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5 things to consider if you want to upskill but are too busy at work

8 May 2023

Don’t fall into the trap of not thinking long term. The more skills you have, the more leverage you have with your employer.

Recently at we have been looking at workplace and tech skills and how to build them.

We’ve covered cloud skills, programming skills in languages such as Python and even problem-solving skills.

That’s all well and good, I hear you say. Where is a person supposed to find the time to learn all these skills and hold down a full-time job?

Here is where a very cruel person might point you to this piece about developing time management skills at work, but we won’t leave it at that.

It is genuinely difficult to learn as you earn unless you are being paid to do an internship. For many workers, the internships and apprenticeships stage has passed and they are expected to both keep on top of emerging tech trends in their area and deliver on what they’re being paid to do.

Particularly for IT workers, it can be counterproductive to just focus on the tasks you need to do at the expense of learning new skills.

Don’t fall into the trap of not thinking long term. The more skills you have, the more leverage you have with your current and future employers.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to fitting in upskilling time at work ­– and, no, it’s not all about time management.

Test yourself

Learning new skills sounds like a lot of effort, but in fact many of us learn new skills without even realising it as part of our regular working days.

For example, you might be asked to fix a problem that requires you to learn a new software package. There is no avoiding learning on the job, really.

The key is when you’ve learned a skill, don’t let it slip away. Practise it so you don’t forget it.

Set goals

If you’re the type of person who needs a concrete plan to get anything done, it can be a good idea to be firm with yourself.

Think of a few things that you need to learn and put aside a little bit of time each week to hone them. Be as ambitious or as conservative as you like, your time is precious.

Knowledge gaps

Is there something that you find yourself consistently struggling with at work? Instead of thinking of learning and development as a time-consuming exercise, think of it as something that could save you time in the long run.

If you have a skills gap that’s affecting your ability to do your job to the fullest, you are only making your job more difficult if you don’t bite the bullet and put a bit of time aside to brush up on whatever it is you need to know.

Keep up

If you have learned a new skill recently, don’t be too modest about it. Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your new knowledge.

And if you want to learn skills, read up and get familiar with people in your industry who may already have those skills. A little bit of inspiration is no harm.

Ask for employer support

A lot of employers will fund you if you want to do further study outside of workplace hours. Doing a course outside of work is a big commitment though and it’s probably one for the most dedicated of learners.

In the long run, putting in time outside of work to learn could benefit you in terms of career progression.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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