10 Ways to Gain New Skills
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The world is a lot more competitive today. It is a do or die situation for many companies and industries where they either need to keep up with the changing landscape or risk losing market share to competitors.
While it is easy to be comfortable and complacent in our personal lives, the same cannot be said of our career.
Many of us have a skill set that matches our current job. However, the benefits of improving your skills are valuable.
You can achieve more in your current position or receive a promotion, or even change careers if the need arose.
Complacency in your career might result in you being overlooked for opportunities and not being valued as a vital member of an organization.
There is a range of learning opportunities that are easily accessible and many different options you can learn from, such as workplace training, online learning, and workshops, podcasts, webinars, networking, mentors, and more.
Consider your existing transferable skills, the skill gap you would like to fill, find how you can learn new skills, challenge yourself and boost your career.
Why Is It Important to Develop New Skills?
Learning is a good thing both personally and professionally, and improving your skills and knowledge has never been easier.
The benefits of ongoing learning are:
Being prepared for a career change in an uncertain job market
Remaining competitive and indispensable to your organization
Improving your confidence and challenge yourself
Being innovative when finding solutions and forging new connections
Increasing efficiency and improving the way you work
Increased motivation and a more exciting work day
Improved mental agility and flexibility, helping you to be more adaptable to change
Taking on new roles
Increased entrepreneurship opportunities
What Are the Top New Skills You Might Want to Develop?
The workplace is continually changing and evolving to suit demand, consumer needs, sales and growth.
The skills needed for the future will be significantly different from those being used in the workforce today.
Below is a list of skills that our workforce will need in the future.
You can read more about some of them here.
- Data skills
- Digital literacy
- Complex problem solving
- Sales and marketing
- Judgment and decision-making
- Cognitive flexibility and a growth mindset
- Leadership skills
- Creative and critical thinking
- Interpersonal skills
- Diversity and cultural intelligence
When choosing which skill you would like to learn or improve, consider where you might have a skill gap and focus on that.
For example, you might consider enhancing your diversity and cultural intelligence by learning a second language, or you might want to brush up on your technical skills by learning more about Excel, programming or working with AI.
Above all, you want to be sure that you are flexible and can adapt well to change and that you have a career plan.
How to Gain New Skills
Before you choose how to learn new skills, think about how you learn best and set yourself some goals.
Some learn by reading, others by talking or watching something, some learn best through a 'hands-on' experience.
If you choose someone else to help, make sure you are comfortable with that person and they have the knowledge and skill set you need.
Here are the top 10 ways you can gain new skills:
1. On-the-Job Training
Many workplaces offer upskilling and training days for their staff to acquire new skills on-the-job.
Be sure to sign up and attend any expert talks or relevant training days.
You can also gain new skills and knowledge at work by working on new challenges or projects. By helping out in a new area, you will inadvertently learn something new.
2. Traditional Training or Workshops
Some organizations encourage and often pay for their employees to pick up new skills.
They appreciate when their employees proactively seek further training to expand their skill set and would be willing to invest in your training.
3. Online Courses or E-Learning
If your schedule or organization doesn’t allow you to attend training courses or if there are none suitable in your area, there are many online learning and training opportunities.
The benefits of online learning are that there are many low-cost options such as Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Codeacademy, Duolingo or Google’s Analytics Academy, and more.
It can be very tempting to learn from multiple sources or sign up for too many courses, but this can feel overwhelming fast. Stay focused and work towards achieving your end goal.
A tip with online learning – make sure you check the credentials of the course you are taking to make sure you learn and gain skills that will be recognized professionally. If you can get a formal certification on completion, that would be ideal.
4. Shadow Senior Staff
Your co-workers or more senior colleagues will have skills, tips and training that would be useful for you.
Ask to work alongside them on a project, shadow them or find out how they gained their skill set.
5. Webinars and Podcasts
If there is something you want to learn about – the internet has the information you need.
There are YouTube videos, live videos, webinars or podcasts on pretty much any topic, and they are all very accessible, even if you have no prior knowledge.
Webinars and live videos are often on-demand or live, and YouTube, podcasts or other instructional videos can be streamed at any time.
Check if any experts in your field are offering a webinar or podcast and be sure to tune in. As you listen, take some notes to remember the details and areas you want to follow up on.
6. Work With a Mentor and Be a Mentor
Finding and working with a mentor is a valuable way to gain new skills and knowledge.
If you enjoy your workplace and want to proceed further in the organization, finding a company mentor would be very beneficial.
A good mentor will help you navigate the various challenges you face and provide you with guidance on your next steps.
In many ways, a mentor is like having a teacher or parent in the workforce; they will give you real feedback and guidance to advance your career and encourage you to gain new experiences.
It is also useful to offer to be a mentor to more junior colleagues. Finding a promising protégé can expose you to new skills and techniques in your field (as they might have trained more recently than you) and help you practice your own skills while teaching.
7. Read or Listen to a Variety of Books or Blogs
You can read more about the area you work for, the company you work for and their competitors. Check who the experts in your field are and read their books.
By staying informed, you can provide solutions to challenges your company may face.
If you are looking to change careers or gain experience outside your current specialty, the internet is full of knowledge and experts willing to share their knowledge.
Books remain a valuable information source. Many can be downloaded to a preferred device to read wherever you are. You can also listen to specialist books in your area of interest. Audiobooks are very popular as you can listen to them while commuting or completing other tasks.
Traditional networking methods such as industry events or joining a professional association are generally useful for meeting new people and forming connections.
However, networking internally with colleagues can help if you want to find out about different jobs and sectors in your organization.
Get to know your co-workers in other teams, offices and departments and find out more about their skills and the jobs they perform.
Ask them about the skills and knowledge they use and see if you can help out with their projects to grow your skill set and expertise.
Any new person you meet or get to know can teach you something – they can inspire a new innovative idea for your work, teach you a more efficient way to complete a task, reignite your motivation, and you can even learn from their mistakes.
9. Volunteer or Apply for an Internship
For certain types of skill development, volunteer work is an ideal way to gain experience and knowledge. It is very hands-on, which makes learning a lot easier, and you are also helping your community.
If you are looking to develop skills and knowledge in a specific career or industry, an internship is one of the best ways to gain experience.
You will also gain valuable insights into the industry and connect with people previously outside your social network, helping you form connections.
Both volunteering and internships enable you to step outside your comfort zone and allow you to meet new people and gain new skills and insights.
10. Share Your Knowledge
You learn better when you teach others. You can run a training session at your workplace, start a blog, do freelance work or create a discussion group.
Writing for a blog will let you build on your existing knowledge and allows you to share any new knowledge you are learning.
If you have recently learned about a new topic, leading a discussion group will open up conversations and give you insights from others in the same field.
Once you are more confident in your skills, you can use them in the freelance marketplace and gain more experience to help your career.
Tips for Success When Learning a New Skill
Set yourself up for success with these key tips:
- Improve your time management. You need to make the time you spend learning a new skill or gaining new knowledge efficient. Use schedule apps or make a small daily or weekly to-do list with a few achievable goals. Learn how to prioritize tasks and keep on top of your deadlines, but be realistic about how much you can do and be sure to allocate time for your personal life.
Improve your soft skills. Effectively communicating with others and being personable is an easy way to get to know other people and gain skills and knowledge through your interactions.
Brush up your general IT skills. Aside from gaining new skills and knowledge, you must have good digital skills and be aware of new and emerging digital technologies in the workplace that can help you work better and protect your job for the future.
Identify your skills and knowledge gap. Whether you are looking to gain a specific skill for your career or learn something unrelated, you need to identify the skills and knowledge you want to acquire. If it is specific to your career, you can ask your colleagues, management or mentor. If it is to do with a career change, look over job descriptions of a job you would like to have and identify your missing skills.
Set some goals. learning a new skill can be motivating, but an end goal or career plan is essential to keep you going. Setting short, medium and long-term goals is a necessary part of your development and will give you an idea of the route you need to take to get there.
Learning can be overwhelming, so start small and choose one or two things to focus on so that your goals are manageable.
As you progress through your learning, set some time aside for reflection so that you can think about and fully absorb your new skills and knowledge and decide what you still need to learn.
Learning a new skill doesn’t happen overnight. Typically, it takes about six months to learn a new skill.
Expanding your knowledge and skill set is an essential requirement in most industries rather than a choice. You can choose not to, but often this may result in you becoming uncompetitive or overlooked for promotions and new opportunities.
So whether you are looking for a promotion, a new job in the same industry or a complete career change, you will be much more successful if you add to your skills.
Upskilling throughout your career shows that you are an individual who is keen to develop yourself and your career continuously.