With technology and globalization driving drastic changes in the way we live and work, the need for adaptation in the workplace has become obvious to most (if not all!) of us. However updating your skillset so that it fits the market trends also means getting the right and most recent training programmes upstream. And this often arises as a major pain point in organizations, especially with limited resources.

Nevertheless, if your employer does struggle to get you updated training materials internally, remember that you owe it to yourself to look for alternatives and grow your knowledge regardless of whether you see yourself as a typically self-taught individual or not. Employees more and more take charge of their continuous development, to the extent of investing their own time and money on such activity because they know that knowledge may not be a tangible asset but the most valuable one nonetheless.

So now, how can we as employees, keep our mind sharp and skillset on point?


Online learning

Many on-line quality platforms offer courses straight out from famous universities such as MIT, Harvard and many others, for moderate fees or for free, EDX and Coursera are good examples.

Other platforms offer courses created by experts in the field and for this purpose, Udemy is a personal favorite.

The advantage of this option is that you can study from home (or anywhere else), at the time you want. It is also possible to verify your identity to prove legitimacy to increase the value of the certificates.

Of course, learning is also done by interactions with other classmates, which is here limited to forums and chats. This method is definitely good for those who:

  • live in a remote location,
  • have an irregular schedule that does not allow much planning ahead,
  • or are simply exploring a field of study before the next step.


Short (On-site) Intensive Courses

Both private and public organizations have introduced short/intensive courses as part of their offering. These courses often offer the same or similar content as typical academic degrees but are shorter and designed for professionals. The time range can go from 1 week to several months. The shorter ones can be easily taken during full-time employment, while the longer ones are perfect for between jobs breaks. The advantage of this option is the possibility of acquiring skills rapidly to return to the job market and monetize your investment. However, longer courses may require a career break, which isn’t an option to all. Before subscribing, check the ratings and opinions on-line and look at the experience and background of the trainers. These are the points that will make the difference between a good and a not-so-good program.


For example, in Amsterdam, if you want a career change and move into programming/data engineering, you might look at private organizations such as Xebia Academy, Ironhack or Codaisseur.

Regular degrees tailored for workers

This last category is definitely challenging. It means combining a regular full-time job with a traditional university program. Luckily, numerous public and private universities have built flexible paths that match the lifestyle of a busy professional. Such programs might be offered with a combination of evening studies, intense week modules, and weekend meetings. Other programs blend on-site sessions with online  assignments, in order to benefit from both traditional and innovative approaches. These programs span from a minimum of 1 year for Master’s degrees up to 3/4 years for a Bachelor. The commitment is substantial but completely worth the reward in my humble opinion.

Here the key to success is threefold: being willing to give up immediate satisfaction for future reward, being disciplined and having a support system. This last one is crucial: your closest ones are your true sponsors. You will have moments when you want to quit or have an assignment that is just too difficult. Your loved ones will make sure to give you the support you need to navigate through this.

In short

I would like to wrap up this article with an old Roman proverb, printed on my MBA diploma that I have just earned: Non progredi est regredi that translates “to not go forward is to go backward”. Learning is a lifelong journey, so pack your baggage with curiosity and patience and enjoy the adventure!