Friday 4 September 2015 5:43 am

How to upskill yourself: New trends like P2P learning make personal development far easier

It's September. Fresh-faced graduates are buying their first suits, working out their daily commute and learning how to use the coffee machine. 
Insecurities start to set in: what do they have that you don’t? Will they get one comprehensive training session after the other while you’re stuck in the same daily routine?
Or perhaps you’re a business owner suddenly confronted with staff who want more training, as “upskilling” becomes the new buzzword.
Now is the perfect time to reassess your skills – or those of your employees – and get started on some training.
If you are bored of the tried and tested training courses, short on budget or simply at a loss as to where to start, here are three ways to acquire new expertise for yourself or your company.


All you need is a laptop, an internet connection and a few hours to spare.
The Digital Business Academy, created by Tech City UK, is a MOOC (massive open online course) with a range of free online courses for anyone who wants to start, grow or join a digital business.
It covers topics from digital marketing and finance, to launching a digital product and building a brand. 
Because course content from MOOCs are available online, you can also learn from anywhere.
We’ve met small businesses which have used these courses to train their staff, with employees directed towards the modules that suit their role and goals in the business.
Setting targets for completion and putting time aside can help you go the distance and complete the courses.


What’s your strongest skill? Could you teach a colleague, partner or even a complete stranger how to acquire or develop it?
The idea behind peer-to-peer learning is that everyone has valuable skills and can be a teacher.
In some larger corporates, departments are challenged to create an interactive training session for other teams in different functions.
This type of peer-to-peer learning can be a great way to transfer and retain institutional knowledge.
Smaller companies can make the most of small business or industry-specific networks by pairing up with other firms that may have transferable skills they can pass on.
In the tech space, we see frequent examples, such as that of law firms swapping workshops with young tech startups.
The law firm will transfer knowledge about IP, and the tech startup will talk to the lawyers about how to use technology tools to increase internal communication. 
Increasingly, businesses are also encouraging their employees to seek out mentors who they can learn and get coaching from.
Mentoring gives individuals a supportive environment in which to grow and develop further.


A new twist on the classic training course, many companies are asking industry experts to come into their businesses for a short period of time to implement innovative strategies and embed skills into the team – bringing a digital marketer into a corporate to pass on skills and tips around agile marketing, for example.
Exposing teams to new views and perspectives can help firms transform their business processes. 
In order to continuously innovate, or even to keep pace with the market, every company should challenge itself and question whether there is a new, or better, way of doing something.
In business, the only constant is change, and embracing the upskilling movement is a powerful way to drive it.