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Future-proofing your career is always a good idea – regardless of when you do it

Why it’s never too late to upskill

One of the most common myths about technology is that it’s for the young. This has come about because of facts (technology is new by definition) and anecdotal information (misrepresentative stories of young tech billionaires).

Popular culture and media portray the tech world, IT departments and just about anyone with tech skills as a sea of hoodies and skateboards; endless jargon and a scary world that’s becoming futuristic right before our eyes.

These images and stories fail to take a few key facts into account: 1- Modern workers can’t expect to retire until they’re in their late 60s (at best). 2- Employees change careers multiple times in their lifetimes. And 3- Upskilling has never been more accessible.

Then there’s this doozy from the recent Stack Overflow survey (which questioned 64,000 developers): “A common misconception about developers is that they’ve all been programming since childhood. In fact, we see a wide range of experience levels. Among professional developers, one-eighth (12.5%) learned to code less than four years ago, and an additional one-eighth (13.3%) learned to code between four and six years ago. Due to the pervasiveness of online courses and coding bootcamps, adults with little to no programming experience can now more easily transition to a career as a developer.”

The same survey found that many who work in IT are not formally educated, or at least not to degree level. And continuous learning is very common in tech: “Of current professional developers, 32% said their formal education was not very important or not important at all to their career success… a formal degree is only one aspect of their education, and so much of their practical day-to-day work depends on their company’s individual tech stack decisions.”

There are other things to consider too: Upskilling makes you look more appealing both to superiors at work and to prospective employers.

There’s also the possibility (nay likelihood) that you will use the new skills for decades to come. A 40-year-old has roughly thirty years left in their career, after all. And the commitment can only be part-time if you want it to be. In fact, your employer will likely welcome your intention to upskill, and might even help you out: Many workplaces have funds in place for training, and accommodate the time demands it brings.

As the old saying goes, the longest journey begins with a single step. And more than a few people have taken that step already.

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