Once you have an idea about your skills, interests, values and strengths, what jobs are out there and your own career goals, you might need to improve your current skills or learn some new ones. Skilling up is for all ages and all stages of life!
Maybe you need to skill up because you don’t have a lot of work-related experience yet, or perhaps you want to change direction and move into a different type of work but you'll need to learn a whole new set of skills, or maybe you just need to catch up with the latest in technology. Skilling up might also be needed if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while and your skills are a bit rusty, or if you're finding it hard to get a job without a particular qualification. Knowing you have the skills needed to get that job will really boost your confidence.
Whatever way you do it and for whatever reason, there's lots of ways to skill up!
Skill up through study
In today’s rapidly changing job market, having current skills and qualifications is important and there's a lot of options available if you choose to skill up through study. Whether it's a short course to learn some job-related skills like a new computer program or a new piece of machinery, or a full qualification to get yourself a full set of work-ready skills for a particular occupation or industry, it helps to know how it all works.
There are many ways to skill up through training — not just full formal qualifications such as a Diploma or a degree, but you can also do individual units of competency (discrete parts of a qualification) or skill sets from vocational education and training (VET) qualifications. To find out more about study options, please visit the Training section of this website.
Skilling up through study is a great pathway on to other things – your first job or a change in career, maybe a higher level qualification or getting into university.
There's also pathways into higher level training; for example, completing a pre-apprenticeship can help you get into a full apprenticeship, or completing a Diploma-level course at TAFE mayhelp you get into university.
The training pathway you choose will depend on your current situation, the study and career goals you want to achieve, and the type of qualification you are doing.
Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can provide you with advice and guidance to help decide whether you need to skill up to move forward.
They can help you choose a study path, and decide on the best course or qualification to help you reach your career goals.
And their services are free!
Marcus skills up
For the past nine years, Marcus has been working as a barista in a busy inner-city cafe. He loves the job, but it's always been his dream to own his own cafe.
When the cafe owner tells Marcus he's thinking of selling up in the next couple of years, Marcus decides this is the opportunity he's been waiting for! Finally, he could own his own business. But he knows that there's a lot more to running a successful cafe than just making good coffee... he has no idea about finances or marketing, how to manage and lead a team, or any of that business kind of stuff.
Marcus needs to skill up!
As a first step to figure out what kind of skilling up he needs, Marcus takes a look through the course search on the Jobs and Skills WA website.
Turns out there's a lot of courses to choose from, so Marcus makes a note of three courses that seem to fit with what he needs – one in small business management, one in hospitality management, and another in business administration and finance. Since he's still working full time he can really only choose one course for now... but which would be the best to get him set up to be a business owner?
Marcus decides to visit his local Jobs and Skills Centre for some advice.
At the Jobs and Skills Centre, Marcus meets with Alison and together they talk about his career goals and what he should focus on over the next couple of years to get himself set up to take over the cafe.
Alison suggests that the business administration and finance course would be the best one to start with, because it covers a lot of the 'need to know' elements of running a business. And from there, he could either do another full course or qualification or pick individual units of competency — for example; promotions and marketing — to gain the extra skills and knowledge that he needs.
She gives Marcus some advice about which training provider to choose, and they discuss options for part time study.
With all the information and advice from Alison, Marcus now feels he's ready to take the next step on his career pathway and skill up to be a business owner.
It's going to be challenging, but he's excited about the opportunity and he knows that the study options he's choosing will give him not only the skills but also the confidence to take that big step from barista to cafe owner.
He's going back to see Alison again in six months, just to review how things are going and get some more advice about his next steps in skilling up.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL)
RPL is another option to consider for skilling up through study, and it can help you meet entry requirements or reduce the time it takes you to complete a course or qualification.
RPL is a formal process where a training organisation assesses your work, life experiences and previous study to determine if you already have the skills and knowledge required to be deemed "competent" against the requirements of a vocational education and training (VET) course or qualification.
The RPL process will involve you demonstrating your skills, knowledge and experience through practical tasks and sometimes written assessments.
As an example of how RPL can work; you might want to do a commercial cookery qualification, but you have three years of experience working part time as a kitchen hand in a busy city restaurant.
The skills and experience you've gained as a kitchen hand could be assessed to see if they meet the requirements of the commercial cookery qualification, and if so — you may not have to complete all of the units in the course.
If you think RPL might be something you could be eligible for, check the information in the Training pathways section of this website.
Skill up through related work
To help you skill up and move forward with your career goals, you might need to take a job doing something in a related area. It might not be exactly the work you want to do in the future, but it can be a very effective way of skilling up.
For example; work experience as a labourer's assistant on a building site could help you get an apprenticeship in building and construction. Or working at the weekend markets could help you get into that retail job you want. Remember that every experience on the job is a learning opportunity.
Use the buttons to move through this next slideshow to see some examples of how doing related work can get you to where you want to go.
Do you really want to be an information technology (IT) specialist? Get some experience on an IT help desk, providing support to computer users, and you can transfer these skills and knowledge when the right opportunity comes up to be an IT expert!
Want to be a nurse? Get some work experience as an orderly where you'll learn a lot about patient care and how hospitals run. This type of experience would be really useful when you apply to get into a nursing course.
Want to work in a world-renowned hotel or resort? Start at a smaller, less famous place and learn everything you can while you're there.
Want to own an auto repairs business in the future? Try helping out a local mechanic to get some hands-on experience.
Want to be a veterinary nurse? Get some part time work as a pet groomer to get experience handling animals.
Having that kind of experience will make you much more confident when it comes time to go for that dream job.
Get a foot in the door
Maybe your career goal is to be an office manager. Try applying for positions such as an administration assistant where you can gain valuable skills and experience that will enable you to work your way up to a management position.
Most people who are now in a professional and/or high level role will tell you they started with something lower level and then worked their way up the ladder over a few years as their skills and experience grew.
Get an internship or cadetship
An internship or cadetship is work experience or on the job training done while studying for a professional, managerial or office career – similar to how people studying trades qualifications do an apprenticeship. An internship or cadetship can be done by secondary school students as well as those studying at TAFE or university.
Internships are generally short term, and are usually unpaid. They may lead to employment with the company but there’s no guarantee of this. An internship or cadetship is a great addition to your resumé.
Skill up through volunteering
Volunteering is also a type of work experience that can help you build valuable skills and experience. It involves giving your time to a group, organisation or individual to help them – usually without pay. People most often volunteer for not for profit organisations or community groups like the RSPCA, hospitals or aged care homes, the local firefighters or an environmental group. It could even be something as small and close to home as a local sports club, school or toy library. Volunteers can also work overseas in roles such as assisting medical services, conservation causes or education projects.
People volunteer for all kinds of reasons, such as:
- to do something for someone else;
- to feel good about themselves;
- to gain skills and experience;
- for fun or to go somewhere new;
- to help a cause they think is important;
- to gain contacts for possible employment; or
- to give back to society.
Getting started in volunteering
If there's a particular person or organisation you would like to volunteer with, get in touch with them directly to see if they have any opportunities. You could also look at your local newspaper or community noticeboard, or check out an organisation that advertises volunteering vacancies on behalf of different groups and causes, listing them all in one place. Here's some websites you could look at to see what's out there.
How we can help
You can see that there are different ways to skill up and you don't have to do this all on your own!
Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you with all aspects of skilling up, from helping to choose the best study option through to helping put your CV together. They can connect you with local employers offering work experience, and you can also get onto the jobs board to see what employment opportunities are out there.