively seeking ways of upskilling and broadening their knowledge by learning about new and diverse topics.

Learning once meant enrolling in a university degree or signing up to an open online course that mimicked university-style learning. In recent years, so many new options have emerged that “a formal qualification is no longer the sole source of knowledge”, says Donald.

Many of us are already learning through online courses or webinars, but a new wave of learning pathways is making education more fun and shorter – not to mention cheaper.

Here are some new ways to learn in 2020:

1. Bite-sized learning: Have you ever enrolled in an online course you didn’t finish? You are not alone. A study by an education and technology researcher found online course completion rates in 2017 were only 15 per cent. 

This is why a few dozen new platforms such as Coursmos and TalentCards provide bite-sized learning modules to fit into our busy schedules. Known as microlearning, this form of learning is delivered through a series of videos that last up to five minutes. The videos are short and focused on specific topics.

2. Audiobooks: Audiobooks, especially downloaded ones, have become a popular way to consume content. In 2018, sales of audiobooks jumped by 43 per cent, while those of print books went down by 5 per cent. Audiobooks are a convenient alternative to reading a book for many people. You can listen to them while you drive, at home on Alexa-enabled devices or on your smartphones. There are many apps and platforms where you can listen to audiobooks, notably Spotify, Audible and LearnOutLoud. 

3. LinkedIn: “A great place to learn about emerging issues is LinkedIn," says Donald. Once a business networking platform, LinkedIn now offers access to “modern articles on issues from artificial intelligence bias and ethics to leadership skills, ageism and many more”. 

Many academics and professional writers now post their articles and opinions for free, and some are willing to answer questions and provide advice.

You also have the option to learn a data-driven, recommended course on LinkedIn Learning in your career field, job role, skillset and self-selected interests. Some of the most interesting courses on LinkedIn include ethical hacking, acoustic guitar lessons, project management and writing a bestselling novel in 15 minutes. 

4. Subscribe to an e-newsletter: You can use email to subscribe to niche topics, news digests or weekly commentary – delivered to your inbox. Fizzle’s newsletter, for example, is for entrepreneurs who want tips on building a business. Brain Pickings appeals to a wide audience with a weekly digest on topics including creativity, psychology, science, design, philosophy and art. Harvard Health Online is an excellent newsletter if you are looking for health news and information from doctors and medical experts.

5. YouTube: YouTube is still the go-to learning platform for learning concepts visually. Donald recommends YouTube as a “fantastic way to watch how to put something together or see how a piece of software works or learn how to complete specific tasks in Excel”.

If you worry about going down the YouTube rabbit hole of cat videos, customise your feed by following a variety of channels on topics of interest and inspiring talks. Some of the most popular YouTube channels for learning are Ted Talks, Vsauce, HowStuffWorks and Computerphile.


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