ASK US WEDNESDAY: “I need to upskill but can’t afford the time to do it”

by Leo Wiles
11 August 2021

 Updated August 2021

Ask Us Wednesday NEW

I love your blog and you often talk about how critical it is for journalists (like me, veterans of the newsroom) to upskill in order to be relevant in today’s market and be of value to new clients. But I don’t have a lot of time to go and re-train, especially with freelancing / making money being my top priority. What study solutions are out there for someone like me? Janet

The good news, Janet, is there are lots. I’m guessing that you’re not planning to write about the same genres, for the same clients, on the same titles forever – and I’m not either, which is why several years ago, with three children under five, I went back to school. And, I left college with qualifications in communications and media, photography, marketing and business PR in a four-year up-skilling frenzy of crazy scheduling work, kids and study that almost broke my brain.

While some naysayers said it was completely crazy to accumulate student debt (as I already had a 20+ year journalism and marketing career and qualifications under my belt), others loudly insisted that I should focus on bringing home the bacon solely as a writer. However, to me, increasing my skillset was and still is a crucial part of staying relevant in a rapidly evolving industry. It also has the added bonus of justifying my fees, broadening my job seeking range and providing a competitive edge.

Where to upskill? Do it online

So how can you upskill with the least possible upheaval – AND keep on freelancing at the same time? You do it online.

Studying has never been easier than it is now, thanks to 24/7 virtual classrooms, downloadable course work, video tutorials, wikis and of course online forums with fellow students. Oh, and an ability to work at your own pace, which I appreciated when I enrolled with the UTAS (University of Tasmania) to complete a unit on producing Photo Essays in 2016. Studying online fit so easily into my life that I’ve already signed up for another course on recording and maximising visual components for social media.

Where to find courses

If you’re not sure how in-depth you want to go with your studies, consider starting with our ultimate guide to online courses where you can explore filling a skills-gap first.

Regardless of whether you want to pursue a diploma, complete a certificate or look into postgraduate work, these options are all available online from some of the world’s most prestigious universities, colleges and online platforms. Best of all, you can search directly through your university of choice. Open Universities Australia is a good starting point. Or, through a gateway portal like the ground-breaking Massive Open Online Course list, aka MOOCS. And then there’s platforms like FutureLearn, edX, Upskilled and Coursera, with many of the units and modules on offer being free. Now that’s got to be a bonus.

What’s on your to-learn list this year?

One response on "ASK US WEDNESDAY: “I need to upskill but can’t afford the time to do it”"

  1. John Burfitt says:

    Great advice, Leo. Anyone in our game who is not upskilling throughout their careers runs the risk of being left behind, and not having the fundamental new skills of what is demanded within our landscape. When tonight I find myself having a chat with a 24 year old journo, in his first job, confessing he is concerned about being left behind in the digital age, it’s a reminder that that upskilling is vital, no longer just a good idea.

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