Why it’s important to keep improving your skills

 

Personally understanding how to address the advances in society is the hallmark of a good employee as they transition from frontline to management and beyond.

Why it’s important to keep improving your skills

With the changing work environment, any employee in a service industry can tell you how important it is to maintain a thirst for learning new skills. Look at most larger grocery stores or fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and you can see how positions with limited skill requirements are being replaced by robotic kiosks and self-checkouts.

Look closer however, and there is a second story to be told. Who built those kiosks? Who installed them? Who maintains them? Even if a new industry has been established to deal with the installation, you still need someone in the store for when the checkout invariably fails or a barcode is damaged enough it can’t be read.

It isn’t just the march of technology; however, that tells us we should continue to learn new skills. We are learning more about the world every day. We know more about the human body, how to produce food, even how to paint. Personally understanding how to address the advances in society is the hallmark of a good employee as they transition from frontline to management and beyond.

 

Always have a professional development plan

 

Do you know where you want to be in 5 years? Or 10? Someone entering the workforce today will have as many as 50 years of employment before they retire. That means 5 decades of work. Work that can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically demanding. Are you ready to set off on that journey without knowing where you want to be? Sure, you may be on the path to becoming a painter, dietician, vet, doctor, piano player, insert any profession you wish here, but is that where you want to be 5 decades from now?

It’s important to have an idea of where you want to end up before retirement. Understanding this will help you plot the course to get there. Most of us aren’t capable of maintaining a high physical level of participation our entire work lives so we have to be honest when we’re exploring where we want to be.

 

Self-assessment

 

You probably took stock of your skills the last time you looked at your resume. Even if you did however, it's good to review your soft and physical skills periodically so you know you're capable of accomplishing your current job, let alone the next one you apply for.
 
When you review your skills, don't stay in the cubicle that your job has created for you. You are not defined by your vocation. You may have gained hand eye coordination by playing darts after work or leadership skills by becoming a scout leader. Everything comes into play when reviewing your skills because the next element is to acknowledge how strong those particular skills are. Just because you are an expert at repairing computers doesn’t mean your limited proficiency at repairing lawnmowers isn’t useful or enjoyable.
 

Recognize how you can learn

Training may come from online courses, intensive onsite training, or through reading and listening to books. Once you understand how you learn best, you can search for programs that best support that learning. The Internet is full of education programs like Udemy or personalized trainers. Many of them will also have support mechanisms like Facebook masterclasses that you can pass ideas to other students.
 

Is there financial support?

 
Many employers are happy to provide training directly or support you through your training. All you have to do is ask. There are federal and provincial programs available for funding as well.
 
Pro Tip: Getting help from your employer will be easier if you can show the skills you want will benefit them.
 

The Benefits of learning new skills

 
There are other benefits of gaining new skills aside from career advancement. They include:
 
·       Personal advancement
·       Increased payscale
·       New job
·       Current job specification change
 
 

Lifelong journey

 

Our professional careers will span decades and with the average length of a job shrinking since the baby boomer generation, we know we’ll need to develop new skills. Even if we stay in the same fields, advancements in technology and our understanding of the world around us dictate we will need to grow professionally to keep abreast of our professional and personal development. The best thing to do is to envision where we want to be and see what skills we should be practicing to achieve those goals.