Short courses

COVID prompts people to take short courses to future-proof their careers

Since the COVID pandemic, more and more Australians are looking to take quality short courses that will improve their skills, protect their jobs and advance their careers, according to a recent survey commissioned by the University of Melbourne.

The survey results show a significant increase in demand for refresher courses since the start of the pandemic, with the quality and reputation of the training institution being a key factor for prospective learners.

The survey, which was conducted by Kantar in July 2021 among 313 Australians aged 25-45 with a higher degree or higher qualification and open to upskilling, showed that the main reasons to do so are: advancing knowledge and skills (67%), updating and refreshing current skills and knowledge (45%), assisting in career progression (31%) and preparing careers for the future (30%).

Almost two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents believe that skills development over the next three years is essential to keep pace with changes in their profession and remain employable, showing that Australians are sensitive to the widespread changes in all sectors.

We spoke with Leah Ruppanner, associate professor of social and political science at the University of Melbourne, about the most popular courses taken by women and why.

Leah Ruppanner from the University of Melbourne says COVID has shown us new ways to learn and network.

What are the most popular short courses that women have taken since the start of the pandemic?

“Women are looking for skills that make them more competitive in a rapidly changing workplace. This includes the need to understand how AI will change the future of work and what kinds of skills will be needed to stay agile and competitive in the job market.

“We’re not all going to be coders and basic soft skills like adaptability, empathy and critical thinking are going to be increasingly valuable for the future of work. Women are in a unique position to take on these roles – our training gives them the skills to underpin their skills to build long-term competitive careers,” said Ruppanner.

Why do you think they are more inclined to take a short course – or a MicroCert – these days than they would have been before?

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown new ways to learn, interact and network online. This has opened up the world for women to retrain without huge financial and time investments. The MicroCert, which offers short, sharp and industry-focused online learning, is perfectly suited for retraining in an increasingly digital world. Our online courses attract learners from around the world, bringing together major industry leaders to learn collaboratively and collectively. We harness these new ways of working to create new ways of learning.

Women believe that a short course of a MicroCert will help them explore their potential and overall confidence more than men. Why do you think this is?

“Our Future of women at work is specifically designed to understand how AI and technological changes will affect women and to provide practical skills to prepare women for their professional future. Our courses show learners where major changes are coming, how these changes will impact women, and what kinds of policies and skills they will need for their professional future. A short course fits into the complicated lives of women who often have to juggle competing demands – at work, with families, with children, with friends and with colleagues. These courses give women access to world leaders from the comfort of their own homes, in their own lives. Flexible learning is the future and we are at the forefront of this offer.

A high percentage of both men and women believe that improving skills is important to keep pace with changes in their profession. Do you think it’s because technology moves at a rapid pace and no matter the industry, everyone needs to keep up?

“Technological changes are only one piece of the puzzle. What is truly innovative about our Future of Women at Work series is that we provide learners – men and women – with a better understanding of how technological and social changes will shape the future of work. Regardless of industry or skill, building a foundational knowledge of where jobs will disappear or revolutionize and how to develop foundational skills for the future of work benefits everyone. Understanding where women fit into these major shifts is also key to creating an equitable, just and productive workforce. Our course is consciously constructed with these intentions in mind.

MicroCertsProfessor Gregor Kennedy acknowledges that the world of work is changing

Leah Ruppanner’s words are echoed by Professor Gregor Kennedy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University of Melbourne, who says the world of work is changing and there is enthusiasm for short courses and recognized for developing professional skills.

“Degrees always serve an extremely important purpose – to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding in a field or discipline, and to develop fundamental analytical skills and abilities. But this survey shows what we’ve been seeing for some time: that professionals are eager to keep up with advances in knowledge, technology and specific areas of practice, and that they want to be recognized for any professional development they do. in these areas. »

“The University responded to this need by creating Melbourne Micro Certificationswhich are targeted and assessed short courses that allow professionals to remain competitive by improving their knowledge and skills,” he adds.

launched this year, Melbourne Micro Certifications are flexible, quality micro-certificates developed and delivered by the University of Melbourne in partnership with industry experts. They focus on in-demand areas including leadership, management and change: data, technology and digital transformation; creative thinking and communication; contemporary education; sustainable practices; and health and innovation. Fundamentals of intrapreneurship, Change managementandRecognize and manageDisinformation are just three examples.

Overall, the top three barriers to improving skills were cost (65%), course length (51%), and finding time to study outside of work and personal commitments (50%). %). Melbourne Micro Certifications are shorter than a traditional university subject and are designed to be taken flexibly, to suit learners who are short on time and juggle other commitments.

The survey also revealed that while 74% of respondents’ current employers offer upgrading courses and the majority find them useful in some way, only 13% find them very useful. Nearly half of respondents are open to upskilling outside of the workplace, and nearly three-quarters (73%) would consider paying for professional development courses.

Other insights include gender-based differences in learning motivations, with more women (89%) than men (79%) agreeing that upskilling helps them explore their potential. Women are also more likely to improve their skills to improve their overall confidence (27%) than men (19%).

For more information on Melbourne MicroCerts, visit here.

About Melbourne Micro-Certifications: Melbourne MicroCerts are the University of Melbourne’s offering of a microcredit, which is a new type of certification that is rapidly gaining traction in higher education and industry across the world.

These are small, accessible courses focusing on specific skills, knowledge and dispositions allowing individuals to improve their skills in flexible increments, rather than committing to a full degree program or degree. They offer the learner the possibility to organize their own learning path and spread the financial commitment over time, while preserving the possibility of moving on to longer and more traditional study programmes.

A key feature of micro-certificates is that they are recognized by information-rich digital certificates that can be shared digitally and through social media platforms, such as LinkedIn. This means that learners can easily showcase their abilities to potential employers and credentialing bodies, creating a more seamless link between education and employment.

LinkedIn Learning: professional, creative and technological online courses