6 ways to learn new skills

Technological disruptions are changing the nature of jobs across the globe. Digitization and automation have made certain conventional job roles completely obsolete. New roles are emerging in the space created by the ones that are disappearing or have completely disappeared. Some of the fastest growing job profiles did not even exist less than a decade ago. This must make us question the relevance of our current job skills. A recent study by Deloitte showed that the life-cycle of a skill is less than five years.

Most employees understand this, but they often make the mistake of relying entirely on their managers or organization for their training and development. Or they procrastinate their learning by blaming the lack of time, resources or motivation. So what can you do to upgrade your skills while seeking growth in your career? Here are few ways in which you can enhance your skill set.

Align your skills with those in demand

In order to learn new skills you must know where to start. Do that by identifying your areas of interest, preferably in your career field. No matter what level of your career you are at, you must have some idea of where do you want to go from here. Once you know this, you can look up for the demand for skills in that area of job. Job search sites, business publications, and networking sites will give you a fair idea of the top skills that are being sought by organizations. LinkedIn is a good place to start with this search as it used billions of data points to identify the most sought-after hard and soft skills for 2018.

Start with more familiar skills

If you are trying out self-training for the first time, then pick a skill based on a familiar subject area. Make a small and steady start than going all-out and being left demotivated. Learning a new skill is easier when it is related to something that we already know. Study shows that the brain tends to pick familiar patterns in new ways much easily as compared to creating entirely new ones. 

Focus on the essential 20%

Base your learning process on Pareto’s 80/20 principle which means that it takes 20% of your efforts to bring about 80% of your desired results. Start by breaking down your goal into sub-skills or smaller tasks. Identify one-fifth of these sub-skills that can help you in mastering that major skill. Focus your efforts on this lot while eliminating the others from your process. This will help you accelerate your learning. 

Use free available material

Data reveals that only one-third of millennials feel that their organizations are using their skills well and 42% would leave due to lack of learning. You can improve this by taking charge of your own learning and growth. Try making most use of the free materials available online. Use search engines, e-papers, videos to learn on your own. Consuming knowledge online can give you insights on whether you will need a full-fledged course to learn certain skills or not. 

Find online courses

Once you are fully-sure that you need formal training for a particular course, you can jump start by looking for related courses online. Most of the new-age skills have dedicated platforms that sell their courses online. If you are looking for a range of courses and need a common place for them, then you can identify sites such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, MOOC, etc. which provide an array of skill-based online courses. General Assembly is another such portal that offers short-term courses on Google analytics, social media marketing, digital marketing, and many more. 

Learn from your colleagues

A study performed on the ‘on-the-job learning’ of a group of teachers, showed that there was significant improvement in their performance when they learned skills from each other while working together. Learning new skills on-the-job from co-workers can be an enriching experience costing much less of your time and other resources. 

An additional tip; focus on broadening your skill set. According to a report published by the Aldersgate Group, there is a paradigm shift in learning and training. The demand has tilted from highly-specialized workers to multi-faceted ones. Employers are looking for talent that is trained across-disciplines. This calls for a change in the mindset of today’s employees as well. Keep this in mind while you plan your ways to learn new skills. 
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