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There’s never been a more exciting time to be a creative. Ten years ago, many of our jobs didn’t exist. In ten more years, there will be even more roles for us to add our experience to.

Jobs for life are a thing of the past. None of us can afford to remain static.

We’re all faced with a mountain of learning opportunity. It’s hardly surprising so many of us are paralysed by the prospect of mounting it. Think of all those Flash developers watching their hard earned skills careen into obsolescence.

So what should we, as creative professionals learn if we’re to stay ahead of the pack?

My Flash anecdote should hopefully exemplify the reasons why software alone won’t save you. Packages are updated at an alarming rate (how else would Adobe remain solvent?). Learning every shortcut of every programme will only serve to cannibalise the precious learning time you do have.

One of the directors at my studio has spent the past 3 years teaching himself front end development (HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript). He made that decision to enable us to manage smaller jobs in-house without having to employ a full time developer. However, we still choose to partner up with development agencies on larger digital projects because Joe’s talent as a UX designer is far more valuable. The short-term financial gains of keeping 100% of the budget in-house are outweighed by the benefit of having his skills and experience on our client-facing team.

There are two ways of pseudo-scientifically deciding what skills are most beneficial to your arsenal. One is financial gain. What skills are you regularly buying in? Will doing it yourself save you money in the long term? The second requires more a more strategic approach. What skills can you learn to enhance your existing output?

Let me explain. If you’re regularly hiring a photographer for product shots, you may gain financially by teaching yourself these skills. However, if you want to grow your practice, up-skilling from logo designer to brand strategist may reap long term wins.

It’s not really my job to tell you what you should learn, however, having worked in the creative industries for over a decade, I will give you a few nudges in the right direction.

Collaboration is changing how we deliver our projects. Clients are beginning to realise the value in audience research and feedback. Knowing how to analyse data and ask the right questions of the right people will keep your skills fresh for a long time to come. Knowing how to plan and deliver a workshop and present those insights will never date in the way software skills will.

Other skills, despite have less immediate financial reward will pay off in spades as your career progresses. Knowing how to properly manage a project, motivate a flagging team or manage a needy client with tact will save you in time and (eventually) money.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of what to learn, now it’s up to you to work out exactly how you’re going to do it.

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