Skill development is a must for creative professionals who want to stay relevant, secure plum assignments, and earn a higher salary or promotion.

Worried your skills will become obsolete? It can be challenging to get the right training – or any training – on the job. Thirty-two percent of more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision makers surveyed by The Creative Group said their company provides some training, but not necessarily on the most relevant topics. Nine percent said their firms provide little or no training or skills development options.

In the same survey, advertising and marketing hiring decision makers said the most challenging aspects of keeping their creative and marketing employees’ skills up to date is finding time for employees to participate in training and identifying appropriate skills development options.

What do these stats mean for creative professionals? For one, the onus is on you to get the skills development you need. Here are five affordable skill development options:

1. On-the-job training

Institutional knowledge is a big asset for any company, and cross-training is one way to take advantage of it. If you know colleagues who have mastered skills you’d like to learn, find out if they would be willing to give you a few pointers. Or, approach your manager about setting up something more formal, like a brown-bag series where employees can learn from experts from within or outside the company during the lunch hour. In addition to expanding your knowledge base, you’ll build camaraderie with your peers, which can boost morale, aid conflict-resolution and make solving problems easier.

2. Mentoring

Many creative professionals know the value of having a mentor, but it can be difficult to figure out how to find and approach one. A mentor can be someone in your department, from another department or outside your company. Think about the type of skills you want to acquire to help pinpoint prospective candidates.

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3. Traditional classes

Getting a degree can be time consuming and expensive, but you shouldn’t shy away from academia. Find out if a nearby university offers a certificate program or allows students to take classes without pursuing a degree. If you want to learn a specific skill, like coding or UI design, consider enrolling in a workshop. Even attending a one-day training event can set you on the right course. Finally, don’t forget to inquire about your company’s tuition reimbursement policy.

4. E-learning

If you’re too busy to attend in-person classes or none are available in your city, e-learning can be a good alternative. This approach to skill development allows you to listen to lectures, chat with classmates, submit coursework and meet with instructors without leaving your home or office. Some companies, like CreativeLive, Envato Tuts+ and The Creative Group, even offer free courses. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are another option for those who want to learn at their own pace. Sites like offer MOOCs on everything from Photoshop to web development to design thinking.

5. Webinars and YouTube 

If you’re truly strapped for time, consider registering for a webinar once or twice each quarter. Many are less than an hour and can be viewed live or on demand. You can even search YouTube at your leisure. Companies (like LinkedIn Learning), organizations (like AIGA and TED Talks), and industry enthusiasts post informational and inspirational videos regularly. 

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Which best describes the amount of training your company makes available to creative employees?

32% We provide some training, but it’s not necessarily on the most relevant topics.
60% We provide ample training on relevant topics.
9% We provide little or no training.

What is the most challenging aspect of keeping your creative employees’ skills up to date?

30% Finding time for them to participate in training
28% Identifying appropriate training
25% Motivating them to participate in training
18% Paying for/subsidize training

Source: The Creative Group survey of more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision makers in the United States

Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

©2018 The Creative Group. A Robert Half Company. An Equal Opportunity Employer. M/F/Disability/Veterans.