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The concept of having to work on new skills can be daunting when it feels safer to stick with what you know. However, working on some new skills could improve your employability and maybe even lead you to your dream job.

December 2020 – 5 minute read

Key takeaways from this article:

  • Why upskill
  • Common focus areas
  • How to upskill


What is upskilling?

The process of upskilling is all about learning new skills, whether it’s for your current role, a more senior one, or in a completely different industry. Advances in technology and changes in the way we work is creating a skills gap that we should be constantly working to fill.

Employers want to have a trained workforce that can meet the ever-evolving demands that their businesses face. While technical or industry qualifications are important, employers also value personal development.

Upskilling is just as much about attitude, maturity, and growth, as it is about career progression. In many ways, personal and professional development are one and the same. Your ability to become a more well-rounded person extends beyond just your professional or your personal life.

Why upskill?

We now live in a digital world where work environments are dynamic and constantly changing. For this reason, it is important that we continue to upskill and grow our skill set. Some of the benefits of growing your skill set include:

  • Job security. Upskilling is relevant to job security because the more qualified and more diverse your qualifications the more employable you are.
  • Leadership skills. Having a broader skill set means you can support other people in your team.
  • Broadens horizons. If you’re a bit tired of your career, there’s no better way to shift gears than by retraining. Think about what job or industry you might like to work in, and start retraining for that one.

Not sure how to upskill?

Upskilling is a phase of personal growth. One that relates to the personal improvement needs of each individual, so you first have to consider, how do you want to improve yourself? Are you looking for a career change? Personal development? Career development?

No matter what you’re trying to achieve, it’s important that you’re invested in it, and passionate about it. You’ll gain so much more knowledge and fulfilment from achieving something that you’re excited about.

Some common areas of improvement that people often seek to upskill in include:

  • Productivity and time management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Communication
  • Technical or practical qualification

If you’re currently employed or studying, speak with your manager (or a student advisor) about wanting to upskill. Most employers will have some opportunities for you, and will appreciate and support your growth. If you’re unemployed or wanting to retrain, you might need to go to an external provider. It’s a good idea to consider the Australian government’s advice about the future of work if you’re wondering which skills are in demand.

Where else can I upskill?

Outside of universities, there are plenty of learning platforms, schools and resources available, many free, that can help you improve your skills.

Open Colleges Australia is one online educator who offers a wide range of learning opportunities across health, business, trades, education, design and technology. These courses typically require a fee, but are a good way to get certified qualifications and diplomas

There are a whole host of short courses online that you can access, completely free. These are sometimes called MOOCs – mass open online courses – and they offer some great learnings from some of the world’s top educators. These online catalogues of learning are impressive: you can learn how to make a movie, build a robot, master excel or grow your very own garden. All you need is an internet connection and a positive attitude!

If you’re looking to get into a technical or practical field, like hairdressing or construction, you might need to attend a trade school. This will mean you’ll need to find an educator nearby who can support your development. Search online for TAFEs or apprenticeships in your local area.

Of course, if you’re looking to retrain into a professional career, like medicine or law, you’ll need to head back to university. While it’s daunting for some, we think it’s really exciting. University is a chance to unlock a whole new future, and make plenty of friends along the way. What’s more, you’ll be eligible for Westpac student banking!

Make sure you stay motivated

Once you’re on track and have worked out what it is you want to achieve, it’s important to set objectives. Everyone needs to set goals for themselves. Without goals, it’s difficult to stay motivated and keep on track. Start by thinking about your long term goals –  where you want to be in the future, then work your way back, and find the little steps you can take. Maybe try to sign up for some short online courses – at a TAFE or community learning centre – that can get you to closer to where you want to be.

Once you’ve got your goals in place, write them down. Putting them in writing will make them feel real. Then, the next step is to get started! Find a course or some way to upskill, and sign up.

Just being here, on this page, means you’ve already begun your journey towards personal and professional development. So congrats! The greater the knowledge and resources you have, the easier it will be to pursue your dream career. We’re excited for you. 

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Things you should know:

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.