Our talent pool is changing as companies and organizations rapidly adopt digital technology to increase efficiency and promote innovation. Because of this, it’s estimated that more than 800 million jobs will be lost over the next decade, and an additional 375 million people will need to change their jobs, according to a future of work report from the McKinsey Global Institute.
5 Tips for Continuing Your Skills Development on the Job
- Seek jobs that prioritize upskilling opportunities.
- Take an employer-led training course.
- Volunteer for a stretch project.
- Find a mentor to support your skill development.
- Sign up for external skills training courses.
To remain competitive and become valuable, agile and resilient to the job market, employees must prioritize skills training for in-demand technologies to ensure they are equipped to maintain careers in the digital future. Whether you are seeking employment, employed or a decision-maker at a company that has not yet implemented a talent transformation program, this is for you.
1. Prioritize Jobs That Advance Your Skills
As job seekers navigate through application and interview processes, compensation continues to be a top deciding factor, but there is always going to be a higher-paying opportunity out there.
When it comes time to make a decision, candidates must place more weight on the added value offered by potential employers. Whether it’s on-the-job training, advanced learning and development programs or a stretch role opportunity in a field where an applicant has some of the required experience but not all, the skills acquired through opportunities like these will last a lifetime. When searching for a new position, candidates should review the benefits section of a job description to see if there are any skill development opportunities included. If not, it’s a great topic to ask about during the interview process. If there are no opportunities presented, candidates can express their interest in skill development to gauge the potential employer’s willingness to create those opportunities.
Pursuing professional growth opportunities versus compensation alone will accelerate an employee’s expertise across skill sets, making them more valuable and helping them to advance in their career.
Employers also seek employees with diverse and relevant work history. Why? Because they are able to leverage skills obtained in previous roles and offer a unique perspective on projects and tasks in and outside of their current role. They are also in a position to share their knowledge and expertise with peers, advancing the company's talent pool as a whole.
2. Take Advantage of Employer-Led Training Courses
There are many different ways to approach learning and development in a current role. The three most common options to inquire about include a library of courses provided by an employer, stretch projects, and mentorship opportunities.
It’s not uncommon for companies to have a library of training courses that employees can reference to learn how to complete tasks in their current role as well as skills that they are interested in acquiring. Employees can also check in with their employer to see if there are available projects to accompany the courses in order to gain real-world experience in the skill or subject matter.
3. Volunteer for a Stretch Project
My favorite route for employee development is working on a stretch project or a task that is outside of an employee’s functional area. This allows the employee to really dive into a realm of the business that they’re unfamiliar with. Taking this path helps you as an employee grow and become a well-rounded professional that is willing and able to take on whatever is thrown their way.
Often, it’s up to employees to seek out those opportunities, as stretch projects aren’t typically a top priority for employers. If you consistently have down time during the work day and there’s a particular area within your company that you’re interested in, ask your manager if there are any tasks you can take on in that specific area or outside of your current role. If there is a specific task you’ve been wanting to jump into, such as a new product deck or sales report, voice your interest. It’s unlikely your employer will turn down anyone looking to help.
In order to prepare for a stretch project, you must make sure you have enough availability in your day. Overwhelming yourself with additional tasks that may end up lackluster or subpar because you didn’t have enough time or attention to detail to allocate to it will not set you up to master a stretch project. Additionally, it’s important to confirm that you have all of the materials and resources you need to take on a stretch project. There will be a learning curve when jumping into something new, so it is critical you have the resources needed to succeed.
4. Seek Out a Mentor
Requesting a mentor is also a great way to expand an employee’s knowledge. A mentor is someone an employee can lean on who isn’t their direct manager when completing a new or ongoing project. In a study from the mentoring platform Pushfar, 87 percent of mentors and the person they’re mentoring say that their relationships make them feel empowered and helps them to develop a more prominent sense of confidence in themselves, and 97 percent of individuals with a mentor feel they are highly impactful and valuable.
5. Sign Up for External Skills Training Courses
It is important to keep in mind that not all employers are inclined to offer these advancement options. If they are unavailable, ask about stipends or other ways an employer may be open to supporting skills training externally.
Another great option for advancing your skill set when those resources aren’t offered by an employer is to sign up for an external course. There are so many great online courses to choose from across industries, including coding, marketing, data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and more. Upon completion, most courses will provide a certification that will help you during salary negotiations improve your resume and advance in other important conversations you may be considering.
Advantages of Continued Skills Training
Younger generations are disrupting the working landscape. They fearlessly demand what they want from employers, and will walk away from a company if they are not fulfilled. The majority of people aged 18 to 49 years old believe their employers should invest in their future by providing skill training, according to the recent Talent Transformation Global Impact Report.
Developing skills in the workplace is so important. It’s common for employees to get stuck doing the same tasks day after day in their role, limiting growth and potential for larger opportunities. By learning more skills and taking on projects outside of their comfort zone, employees can begin to contribute in more than one area, paving the way for promotions, new job opportunities and general growth as an individual and professional.
If you are an employer that does not yet offer a learning and development program, it is time to make a change. According to the same report, 44 percent of employers state that employee turnover is hindering the company’s ability to achieve goals. By offering talent transformation and up-skilling initiatives like online courses, stretch projects and mentorships, employers can increase retention rates and hire with the intent to train properly. A win-win for both the employee and employer.