New year, new career?

Man takes notes at a desk in a classroom, with other students behind him

Learn how to upskill or retrain to get into the career you want.

Has the new year got you thinking about a change in career? Find out how to explore your options, and ways you could upskill or retrain.

Research opportunities

If you’re thinking about moving into a new career, the first step is to do some research. Find out what opportunities are out there, and whether they’d be a good fit for you.

Interview people with careers that interest you

Talk to people whose careers interest you. Ask them questions like:

  • How did you get into the job?
  • What do you enjoy most about it?
  • Do you think it is a good career to get into?

Work shadow

If you interview someone about their job and find you want to know more, ask your interviewee if you could observe them at work for a day. This can give you a sense of what their job is like.

Use our tools to help you choose a career

Our online tools can also help you make a decision about what career you’d like to move into.

Once you’ve done your research and decided what career you’d like to get into, you may need to upskill or retrain.


Upskilling involves learning new skills to help you progress in your career.

If the job you’d like to move into is in the same field as your current one, upskilling might be the way to go.

Upskilling at work

Common ways to upskill at work include:

  • Coaching and mentoring – this involves meeting regularly with a manager to see how you are developing, and to make sure you get chances to build on your skills.
  • On-the-job training – many workplaces offer opportunities to train on the job, which might involve a mix of learning at work and in the classroom.
  • Work-funded study – some employers pay for their staff to do study or training through providers such as universities and polytechnics.
  • Secondmentthis involves working in a new role at the same organisation for a set period, which allows you to learn new skills and try something different.

Online learning and micro-credentials

Doing a short online course is another way to upskill. Many websites, such as Udemy, Lynda and Khan Academy, offer online courses in a variety of skills. A number of these courses are free, but some cost a small amount.

Another option could be to do a micro-credential course. Micro-credentials are small, stand-alone credentials that prove the achievement of specific skills, experience or knowledge. Micro-credentials are starting to be offered by providers in New Zealand and can help you gain skills needed for a new career.

For example, if you wanted to move into a project management position you could do some micro-credentials in project management to complement the skills you already have.


If the career you want to move into is completely different from what you currently do, you may need to retrain.

Common ways to retrain include:

Distance learning

Distance learning through a university or polytechnic lets you fit study in around your work and life commitments.

You may even be able to get fees-free support or a scholarship to help cover the costs of study.

Part-time study

Another option is part-time study. You can do this in person or by distance learning. While it will take you longer to gain a qualification, studying part time gives you flexibility.

Full-time study

For some people, full-time study is the best option. While you’ll need to work less or stop working altogether, you can finish your study faster than if you were to study part time.


If you want to move into a trade, an apprenticeship could be the way to go.

Updated 9 Jan 2019