Having and maintaining a career has changed when compared to what it was 15 years ago. You no longer get jobs for life, promotions that are based on your position or static work tasks year in and year out. Nowadays, the workplace is more flexible than what it was and employers value workers who take control of their careers and have a willingness to learn.
This places a major emphasis on personal upskilling, one of the common workplace buzzwords used. Upskilling involves anything from day-to-day learning on the job or going back to a learning institution and selecting from an array of short courses relevant to your job. If you want to get ahead, you need to do it yourself through upskilling. Career complacency is no longer acceptable in the workplace and could result in one becoming obsolete and unemployable in future.
The good news is that in South Africa, most companies are required by law to contribute an amount each month on behalf of each employee towards the Skills Levy, as prescribed by the Skills Development Levies Act. This entitles companies to apply for partial reimbursement for skills development done to benefit its staff, which ultimately benefits the business.
However, not all businesses are required to contribute towards the Skills Levy, but this shouldn’t deter a worker from finding ways to upskill themselves. When considering a particular course or skills development activity, it requires proper research and a bit of deep thought. Not only should you think what the prospective skills you will acquire can do for yourself, but what value it can add to your current place of employment.
Whether or not your employer contributes to the Skills Levy, it is vital to sell the value you are able to add to the company when seeking their assistance in some form. When an employer sees the effort made to upskill yourself, they will be more likely to support you in some way whether it be financially or in the form of time off to focus on your studies.
There are a number of things to consider when deciding on how to upskill yourself. For example, when considering a particular course of study, factors such as the sacrificing of of holiday time, family time, financial costs, added pressure of exams and assignments all need to be weighed up in order to reach a decision.
Furthermore, upskilling involves regular career planning sessions in which you map out where you want to go and how you intend on getting there. All it takes is a few hours a week. During this time you need to uncover what makes you happy in your job, what you are unhappy with at that moment, what changes do you need to make to your career for you to be happy and then what sacrifices are you willing to make.
In addition, the tips below will aid your attempt in upskilling yourself:
- Prepare to allocate time to your career plan. You need time to research, network and simply to think about what you want. Work that time into your week.
- Network. Talk to people both in career areas that interest you and also people who have done courses that might suit you.
- If you find a course that interests you, use your allocated time to go in and meet the director of that course. Going back to education is a big commitment. You need to really do your research and make sure the course is for you.
- Decide what level of course you are willing to do. For example, a short course or degree. Much of this will come down to your confidence and the time you’re prepared to commit.
- Consider the finances. If you can’t afford a full course, is there an option to do a module instead? Is there a short course that you can build on later?
- Make sure you have an eye on the bigger picture regarding your career. Know where the course you intend to do fits into your overall career plan.