Everyone has an area of expertise when it comes to using their skills to the fullest. If you have been to college and have graduated, then you can justifiably consider yourself an authority on that subject. Equally, if you have a long employment history in a certain area, you can point to that as a demonstration that you know how things work in that regard. In each of the above cases, these are things that employers will be looking for when you come to apply for a job with their company. They are above all useful strings to your bow.
However, let us say that you have a diploma in engineering. Or equally, you have been working as an engineer for ten years. Through no fault of your own, the company you are working for goes bust and you find yourself looking for a new job. But as the dissolution of your old company now shows, the market for engineers is crowded, and those companies that are still operating are looking at keeping costs down so that they can compete in this crowded market. You could be looking for a job for a long time before you strike gold. In times of economic downturn especially, specialist knowledge can be less beneficial than it should be.
There is never a bad time to learn a second (or third, or… you get the picture) skill. Even while you are in a job, it is worth looking to the future. Statistics show that many people spend on average two to three years in a job. This comes about for many reasons – career breaks, layoffs, illness, and more – besides – and often the change is unforeseen. So it is worth having the extra knowledge in your armory. Studying another language, taking an accountancy course, or learning a trade like plumbing or electrics are just a few of the extra skills that crop up particularly often.
There are differing opinions on how to choose the best extra skill. Some would say that if, for example, you work as an electrician, learning plumbing is a useful second skill to pick up. After all, when new houses are being built, plumbers and electricians will both be needed to complete the work. You will build up a range of contacts who will be able to put work your way. Others disagree and say that learning a skill that differs meaningfully is best because when there are not many new houses being built, electricians and plumbers may well find themselves in the same boat – but an accountant may have a lot of work. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, but really you are best deciding for yourself as it is undeniable that people learn best when they are most comfortable.