As a result of the financial pressures the coronavirus pandemic has placed on businesses globally, many employers have had to postpone promotions and bonuses to members of staff for the time being. However, this hasn’t stopped employees taking it upon themselves to upskill and broaden their horizons, with many taking the initiative to continue growing their careers through learning and development.
According to new research from the Open University, a quarter of the UK’s workforce started to learn new skills over the course of the past year. This substantial proportion of employees report that their desire to continue learning is not only to build their skill base and aid their career progression post-pandemic, but is also a way of guarding themselves from the current uncertainty around job security.
Here are four ways employees can continue to progress in their careers during the confines of the pandemic.
Engage with online training courses or materials
Online learning has boomed over the past year. Enrolment on one widely used online learning platform, Coursera, saw an increase of 640 per cent from mid-March to mid-April 2020 and this trend is likely to continue. Overall, the younger generation (16 – 24) were much more likely to engage with online course material such a print outs and books, while those aged 35 – 44 were more likely to engage with online courses.
Online training doesn’t have to be costly. Many companies and organisations, such as the UK Government and Google Cloud, have opened up hundreds of free spaces on courses designed to help adults upskill and gain further qualifications. Other dedicated training sites include LinkedIn learning,
Exeter Works, Coursera, Udemy and Virtual College. The range of courses on offer is vast, from Data and Analytics to Life Skills, Finance and Accountancy to Leadership and Management.
If there’s a certain area of your sector that you’re not fully comfortable with or a skill that will more likely secure that promotion when it’s possible – now is a good time to take the leap and develop yourself.
Many are already suffering Zoom fatigue and don’t really want to be joining more webinars and live Q&A discussions, but it’s worth holding out that little bit longer.
Networking virtually is just as beneficial to your progression as it would be in person. It is a terrific way to meet others within your field and share contact details. You never know who might be the key to the next stepping stone in your career.
If you’re struggling to know where to start, explore your sector’s governing body such as the CIPP or ICAEW for accountancy and finance, or UKLSA for legal professionals. Their websites offer some fantastic resources, learning opportunities and events for you to attend.
Ask for your employer to give you stretch tasks
If you’re struggling to find time to do extracurricular work outside of the usual 9 – 5, there's no harm in turning to your employer and explaining your desire to upskill. They may be able to offer you guidance as to how you can improve and develop your career.
This could include being given tasks outside of your usual remit that will stretch you and open you up to new opportunities. For example, your company may be looking to upskill and develop junior members of the team, a perfect opportunity to build upon your management skills. Progress can only happen if you choose to move forward, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand and try something completely new in order to grow personally and professionally.
Take it day by day
The current lockdown restrictions and the threats of the pandemic can become overwhelming, so it can be difficult to maintain motivation to achieve long-term goals.
It’s important to remind yourself that you’re only human and you are doing the best you can at this moment in time. To make your goals more manageable, break them down into bitesize chunks and focus on a little bit every day. Taking just 10 minutes to read a resource material or 15 minutes to sign up for a future event will all count and will go some way to help you get that little bit closer to your desired end result.