How to learn a new skill

11 March 2021

An older man learning a new skill through an online course.

From teenagers that recently completed their GCSEs and college students to  people well into their professional adult lives, learning new skills is something that can be done at any age. It also could relate to any form of skill, whether it’s general life skills, a specific vocational or academic area you want to advance your knowledge in or a recognised qualification that can be earned through a form of further education.

Choosing to learn a new skill can benefit your personal development and boost your career opportunities by enhancing your knowledge and experience. But if you’re unsure of where to start, it may help to understand how you can approach learning new skills. In this blog, we offer tips on learning new skills, explain why it’s an important process and provide help with getting started.

How do we learn new skills?

If you want to learn new skills as part of your own personal development or to benefit your professional performance, it could help to use a few important techniques. For example, when it comes to learning a new skill, you should:

  • Explain the new information you’ve learned to someone else
  • Find and utilise effective learning styles
  • Identify a learning programme that works for you
  • Maintain an open mind to new information, approaches and subject areas
  • Research and learn from experts in the field you’re studying
  • Spend additional time improving on areas you’re struggling with
  • Step out of your comfort zone
  • Take part in hands-on learning at every opportunity
  • Test yourself in unfamiliar areas
  • Understand the reasoning behind how aspects of what you’re learning works
  • Allow for regular breaks

How long does it take to learn new skills?

The time it takes to learn a new skill is likely to be dependent on the type of skill you’re learning and your own personal learning style. For example, if you’re undertaking a course as part of an  apprenticeship, between learning the course material, taking exams and getting hands-on experience at a placement, it could realistically take several months to complete your course. Alternatively, picking up a more basic skill is likely to take significantly less time.

Interestingly, Florida State University famously carried out a study that concluded that it could take the average person 10,000 hours of practice to completely master a skill. However, skill acquisition expert Josh Kaufman claims that it shouldn’t take anywhere near 10,000 hours to learn a new skill and that, with deliberate practice, learning a new skill could take as little as 20 hours.

Why is learning new skills important?

Learning new skills carries many benefits and it speaks volumes of the person who is willing to do it. For example, if someone decides to learn a new role in a totally different industry to the one they’re currently in, potential employers are likely to see the determination and initiative they’ve taken to learn new skills while maintaining other commitments such as working in a different role or raising a family.

Along with broadening career opportunities and increasing employability, learning new skills also benefits the individual in many ways on a personal level. By learning new skills, people are able to improve their:

  • Adaptability
  • Brain chemistry
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Connections
  • Engagement
  • Knowledge
  • Learning speed
  • Mental and physical health
  • Relevancy
  • Usefulness.

What new skills can I learn?

For anyone that is interested in learning a new skill, there is a vast array of options, both in terms of qualifications and life skills that could be learned independently. With developing technology, you can learn just about anything from the comfort of your own home. This is a concept that has become even more evident during the COVID-19pandemic, where many people have been forced to learn new skills and earn recognised qualifications online due to traditional methods of learning being unavailable.

In terms of earning a qualification through online learning and hands-on work experience, you may want to consider one of the financial services courses we offer. Through Simply Academy, you can kickstart your career in finance, become accredited with a recognised qualification, learn on the job and gain everything you need to secure employment within the financial services industry.

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