If you are an independent worker, you know you need to constantly upgrade your skills set to get the next gig, keep clients happy, and just to make that personal progress meter tick up! But how do you do learn what you need to learn, and then learn it? We’ve gathered info about this from some great resources, so read on you freelancing futurist!

In a recent keynote address, Future of Work expert and founder of NextmappingCheryl Cran, underscored the need to upskill and reskill our personal talent portfolio to stay relevant and competitive. While Cran’s advice was aimed at staffing professionals, her prediction about addressing future skill gaps resonates with those of us with sole responsibility for our professional development. We need to think like futurists and anticipate and prepare for our clients’ needs down the road. Who wants to turn down a challenging project because we’re unfamiliar with the tech skills it requires? And, for the “glass half-full” types, a skill gap is an opportunity to freshen up your resume and chase new projects or to switch gears completely. 

World Economic Forum study echoes Cran’s message revealing that by 2022, 54% of all workers will require significant upskilling to meet the challenges of future assignments. Unlike HR departments with big training budgets, freelancers are left to their own devices to identify these future skill requirements, find relevant training, and figure out how to pay for it. But ignore this area of your business at your own peril: You might miss some interesting future opportunities and the satisfaction of learning new stuff. So, as freelancers we need to set up our own personal training programs.

Not sure where to start to identify the “need to know” skills for tomorrow? In a recent studyIndeed’s Career Guide offers 20 broad categories of hard and soft skills will get you going regardless of your industry. And while we often think about our tech skills in particular, the soft skills can’t be overlooked because let’s face it, if virtual work continues as predicted, we’re going to need the occasional refresh or overhaul of our virtual interpersonal skills. And in a second Indeed Career Guide report, you can find lists of the very specific in demand technical skills that also span industries and roles for a deeper dive.

It’s all well and good to know what you don’t know and need to learn, upskill, or reskill but where do you go to get those smarts? First, hit up your fellow smart solo peers. The most seasoned freelancers know their greatest source of upskill wealth is within their own community of fellow independents, regardless of the industries they serve. Once you do the work of figuring out your “need-to-know” tomorrow skills, find your people, and swap your know-how with them. You will be well on your way to establishing the foundation of your personal learning academy.

A solid next step is this list of 30 education resources for the top 10 in-demand hard and soft skills in Entrepreneur magazine to get you started. While the list favors courses offered through LinkedIn Learning, The Muse also offers a comprehensive list of other options including EdX, MIT open courseware, CodeAcadamy and Udemy, to name a few.

Professional development for the freelancer need not be a lonely undertaking: In addition to joining others for free online learning, share resources with your freelance folks and barter your own talents and expertise which can only help strengthen and support yourself and your community!

What are you looking to learn and how do you want to learn it? Reply here, link, and follow!

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