Many of the skills employers seek today are technical or at least involve some technical knowledge. Without developing technical acumen, you hurt your marketability and might even lose your job to someone with more digital savvy.
According to CareerBuilder’s October 2018 study, middle-wage occupation jobs aren’t growing nearly as fast as those for high-wage and low-wage occupations. Middle-wage employment will grow at just 3.83 percent from 2018 to 2023, while high-wage and low-wage occupations are expected to have the highest net job growth, at about 5.7 percent.
“Most of the fastest-growing occupations have a technical component to them,” said Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder, in a press release. “Workers across all job levels will need to continually pursue opportunities to upskill in order to maneuver around accelerated shifts in labor demand. This is a particularly pressing issue for middle-wage workers who are at greater risk for becoming displaced and workers in general who want to move up into better-paying jobs.”
The high demand for new skills is confirmed by the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report, which states 54 percent of all employees will need “significant re- and upskilling” by 2022.
With automation rising and jobs disappearing, your career might be at risk. But maybe this is just the push you need to start a new professional path. Think about implementing both a short- and long-term strategy to bridge skill gaps and stay current. This will enable you to proactively make career choices rather than fall victim to the changes ahead.
The Short-Term Fix
Even if you’ve participated in on-the-job training, the skills you acquired may not be the right ones to meet the current demands of employers, who still claim they can’t find employees to fill jobs.
So no matter your current occupation, be on the lookout for new skills. Read job postings and industry newsletters to see what the trends are. Look closely for jobs requiring technology or skills you aren’t familiar with, then find a way to develop that expertise.
Going back to school is an expensive solution better suited to a long-term strategy. However, you may not need to invest in a traditional four-year education at a prestigious school, since employers today tend to focus on how recent your training is and how well you can perform instead of where you got your education. Many colleges and universities offer micro-degrees or certifications that take less time to complete, and companies offer online courses that teach technical skills. Don’t forget about massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are free or less-expensive alternatives.
The Long-Term Fix
Complacently waiting for your employer to promote you isn’t going to work in the future as well as you hope . The best long-term plan is to adopt the mentality of life long learning. Regularly invest in opportunities to add new skills that will keep you sharp and in-demand, no matter what job you currently hold. Keep an eye out for trends outside of your industry that might cross over and influence your career.
Begin thinking about what you want to be doing five years from now. Start networking with people who hold jobs or who work for companies that interest you to learn what they do and what you need to know to be successful there.
Another long-term option you may want to consider is starting a side gig. Not only will you gain additional income using your existing talents, but you will also learn to use new technology associated with running your business, such as accounting software, and gain skills in marketing, website development, sales and time management.
The Good News
Some jobs do have a bright future. Do research to see if there are any of interest that don’t require significant education or training.
And remember, each time you change jobs, you will learn new processes, procedures, technology and skills. This knowledge has transferable elements. In fact, your combined past experiences can become your most valuable asset. If you’ve changed jobs several times over your career, that cumulative knowledge and exposure to different companies adds a unique perspective.
Think about companies that would value your knowledge. For example, if you’ve worked in the health care field, your knowledge of medical terminology and laws would be valuable to a technology company trying to expand into health care.
Careers and occupations will continue to morph, meaning there are many options. It’s up to you to repackage your experience and update your skills to meet the needs of tomorrow’s employers.
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