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Part 5: How Do I learn "Useful" Skills

Updated: Feb 10

If you have successfully completed the exercises in Part 4. How do I pick a career?, you will have a clearer idea of the kind of person you want to become.


Let’s now look at the skills you’ll need to get there.

Note, we’re qualifying developing “useful” skills as we want to steer our learning towards at least one of our multiple lives we came up with in Part 4.


What are the different types of skills?


Skills can be roughly divided into:

  • Foundational skills - literacy, langage, numeracy

  • Technical skills - specific to a role, industry or task. E.g. brick laying or hairdressing

  • Enterprise skills - transferable skills used across many different domains. E.g. communication or creativity


Foundational skills is seen as the responsibility of K-12 schooling and with minor exceptions, these skills are taught sufficiently well for students in developed countries.


Technical skills are most often taught at university or VET courses; where students study specific skills like accounting or architecture to succeed in their chosen fields.


Enterprise skills are important skills that jobs of the future demand 70% more than jobs of the past. Source. These skills are often more difficult to learn in a classroom and require a higher degree of student agency. For example, the only way a student can become a confident public speaker is by practicing public speaking. This cannot be forced by teachers onto the student.


What skills should I learn?


Assuming you have completed schooling and have covered basic literacy and numeracy, the most important skill group to focus on is enterprise skills first and foremost.



Enterprise skills are in higher demand by employers than technical skills, 20% more to be precise. This is because people with enterprise skills are more well-rounded, resilient and better able to communicate their ideas than people with only technical skills.


Looking into the future, enterprise skills will play an increasingly important role in the workplace as it’ll be more difficult for an AI algorithm to creatively problem solve and communicate its findings to a room full of people.


Here are the top 4 enterprise skills to focus on:

  1. Growth mindset and resilience- the ability to handle setbacks, learn from mistakes and adopt a mindset for self-learning and growth is one of the most important skills for lifelong learning and career success. This is because as we discussed in our future of work post, the world is changing at a much faster rate than before and it’s ever more important to learn to adapt and stay resilient.

  2. Communication, presentation skills and teamwork - Communication skills are especially important in technical fields as most students in these fields are poor at public speaking and communication. Presentation skills alone makes a $9,000 per year difference to your salary. source

  3. Problem solving, critical thinking and creativity - All students would benefit from developing their problem solving and critical thinking abilities. The FYA predicts this skill alone makes a difference of $8,000 per year to your salary. source

  4. Digital and financial literacy - This is a must for any young person entering the workforce. 90% of future jobs require digital literacy with over half requiring advanced digital skills like coding. source



How do I develop enterprise skills?


1. Working

If you’re in school, pursue practical experiences above all else. Aggressively pursue casual/part-time jobs, internships and apprenticeships that align with any of your 3 lives statements. Think long term.


Working at Mcdonalds might not seem like you’re saving the world, however the communication skills learnt and experience handling money can be extremely beneficial for your next role. Remember at this point, your goal is to learn as many skills that align with your goals.


If you have an idea or don’t like the sound of working retail and hospitality jobs, start your own business. Start small. You could be selling lemonade at the local markets. This will teach you the basics of finance, presentation skills and creativity.

If you are more tech savvy, build an online product. Nothing will teach digital literacy and growth mindset faster than building your own start-up.


2. Extra-curricular activities

Get involved in as many extra-curricular events that you find remotely interesting. Debate club, sure. Chess club, okay. Jazz club, yes. Volunteering to save koalas, definitly!


Give everything a go because at this point; the more experiences you expose yourself to, the quicker you’re going to pick up practical enterprise skills.



3. Travel

If you can travel, do it. Taking a gap year might not seem like a good idea for your career but in the long run, it will pay dividends. Traveling exposes you to many different environments and cultures and allows you to develop key skills:

  • Communication skills: meeting hundreds of new people

  • Financial literacy: managing and budgeting your money

  • Resilience: dealing with the inevitable setbacks (lost credit cards, stolen passports, and much more)

  • And much more


4. Reading and mentors

Some of the most successful people that have ever lived have written about their 80,000+ hours of experience in a book that takes 5 hours to read. This is one of fastest shortcuts to developing any skill. Learn from the best in the craft.


If you want to learn public speaking, why not learn from Chris Anderson, the head of TED. If you want to learn resilience, why not learn from Mahatma Gandhi or how about learning to become wealthy from Warren Buffett.


If you can, find yourself a few mentors in the skills you want to develop. Ask kindly for their time and explain what skills you’re looking to learn. You will be amazed how many people are willing to help you.


How do I develop technical skills?


Now that you've got a plan to develop your enterprise skills, let's talk about technical skills.


Technical skills are those that are specific to a job or industry. For example, you'll need to learn about human anatomy if you want to get into medicine.


So what technical skills should you learn?


That depends on your life plan developed in Part 4. How do I pick a career?. Complete the exercises here if you haven't done so already.


Reviewing your multiple lives plan will help you determine which technical skills you should pursue in the final years of school and leaving school.


For example, if you want to be the kind of person who helps design buildings for others using your interests in creativity and skills in design, you might consider acquiring some more specific technical skills in architecture, design and construction management.


Let's review how you can learn technical skills:


1. Learning on the job

Similar to acquiring enterprise skills, the most effective way to learn technical skills is hands-on. If you’re still in school, you would want to get hands-on experience as quickly as you can either in the form of a unpaid internship, casual job or apprenticeship.

Speaking to your career advisor would be the best way to start this conversation.

There are also a tonne of great resources like virtual interships that can give you real life skills without leaving the comfort of your home.


2. Enrol at University or VET course

When making this decision of what to study, consider which technical skills you’re looking to learn rather than the piece of paper your mum is going to hang on the wall. Think about what style of learning best suits you. Do you prefer to learn hands-on practical skills (VET) or do you prefer a more academic path (Uni)?


Remember that 1 in 5 students going to university will drop out and 1 in 3 will change their degree. Source. So before deciding on a course, make sure you have prototyped your path and spoken to at least 3 people who have studied your chosen degree. More on this here.


3. Self-learning

The world is changing and so is education. Today, you’re able to learn online from almost any course from top universities and educators at no cost or very little cost.

The term used for this type of online learning is MOOC (massive open online course) but that isn’t the only form of learning.

For the self-starting learner, the options for learning are infinite. How about teaching yourself to paint on YouTube? Or what about learning to code through interactive exercises? Or what about learning about cool new technologies from some of the smartest people in the field?




Now, it's your turn to put all the pieces together and start taking action!



But before you do, here's a snake to distract you :)




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