Skill development in a changing career landscape

by Sep 13, 2019

In a changing world and an evolving job market how do we prepare ourselves for the jobs of tomorrow? You would be forgiven for thinking ‘how am I supposed to prepare for something that might not even exist yet?’

Younger generations today are going to have multiple different jobs across various different careers throughout their lifetime. Knowing how to prepare and become resilient to change can be difficult and overwhelming. Skill development is essential and can help arm you for what the future workforce may hold.

Why is skill development important?

When I was at university, I felt quite overwhelmed. It seemed as though there were so many competing priorities and I didn’t know what to focus on. How would I hold up against other people? What exact role do I want to be doing?

This tunnel vision view of looking at the workforce and specific roles caused me so much stress and, the truth is, I never seemed to find ‘the perfect’ role when I was thinking this way. Now I simply focus on the skills I want to develop and the type of work I want to be doing (e.g. working with people) rather than a specific role. This has opened my mind up to so many more possibilities for me and makes the future much less scary.

Skill development is essential in preparing yourself for employment now and for the future.

We need to shift our focus on developing skills and capabilities rather than on specific jobs. There are different types of skills out there and one you may hear spoken about quite often is ‘transferable skills.’ These skills are useful and required across various roles in various industries and include things such as problem solving.

At CareerTrackers we have recognised the importance of skill development and worked with our various partners in various industries to determine which capabilities they see as most important in graduates. As a result, a framework of capabilities was created which identified the top 30 transferable skills required in any industry or sector. We use this to guide the professional development work we do with students to help them develop appropriate skills to become employable graduates.

In working with this framework, we have seen that some of the key skills managers and students focus on are: problem solving, attention to detail, using feedback, developing relationships and being self-motivated.

I wish this was something that was around when I was a student or in the program. It’s almost like a little cheat sheet showing you what skills to focus on and areas you should develop not only at uni but throughout your whole career.

How can I develop my skills while I am at University?

Internships and work experience

Getting some practical, hands-on experience can help you develop skills that are relevant in the workforce. These may include technical skills that are specific to the role or industry as well as those transferable skills mentioned above.

You can find internships and work experience through your university careers centre, CareerHub, or faculty advisors. You may also find information about internships and work experience on job sites online through a quick google search. CareerTrackers provides multi-year internships and professional development opportunities for Indigenous university students.

Professional development events and experiences

You can also develop your skills by attending professional development events. Fortunately, there are many ways to access these events both within the university and outside of uni. You can join various university clubs and societies that will have both social events as well as professional development events. Faculties and careers centres will also have events focused on skill development.

Outside of university there are associations and organisations that have events for professionals. You can checkout Eventbrite or meetup (or even social media) for events that might take your fancy.

You may also develop skills in places you might not expect. Playing in a sporting team for example, equips you with multiple transferable skills that are relevant to the workplace you may not have even considered. Teamwork, leadership, decision making, attention to detail, etc

Finally, you’re already beginning to develop some of these skills through your courses.

University courses are structured to help you begin to develop relevant and necessary skills. Take some time to think about which skills you are developing as part of your course and which of those you would like to further develop or which skills you need to develop outside of your course.

So, what does this all mean?

The future doesn’t have to be scary – you just need to equip yourself with the necessary skills to prepare you for various different roles. There are a number of ways you can to this and you just need to get out there with an open mind and start developing a holistic skill set.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Elise Lane

Elise Lane

Senior Advisor at CareerTrackers

Elise is currently a Senior Advisor at CareerTrackers where she supports Indigenous university students through paid internship experiences and professional development. Elise uses her experience as an Alumni of the CareerTrackers Program to help her support students in the program through their internship experiences and university.