Upskilling? How to Tell Which Qualification is Right for Your Career Level


In an age where industries are rapidly responding to technology, it is more important than ever to update your skills through adult training.

Employers often encourage employees to undertake adult learning courses in their specialty, as doing so can add value to the business and open new career opportunities.

Read on to learn more about why you should upskill and how you can start your adult training.


Why employers encourage upskilling

The most obvious reason for upskilling in the workplace is to increase your options to further your career.

This could mean completing a series of adult education courses in management to give you a competitive edge over others in your field.

Another advantage of upskilling in the workplace is that you can diversify your career options. This gives you the chance to keep your career fresh and exciting by exploring different roles in your industry.

In addition, further adult learning can also lead to increasing your salary. Often, higher qualification levels lead to higher wages, one of the biggest benefits of upskilling yourself.

Even if your company doesn’t offer an upskilling program, you may be able to persuade your employer to fund your adult training. Make sure you let them know that you are trying to make yourself ready for higher-level positions in the company, and they may find it’s in their best interest to support your professional development.


Choosing an upskilling qualification

Many employers prefer that their employees engage in continuous upskilling, but they do not have direct company upskilling programs. This means you may need to take the initiative and find a suitable course in your own time.

Adult learning courses focusing on upskilling come in a range of formats, including short courses, and longer TAFE courses such as certificates and diplomas.

At TAFE, it’s most likely you’ll be undertaking a certificate of diploma. Although certificates I, II and III are designed around entry level skills, understanding the differences between a certificate IV and a diploma can be quite confusing.

Knowing what each adult education course offers and how it is delivered will help you get the most out of your adult learning.

The best way to choose which qualification is best for you is to ask yourself what your goals are.

What skills are you trying to get out of your adult training? How much time can you devote to studying? Use these answers to choose a course that will give you a desirable outcome.


Diploma vs Certificate IV

Diplomas and certificate IV courses are similar in many ways but differ in the variety of content they provide.

Certificate IV courses have a duration of 6-18 months depending on what you are studying. They are aimed at providing students with comprehensive, specialised knowledge in their field. Many courses are structured to suit professionals who have prior knowledge in their industry and wish to upskill.

Diplomas, on the other hand, are qualifications that take 1-2 years to complete and are structured around established parameters. These are aimed at qualifying an individual for a specific area of work, and are a good option for adult learners wanting a deeper understanding of a particular area.

Speaking with a course advisor is a good first step for individuals looking to upskill.

A course advisor can take into consideration your existing knowledge, your learning goals and then find a course suited to you.

You can also reach out to others for advice, such as your employer, and people in similar roles are a great source of real-world insights. They can tell you which courses and skills are highly regarded in the field and where you can get the best adult training.

Before you see an advisor, you may even have a friend that has attended the training provider you’re interested in, or has completed a course at the level you need to upskill.


Choose a course that suits you

If you are going to be working and studying at the same time, you’ll need a course that fits in with your lifestyle.

Set yourself up for success by choosing one that is flexible in hours and is delivered in a mode that helps you easily access the material. For example, courses may be delivered through face-to-face lectures, online videos and tests, or classroom tutorials.

Plan ahead to see how much time you can spare each week outside of work and family commitments. This way, you’ll understand whether you can make the most of the learning opportunity.

There are many benefits of upskilling yourself and you can make the most of these by committing to continuous professional development.

Upskilling in the workplace is regarded highly by employers and it allows you to gain the skills you need to progress further in your career.

About the Author
Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning; she is passionate about adult learning. She has developed and authored many workplace leadership programs, both in Australia and overseas.