Upskilling and reskilling courses help honing your skills and making you more marketable to employers Image Credit: Shutterstock

Candidates often reach out to me to understand the return on investing in a formal degree. Is it really worth quitting a job to pursue a programme? Aren’t online courses a better alternative since they do not burn a hole in the pocket and offer time and flexibility?

Well, to be honest, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Every candidate is different, and so is their profile and circumstances. Whether they should choose education over experience, or the other way round, depends on their underlying need for upskilling and reskilling. For many candidates, a formal education can add a significant value in terms of overcoming what we are facing today. Over the years, academicians have managed to bridge the gap between the classroom and the professional world. The once clear-cut boundaries between these two realms have now blurred, leading to the creation of a wholesome and integrated academic framework, which gives professionals a 360-degree exposure.

Admittedly, there are several online programmes available. However, one cannot undermine the magnitude of value addition and growth that results from being in a place with like-minded people from different walks of life. What, then, could or should be your motive for pursuing a formal education, such as a master’s degree, MBA, certifications and/or an executive programme, in the middle of your professional journey? Here’s some food for thought.

The cash hike

It is a well-known fact that having a graduate degree, such as a specialised master’s degree in project management or a top MBA programme, can help your CV stand out. These programmes hone your skills and make you more marketable to employers. The EMBA programmes offered by institutions such as INSEAD, London Business School (LBS), S.P. Jain School of Global Management, Middlesex University Dubai, and American University in Dubai have not only accelerated the career trajectory of several mid-level professionals but have also allowed many aspiring entrepreneurs to build their own ventures.

Upskill to stay relevant

Tech-driven jobs have seen the strongest resilience and growth during the pandemic. That said, I must mention that a tech professional’s knowledge becomes obsolete very fast. Pursuing a formal master’s degree will not only keep them relevant in the workplace but will also grant them a platform that breeds multipronged learning. The UAE is now home to many such courses including Middlesex University’s master’s degree in cyber security and pen testing, offering a beautiful amalgamation of classroom and project-based learning.

Reskill to get back to work, grow or change jobs

Many professionals have lost their jobs during this pandemic, while some have taken a break because of personal responsibilities, and some others have realised their dire need for change. A formal master’s degree is a brilliant option for all of these people who intend to end their sabbatical and get absorbed into the workforce, albeit through a different or evolved field.

A formal master’s degree is a brilliant option for all of these people who intend to end their sabbatical and get absorbed into the workforce, albeit through a different or evolved field.

- Varun Jain, Managing Director, Brighter Prep

Going back to a university to build your foundation and reskill yourself would give you the confidence to get back to work. Brilliantly designed courses such as Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing by Curtain University, Master in Interior Design by Amity Dubai, and MSc in Digital Marketing by Middlesex and Heriot-Watt University could give an excellent restart to your career.

Time to follow your passion

This pandemic has also made many of us recall our passion, which we had left behind to follow more conventional career paths. Going back to an institution to formalise our passion and getting certified could help us build a satisfying and successful career. The mentors in a formal institution will not only teach you the fundamentals and academic theories but also help you find a job through their career placement departments or funding to incubate your ideas.

Like any big decision in life, choosing to invest in a master’s or an executive education for upskilling or reskilling is an important one. But what you should also know is that this decision is multilayered. From finding the right institution and the right programme to identifying the right reasons for pursuing it, multiple steps are a part and parcel of this process.

As an education counsellor, my advice on this dichotomous debate between education and experience is simple: research. Start your research now, evaluate your options, compare online programmes with offline ones, come up with your list of expectations, interview the alumni and the students, and then take a call. Don’t forget, whatever you choose, you will learn something new.

— The writer is Managing Director of Brighter Prep, an international test prep and admissions consulting company