The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and it has many people freaking out about their career future.
Jobs are increasingly being automated via technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things and cloud computing.
In fact, recent research by McKinsey suggests about 60 per cent of occupations could see at least a third of their job tasks automated, while Deloitte claims the half-life of learned skills is now about five years.
Yes, AI has opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities for the advertising, marketing and media industries, particularly around targeting, personalisation and efficiency.
However, it has also served as a warning for professionals in this sector to improve both their technical and soft skills to avoid being left out in the cold.
So, how exactly can this be achieved, without breaking the bank? Here are seven ways worth considering, courtesy of recruiting experts Hays:
- Ask for stretch opportunities at work
Taking on a project outside your usual remit is a great way to develop new competencies. When working on a project with people from other teams, you’ll also hone important collaboration and problem-solving skills.
A recent survey by Hays found that 75 per cent of professionals view on-the-job stretch opportunities as the most effective method of upskilling.
To find an opportunity, start a conversation with your boss. Often managers are the key to having your name put forward to be part of an internal project. Alternatively, be proactive and identify an area where your company could benefit from focused attention and what you could do to contribute.
Make sure you think through how working on a stretch project will impact your current workload before approaching your boss.
- Stay plugged in
Follow industry leaders and thinkers via LinkedIn, TED Talks, YouTube feeds, Twitter and other social media.
Of the professionals surveyed by Hays, 52 per cent read articles or professional literature to keep up-to-date while 49 per cent attend conferences, seminars or webinars, and 33 per cent listen to relevant online content such as TED Talks and podcasts.
A further 25 per cent view content online shared by connections, while 23 per cent read books and seek coaching and mentorships. Hays also found that 16 per cent of professionals have joined a LinkedIn group relevant to their sector.
Also, don’t forget to ask mentors and the colleagues you admire for recommendations.
- Join an industry or professional association
Membership of a professional association or industry groups can tick a lot of the boxes for skills and career building.
Of the respondents to the survey conducted by Hays, 22 per cent were members of a professional organisation.
Before joining an association, ask about its continuous learning program as well as networking events and even mentorship programs.
Many associations offer reduced fees for those just starting out in a profession or industry, so you don’t have to be an industry veteran to join.
- Complete relevant courses outside of the workplace
Formal courses are used as a way to acquire knowledge and skills by 47 per cent of Hays survey respondents, but there is much to consider before you embark on any study.
According to research from consulting firm Deloitte, the half-life of learned skills is falling, so make sure you research any potential course for its relevancy to your industry before signing up.
Consider short courses such as specialised certificates aligned closely to developing trends in your sector. There are also a plethora of online tutorials on how to use technology and software applications too.
Furthermore, it’s worth checking out ‘MOOCs’ – the nickname for Mass Open Online Courses. MOOCs allow you to study for free with some of the leading education institutions in the world. Some of the top tech companies also offer courses.
While you probably won’t end up with a formal qualification from completing a MOOC, you will acquire the latest information impacting your sector.
- Learn at work
Check out free self-learning modules offered by your employer. These courses generally reflect the skills an organisation wants its workforce to develop, so acquiring skills and knowledge this way is not only free but also could raise your standing at work.
Peer-to-peer learning is a hot trend too. Ask a colleague to teach you a skill you want to acquire or set up a study group with colleagues. Peer-group learning sessions allow employees to learn from each other and explore relevant issues together, which can boost the learning process.
If you can generate enough interest amongst colleagues, you could also suggest to your manager that a learning session be organised featuring a senior member of staff or that an industry leader be invited in for a lunchtime talk.
- Career mapping
Career mapping can help you develop a plan for your career and focus your upskilling dollars and effort.
Career mapping is a tool that helps you plan where you want to go over time by creating goals and what you need to do to achieve them. The tool is also used by many companies to develop their workforce with the skills they need into the future.
According to Hays’ survey, 65 per cent of professionals do not currently have a career map. The 35 per cent of respondents that do have a career map said it has helped them choose the right skill building courses and activities.
Career mapping also makes it easier to pivot when necessary to align with changing trends in your industry.
- Employer-supported external study
If you want your employer to pay for tertiary study or a specialist course, you must be able to explain how what you will learn will benefit your team or company. Bringing in new skills to your organisation and upskilling colleagues should be central to your pitch for support.
Like all skill building, do your homework to find out where the skill trends are heading for your role. This will ensure the knowledge you acquire is likely to stay in vogue for a while.
Also, think about courses that will build on your current skills to boost your job role or position you as a knowledge leader in your existing sector.