Where to acquire the most in-demand skills for your industry

Career Advice
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Erynn Mayes
March 2, 2020

The workforce is changing rapidly, and professionals of all ages need to commit to ongoing education in order to compete. 

Factors like climate change, globalization, political instability and automation are impacting just about every industry and geography in the country. At the same time, employees are switching roles more regularly and will need to remain up to date on the latest skills in order to compete. In fact, Canada ranked 4th in a recent study that looked at employee turnover around the world, with 16% of employees leaving their jobs each year. 

How can Canadians ensure that their skills and experience remains not only relevant, but competitive in such a volatile working environment? The reality is that the workplace can only provide some of those educational resources and experiences, but the rest need to be found elsewhere. 

Here are a few ways to keep your skills up to date in the face of rapidly changing workforce demands. 

Go back to school, sort of...

Though you may have graduated already you may want to consider going back to school, at least for one more course at a time. As industries face disruption they’re going to be on the lookout for employees with the latest skillsets, and there’s no better place to learn those skills than in a traditional classroom setting. Taking up a single college or university course to compliment your experience is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. 

Tap online resources 

Learning is no longer exclusive to the classroom thanks to an explosion in online resources. Those who want to learn a new skill or update their existing skills can explore a range of opportunities through online learning platforms like Coursera, Skillshare, Masterclass, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. There is also a range of free online learning programs like edX, Harvard’s CS50, Stanford Online, and the Kahn Academy, as well as free educational video content provided by organizations like Ted Talks

Swerve into a crash course 

Those who prefer in-person learning experiences also have a range of options for short-term and part-time education programs or “crash courses,” offered by a range of private companies. In recent years organizations like BrainStation, Juno, and Canada Learning Code have popped up across the country, offering advanced tech education in a condensed timeframe. 

Go to the public library (no, seriously) 

It’s not just new start-ups and digital platforms offering up opportunities to add to your skills. In fact, your public library may offer some of the same educational resources absolutely free. The Toronto Public Library, for example, offers six Digital Innovation Hubs, which provide free introductory classes to 3D design, Arduino, and photo editing. The Vancouver Public Library, meanwhile, is offering free access to its Great Courses program until the end of March 2020. The program offers access to online classes in science, history, health & wellness, professional development, photography, mindfulness, physics and much more. 

Hang out at conferences and meet-ups 

Upping your skills doesn’t necessarily require a formal educational program. In fact, one of the best ways to gain a better understanding of the most in-demand skills in your industry is to attend industry events like conferences and meet-ups. Doing so will help you stay on top of the latest developments and innovations that are shaping your field—and by extension, your future career.  

Grow your personal network

Perhaps the best way to get a strong understanding of the changes that are likely to affect your workplace is by speaking with others about what they’re observing in theirs. Innovation, automation and disruption won’t impact every organization at the same time, and it’s likely someone you know has experienced and overcome the same challenges you’re soon to face. Remember, your network isn’t just the people you work with; it’s your friends, neighbours, the people you meet at conferences and meet-ups, former and current classmates, teachers, Ten Thousand Coffees contacts and even your ultimate Frisbee team. The more perspectives you can draw from, the better prepared you will be to thrive in a changing workplace. 

Things are moving pretty fast in just about every industry, so it’s important that you don’t get left behind. While there’s a lot more to learn, there’s also a lot more places where you can get the education you need to keep up.

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