Taking responsibility for your own learning is an important starting point – regardless of whether your company invests in your continuous education or not. You may be lucky to work for a company that offers in-house training courses or allows you to dedicate some of your working hours to formal learning. If so, take full advantage of these opportunities. But if not, there is lots you can do on your own to develop your skills without having to spend a fortune.
Know Your Options
Start with your employer. What types of educational programs are available to you? Allison Dulin Salisbury has surveyed what’s out there and divided the different corporate education initiatives into five categories: on-ramps, upskilling, reskilling, outskilling and education as a benefit. Consider how each of them might benefit you:
As Pressure to Upskill Grows, 5 Models EmergeForbes
Enroll in an Online Class
With the rise of the internet, e-learning options have proliferated. Thanks to massive open online courses (MOOCs), you can now further your education with course work offered by some of the world’s most prestigious universities – from the comfort of your home. From contract law to neuroscience and from synthetic biology to business, the variety of educational subjects at MOOCs almost seems endless. Karl Ulrich’s hands-on guide explains how you can get the most from these classes:
Mastering MOOCsWharton Digital Press – University of Pennsylvania
Broaden Your Skills
Specialists are needed in every discipline, but the generalist succeeds by having a greater range of skills and an ability to integrate information. So instead of specializing further in your area of expertise, think about diversifying your skill set instead. As the author David Epstein shares in a podcast, generalists tend to do better in a knowledge economy thanks to their ability to integrate information and make new connections between disparate datasets. You can proactively broaden your skills by experimenting with varied interests and learning from others outside your domain:
Why Generalists Will Triumph Over Specialists in The Future of WorkJacob Morgan
Sometimes, it’s not new technical skills or knowledge that will help you get ahead but the ability to approach challenges with a novel mind-set. According to Paul Ashcroft, Simon Brown and Garrick Jones, soft skills like curiosity matter more and last longer than hard skills in a fast-changing and increasingly automated economy. In their book, the authors explain how you can develop and cultivate the crucial elements of curiosity:
The Curious AdvantageLaiki Publishing
Develop a Learning Habit
Former US president Barack Obama dedicated one hour a day to reading. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and legendary investor Warren Buffett are also known to be prolific readers. Your best bet to stay relevant in the new knowledge economy is to dedicate at least five hours per week to deliberate, continuous learning, argues learning entrepreneur Michael Simmons. Start by carving out a time slot in your daily calendar that you designate to uninterrupted reading and learning. Simmons offers six strategies that will allow you to maximize the benefits of your learning efforts – from picking the right learning content to converting your new knowledge into value:
From taking advantage of formal learning offers through your employer or open online classes to adopting the mind-set and habits of a lifelong learner, there is lots you can do to keep your skills current. Consider the talent needs of the workplace as well as your personal interests – and keep learning!