Struggling to find a job? Try upskilling yourself

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You can ensure that you have a better chance to find a job in the harsh job market by upskilling yourself. The current South African job market is brutal and has become increasingly competitive and unpredictable in the face of a volatile global economy, uniquely local constraints and technological advancements.

Jobseekers struggle to get a foot in the door for the few available positions and many believe themselves to have hit a dead end. However, a creative rethink and assessment of your options can in fact set you on a new path with new opportunities, Siyavuya Makubalo, marketing manager at Oxbridge Academy, a brand of ADvTECH, says.

“In our current dynamic landscape, traditional qualifications alone may no longer suffice to secure stable and rewarding career opportunities. This is where skills courses are making a big difference, by empowering individuals to upskill, cross-skill and re-skill so that they can take advantage of available opportunities.”

In contrast with lengthy degrees which require a substantial investment of time and money, skills courses are short learning programmes that focus on developing a specific skill or competency for a particular purpose.

Various providers, such as universities, colleges, companies or professional associations offer these courses and help students update their knowledge, acquire new skills, or prepare for a qualification or certification.

Skills courses to think about

There are skills courses catering for almost all career fields, including but not limited to business management, finance, IT, marketing, health and safety, project management and software development.

Because skills courses are comparatively short and focused, students can develop professionally and add to their skills arsenal more effectively and efficiently.

“Skills courses have become indispensable in the current economic climate as a resource for job applicants to set themselves apart from their peers with similar backgrounds and qualifications,” says Makubalo.

“They offer a bridge to the evolving job market, enhance employability and promote adaptability and resilience. Embracing continuous learning through skills courses equips individuals with the tools to thrive professionally and instils confidence and purpose, as well as reflecting well on the applicant’s drive during the job search process,” she says.

Some of the most important ways skills courses help with professional development in the current economic climate, include bridging the skills gap, enabling adaptability and resilience, enhancing employability, meeting industry demands and opening doors to entrepreneurship.

Bridging the skills gap

One of the most pressing challenges job seekers and employers face is the widening skills gap, Makubalo says.

“As industries evolve and job requirements change, many traditional educational programmes fail to keep up with the pace of innovation. Skills courses address this issue by offering targeted training that equips individuals with the precise skills demanded by today’s job market, which cannot be achieved as easily by universities offering three-year degrees.”

Enabling adaptability and resilience

In times of economic uncertainty, adaptability and resilience are essential for career success. Skills courses provide the tools enabling people to reinvent themselves and pivot their careers, Makubalo says.

“By acquiring new skills, professionals can explore diverse opportunities and remain employable in multiple industries, reducing their vulnerability to economic fluctuations.”

Enhancing employability

Employers increasingly seek candidates with specialised skills rather than general degrees that align with their organisational needs. Skills courses enhance employability and increase candidates’ chances of securing positions with higher earning potential, she points out.

Meeting industry demands

Different industries have unique requirements and skills courses meet those demands, Makubalo says. From digital marketing and data analysis to coding and project management, skills courses ensure that professionals have the expertise to contribute meaningfully to their chosen fields, while also ensuring their skills stay relevant to industry needs.

Opening doors to entrepreneurship

Individuals can confidently launch and manage their own ventures by learning industry-specific skills, business management, marketing and financial planning.

“We expect to see a continued growth in individuals opting to boost their skills by way of shorter skills courses in coming years, as the economy continues to bite and competition for limited opportunities increase,” says Makubalo.

“Those opting to go this route should take care to ensure they study through a reputable institution and that they select a programme or course that aligns with their vision for their future as well as opportunities in the jobs marketplace.”

The Citizen/Ina Opperman