If the uncertainty of 2020 has left you questioning how stable your job (and income) is, you’re probably wondering what you can do to maximise your career potential right now.
The Coronavirus crisis has forced widespread rapid change across our economy. Some industries have been challenged like never before, while others have seen encouraging growth.
So in these volatile times, how can you choose a career that stands up to the economic storm?
One of the best ways to future-proof your career is to add extra skills and knowledge to your CV through online study either in your existing field, or in preparation for a career change.
It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your career either – mature age study can open lots of doors, from job promotion (and pay rise) to a completely new working life.
Worried about the cost? University study is actually quite affordable, with many courses qualifying for the Federal Government’s low-cost student loans (yes – even if you’re mature age and already working). With the increasing number and diversity of courses available through the Murray River Study Hub and our partner unis, you’ll find lots of options for flexible, online learning that can fit around your existing work, family and other life commitments as well.
But what should you study? Read on for our take on the best career future-proofing strategies and the top industries to consider. You can also talk to one of our local career advisors who can find the right course for your unique study goals.
The best bit? You don’t even have to wait until the new year to start. Courses through our partner CQUniversity begin in November, so you can fast-track your learning.
Update your skills
Even if you’re in an established career, there are lots of benefits to further study. The 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey shows people who complete postgraduate study in particular report higher employment rates and salaries than those with an undergraduate degree. On average, 86% of those who went on to further study found full-time employment shortly after graduating with further qualification – and after three years this rose to 94%. Their average salary jumped too – from $83,300 after graduation to $98,000 three years later.
If you haven’t studied at uni previously, there are also benefits to taking on an undergraduate degree while you’re working. It will provide you will new skills and knowledge that you can use to impress your boss – or help you apply for that promotion.
MRSH student advisor Shaun Harris said the hub had already seen evidence that students’ tertiary qualifications resulted in increased income, career pathway progress and new work opportunities.
“Starting a tertiary pathway can seem daunting, however, there are options to pursue for adult entry,” he says.
“You may already have a certificate IV or diploma level qualification that can support entry or be able to demonstrate extensive industry knowledge or experience as a qualifier for application.
“Most universities can also offer bridging or foundation pathways as the step towards undergraduate study.”
Tertiary study also appeals to employers. By completing further study you’re showing your boss (or a future employer) that you’re committed to your career, adaptable and eager to learn – all great traits for employability.
So, if you want to be more employable – and earn more – further study is a great option.
Switch to a growth industry
If a career change is on the cards, look for opportunities within one of Australia’s growth industries.
COVID-19 has created strong interest and demand in sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, energy production, food production and technology.
Shaun says that demand is already strong in the social services and health sectors.
“Qualifications in these sectors that will see increases in interest are social work, aged care, care workers, nursing, communications and marketing, along with other support categories,” he says.
“Further to this will be an increase in upskilling for the agricultural and manufacturing sector.
“We expect a return to an increased manufacturing sector as supply chains become more local and the need to make the necessary components to meet the needs of business are sourced on shore.
“Higher level skill sets will be needed, and IT and marketing skills will be highly sought after to manage new market segments and new customers.”
The pandemic has put the spotlight on local manufacturing and food production, with predictions that these areas will continue to grow as shoppers seek the security of buying locally. This opens up new possibilities for careers in areas such as agriculture and business management.
The technology industry in particular has also seen high demand in Australia this year as workplaces embrace new ways of doing business digitally. Demand for information and communication technology workers is tipped to grow in Australia by 100,000 to almost 760,000 workers by 2023. This covers roles as diverse as app development, technology support, artificial intelligence and more.
Shaun expects that as new industries move into the region, there will be growth in careers that require more advanced skill levels and technical qualifications.
He encourages locals to prepare for the opportunities these growing industries present now and consider enrolling in online study as a mature age student.
“This opportunity should be embraced as exciting and energising the chance to advance an existing career, or to enter a new career pathway,” Shaun says.
Construction and engineering also continue to be high-growth areas as Federal, State and local governments invest in new infrastructure and provide substantial stimulus to the housing sector.
Look at future demand
One of the best predictors of jobs growth – and career opportunities – is future demand.
The health sector again ranks highly here, with the Federal Government’s JobOutlook website tipping demand to continue to grow. That translates to future demand for aged and disability carers, registered nurses and welfare support workers.
Our increasing numbers of children also mean there’s a strong outlook for the education and training industry. Plenty of primary and secondary school teachers, education aides, early childhood teachers and tertiary educators will be needed to cater for that growth.
Professional services such as accounting, marketing and management are also likely to continue to be in demand.
How to make study work as a mature age student
If the thought of returning to study as an adult is daunting, it might come as a relief to know that the extra time you’ve spent (and life experience you’ve gained) could set you up for success.
Mature age students who study while working in the same field often bring a better understanding of their chosen field of study, thanks to their career experience.
Adult learners also often have other life skills well developed, such as time management, organisation, a good work ethic, experience in balancing competing priorities and the confidence to participate in online learning discussions, or liaise with teaching staff.
“A mature approach to study comes with a built-in resilience born from experience and knowledge and a determination to achieve,” Shaun says.
“These are critical skill sets for successful study.”
If you’ve ever thought about expanding your career horizons, making yourself more employable, or finding a career that gives you greater job choice, now is the time to consider online study to make that happen.
The Murray River Study Hub can support you while you upskill or study a new field as a mature age student. With our two campuses – in the Murraylands and in the Riverland – and our onsite student advisors, you’ll have all the flexibility of online learning, while also having access to support close to home.