Beyond knowledge and experience, attitude is key when it comes to continuous education and upskilling mid-career, said experts at an engaging panel discussion on the final day of the Gulf News Edufair 2023.
“In the future, many industries will be obsolete and you'll need to be independent. That’s why it’s critical to keep up with current developments and learn valuable skills,” says Mario Fonseka, Dean, Business Studies, University of Bolton.
“Studying later in life while managing family, social life and other responsibilities is always a challenge. However, it is important to prioritise education for career advancement. If you really need to study to advance your career, you must make time for it,” adds Fonseka.
Daniel Adkins, Group CEO of Transnational Academic Group, Management Service Provider of Curtin University Dubai, agrees as he says, “If you don’t upgrade yourself, you will miss out on opportunities at the workplace. That’s why attitude is everything – that’s what counts.”
Identify your career goals
It is critical for professionals to first define the needs of skills upgrade and then opt for a course, suggests Varun Jain, Founder and CEO, UniHawk. “Set your expectations right; visit the vision board; identify what you want to learn; and the outcomes you expect from the programme. These will help you navigate the myriad options and select the right one to advance your career.”
Skills are important
Sherma Johnson-Gray, Careers Consultant, University of Birmingham Dubai, says that students must look beyond certificates and work on their skills to stay ahead of the competition. “It isn’t enough to just earn a degree or certification – you have to be able to demonstrate that you have the practical skills to back it up.”
With the right attitude in place, learners with industry experience can be a tremendous asset in the classroom. “They are a valuable learning resource in the classroom, and create a great environment of peer learning,” says Johnson-Gray.
Jain explains that executive MBA and other professional degree courses foster a sense of community among students, creating opportunities for networking. “Classrooms of these programmes bring together like-minded people where they connect with each other and share ideas, with the teachers serving as facilitators.”
While commenting on the role of teachers in today’s classroom, Fonseka suggests that educators must create a student-centred learning environment where learners get the chance to find and expand their voice. “Adult learners have a need to express what they know. As a teacher, you need to have the skill to bring that out, and that will enrich the learning experience for others as well,” says Fonseka.
“It requires a change in the mindset of teachers,” says Adkins from Curtin University Dubai. “While selecting professional development programmes, you must ensure that the programme you join has teachers with industry experience.”