Build your skills to be future relevant
By Angela de Longchamps
Three of the five top-rated professional skills (according to LinkedIn) for 2019 include UX Design, AI and Cloud Computing. That is an intimidating list if you are not an IT wizard. A cold sweat may prickle when you look at your current basket of skills and get that sinking feeling that you may not be as relevant in a few year’s time as you thought you would be when you took on that 5-year degree in the 90’s! You need to be living in a hole in the ground not to see the trend towards technology being everywhere and in everything. We have some way to go, but the pace is accelerating and whilst you may hold out a hope that you’ll make it to retirement without having to reskill… I am not sure that is realistic.
So now what?
Most of us (I would hope) are regularly putting away money for the glory days of the post-work season of life. Some of us (I would assume) are very aware of what is currently in our bank account and investments, and what insurance we have. So your financial equity is something that makes sense to you and is under fairly regular review.
However, are you investing in the resource that will provide the most for you in the future? You!
I have found that after studying a lot of people plateau their proactive skills acquisition efforts and learn what is needed as they go along. For the most part, people employed in large corporates rely quite heavily on the skills and training courses provided for them by the company. And whilst this is useful, is it enough?
Investing in your personal equity is about building your skills to be future relevant. I have learnt since leaving guaranteed employment that there is so much that I didn’t know, so much that I just assumed and took for granted. That in fact, my comfort zone had become my comfort prison. The more dependent I had become on the organisation that employed me, the less personally resilient I was. If you invest in your skills & expertise and deepen them, get knowledgeable about the technology developments in and around your space; the more confident you become in your own right and the more value you are able to deliver to your company, because you are less afraid.
The acquisition of skills helps you grow in confidence. You know that regardless of what happens in the organisation you are in right now, you are growing a set of skills that is relevant for the market. When you have skills, you can take risks. When you have skills, you are not afraid of change.
Sidebar: I was training at a large financial institution recently in South Africa and when I told them that there were on line learning resources that anyone could make use of (independent of the bank); they looked at me with huge eyes and had wonder on their faces. Apparently there are still many people who are not aware that you can log in and visit, browse, select and learn skills on line. So I highly recommend that you share these sites and any others you know of with people who are living in the pre-digital age still. They do exist, these people, and they need our help.
So, how to start investing in personal equity?
- Audit your current skills: a good way to do this is to create or update your CV, and when it asks for “Skills” write them down. Take a deep breath and start making a plan to become more relevant for the future. You will thank yourself!
- Then get on line and do some reading. You’ll need to read newsletters, blogs, publications for your industry or line of work. Get a sense of what is happening outside your office window and outside your organisation. This may take a while and I would encourage you to reach out to some progressive thinking colleagues and friends. Ask their advice, ask them what they are learning and reading. (Refer to my blog on networking for more help here).
Log on to one of the many on-line learning portals:
And start. Just start with anything so you get into the swing of taking ownership for your own learning. Once you build self-driven learning momentum, you will be surprised how you can learn and invest in your personal equity.
It is like starting to save: Start now, start small and increase incrementally. In a few years, your money and your skills will be worth a lot more than the sacrifice made today.