The job cycle is getting shorter. We need to look at our employment maintenance and continuing education in a different light.
Accountability - Why Employment Maintenance is Important
Starting a job late in life is a scary prospect, but in today’s climate, it’s a reality that many employees have to deal with. Not only do we have to deal with the stress of not having an income, but we have to go through the process of finding, applying, and obtaining a job.
According to Statistics Canada, Baby Boomers enter their fifties having worked for the same employer for at least 12 years, some for as long as 20 years. On the other hand, Gen Xer’s, born between the mid 60’s to the mid 80’s, averaged just over 3 jobs in the last 12 years, while those in Gen Y had almost 4 jobs.
The downward trend in employment longevity could be due to many reasons, but what we need to acknowledge is that the job cycle is getting shorter. People in today’s workforce will end up with more than ten career changes over their working lives.
Seeing this inevitable reality, we need to look at our employment maintenance and continuing education in a different light.
It isn’t so much as keeping up with the Joneses when we continue to add skills, but that we are adding to our toolbox as the employment landscape changes. The technological landscape has changed since the Baby Boomers first entered the workforce.
With things like automation, technological advancements, and our general understanding of the world around us, we need to know more and be prepared to work differently. It’s important to keep learning new techniques and methods of applying our trade.
This skill maintenance can be used for a twofold purpose. The first is job retention. By widening our skillbase, we are able to do more and assist in any expansion our employers wish to explore. The second is to make us a better, more saleable commodity if we do end up looking for a new job. In either case, having a wide variety of skills is an asset.
How to pursue that continuing maintenance
Learning new skills at any age can be difficult. After we leave the school environment, our minds lose the elasticity that made it so we could absorb so much information. We need to be prepared.
Know your Limits
When it comes to learning new skills, your understanding of what you are capable of will inform you about what you should learn. This could be technical skills like how to operate machinery or soft skills like leadership. You should periodically do a skills audit to know what you can and can’t do and apply those skills to the job you currently possess.
Know how you learn
Everyone learns differently. It could be through listening to audio tapes or a hands-on skill clinic. What matters is that you know how you learn best so you can choose those forms when it comes to training.
Pro Tip: Look for new forms of education like VR that make it easier for older students to learn.
Look for opportunities
Whether it’s a random seminar or weekly skills course, when you see training, you should take advantage of them. In the past, training has been seen as a deficiency in your current abilities, not as the expansion of them. When you can recognize opportunities, you will be able to see how you can acquire skills easier as well.
See where you want to be
Do you want to be in the same job a decade from now? Some people will say yes. The job could be fulfilling enough that you don’t need anything else. That doesn’t mean you won’t need new skills to perform that job or any other. Imagine yourself in your dream position ten years from now and then look at the skills that future job needs.
Learn how to focus
Clearing your mind and day of distractions will help you absorb more information. Here is a piece we put together on time management and focusing your thoughts.
Ask about support
Though it may not be advertised, many employers have an education policy. There is a benefit to the employer when you learn new skills. In fact, some employers will pay for your continuing higher education such as an MBA. They could do it by financing it and then you have to pay it back or through a contract in which you agree to remain with the company for a certain period.
Always be learning
Whether you’re doing it for your current employer or looking towards your next, learning new things will be an important part of your employment journey. Just like we need periodic maintenance on our vehicles to make sure they operate at peak efficiency, we need to keep adding skills and knowledge. Don’t look at it as something you’re forced to do. Look forward to it. Enjoying the learning process will help you achieve the employment goals you’ve set and create new ones if life gets in the way.