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It’s tough to think about moving ahead in your career when all you want right now is to stay healthy, keep your family safe, and put food on the table. Even though focusing on the right now is the best many can do at present, when people get back to work, employers will notice those that used their time at home constructively to build skills and gain knowledge. There are many ways to boost your career while sheltering at home.

Find Time

Some households have two adults trying to work from home while homeschooling their children and caring for elderly parents. Others may have a little more breathing room. Either way, committing time to learning a new skill or taking an online course takes planning. If you used to have a 20-minute drive to work, you now have 20 minutes to read an article on improving communication skills or leading cross-functional teams. Another tip to finding time is to pack your lunch just as if you were taking it with you to work. This saves you time on your lunch hour so you can consider what new skills you’d like to add to your tool belt or which existing skills you could upgrade.

Research Online Training Opportunities

One thing that has become very clear during the pandemic is that technical skills are essential. Companies that pivoted quickly to online operations or were already heavily involved in online operations were better prepared to keep going during the enormous disruption the pandemic has caused. Coming out of quarantine with enhanced coding and web design skills can add value that encourages your employer to keep you on and support your continuing career development.

In addition to tech skills like coding and web design, online courses are available in everything from management and leadership to languages and writing. Medical, pharmaceutical, and testing laboratories are essential to the development of treatments, production of equipment, and research into vaccines that will help in the battle against COVID-19. Aspiring laboratory workers can take online courses that feature live sessions or self-timed modules to develop skills and learn proper lab procedures.

The pandemic has opened opportunities in skilled trades, particularly in the energy efficiency field, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute. RMI has compiled efforts in several states to prepare a workforce to install and maintain clean and efficient energy systems, such as solar and wind power, heat pumps, insulation, and efficient water heaters.

Another area that was already essential in the workplace has now become critical and is likely to remain so: occupational health and safety. The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a fact page about training to earn an “OSHA card” and a page devoted to workplace safety relating to COVID-19.

Keep a Record of Continuing Education and Training

Reading up on new developments in your industry counts as a form of continuing education and demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning. Keep a list or journal of the steps you take while sheltering at home to stay current in your field. Get documentation of your participation if you take a course or earn a certificate that can demonstrate you used your time to boost your career skills while sheltering at home.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.