Upskilling always helps, but do make sure not to get trapped into any easy-way-to-do-it schemes. The ultimate goal should be to get more from your careers. And satisfaction too. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

From hunter-gatherers to farmers, and from factory workers to knowledge workers, human progress has been shaped by the ability to reskill - and upskill. With technology advancing at lightning speed, and the job market becoming more competitive than ever, these have become essential for career advancement.

Skill-building can sometimes feel overwhelming. To make the most of reskilling and upskilling, here are some effective tips:

Debu Mishra gives his take on the whole culture of upskilling and re-skilling one's way through a career. Debu Mishra & Irish Eden R. Belleza

‘Grow’ skills that matter

Before embarking on any skill-building journey, take a moment to reflect on what really excites you – the kind of work done without being tiresome. This strengths-based approach to understanding that underlying motivation sets you up for success. Pursue skills that align with passions and goals, and build a fulfilling career doing what you care for.

‘Complement’ skills that complete you

The brain is capable of holding all kinds of capabilities, but over time, the skills you don't use can become dormant. In her book ‘Whole Brain Living’, Jill Bolte Taylor describes the four ‘characters’ of our brains and how they shape us through choices:

  1. Right thinking character – Big picture ability, compassionate, flexible.
  2. Left thinking character – Analytical, punctual, structured, detail oriented.
  3. Right emotional character - Risk taking, supportive, creative.
  4. Left emotional character – Independent, cautious.

You too can complement the dominant character - and related skills - by developing the other complementary characters of your brain. If you are the analytical, structured, precise and detail oriented sort, your left thinking character is dominant. Complement it by building skills in storytelling, art, music, strategy management or innovation.

Taking the ‘whole brain’ approach to skill building will do you good.

Use effective skill-building methods

There are several methods to build up the skills:

* Take a course: This could be an online course or a traditional in-person class, ranging from short courses to full degrees.

* Attend workshops and seminars: An excellent way to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry developments. Usually short and focused on a specific skill or topic.

* Read industry publications and blogs: Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your field. Helps you identify areas where you need to upskill.

* Find a coach/mentor: A coach/mentor can be a valuable resource for learning new skills and gaining knowledge.

* Join professional organisations: Provides access to events, networking opportunities, and training resources.

* Seek on-the-job training: Employers offer on-the-job training to help employees acquire new skills. An excellent way to build skills while gaining practical experience.

Debunk skill building myths

Many people believe myths that can hold them back from pursuing reskilling and upskilling opportunities. Here are five common ones:

Myth 1: Skill building is only for those who are unemployed

Skill building is as important for people who are currently employed and looking to advance in their careers or switch to a different field.

Myth 2: It is only for young people

People of all ages can benefit from skill building opportunities. In fact, many older workers who are nearing retirement age are choosing to upskill or reskill so that they can continue to work in their field or transition to a new one.

Myth 3: It is expensive

There are many free or low-cost options available for skill building. You can find numerous online courses and certifications that are offered for free or at a low cost. Additionally, many employers offer training and development programs at little or no cost.

Myth 4: Skill building takes a long time

While some programs may take several months or even years to complete, there are many shorter-term options available as well. For example, some online courses can be completed in just a few weeks or months.

Myth 5: It is only for those in technical fields

Many soft skills, such as communication and leadership, are relevant for all fields and benefit you at work and outside.

The dark side of skill building

Often, you could become victims of fads or trends – pursuing skills because they are in demand. The worldwide phenomenon of low work satisfaction is an outcome of this kind of blind pursuit. While education and training institutions take advantage of this frenzy, it could leave a big hole in your wallet without delivering the desired results.

Following these tips, turn skill building into a way of life that enriches the career and personal growth.