Continual development of skills

Continual Development

Continual Development

The need to continually develop your skills?

Nothing stays the same forever. Society and the work place are exposed to change on a frequent and rapid basis. To be able to keep up with the cycle of almost constant change it is important to continuously develop your skills if you want to maintain up-to-date employability skills. (See also my article at Learning to maintain your Employability Skills)

Active engagement in the learning process is needed, whether, it’s for work or leisure. It doesn’t matter too much, but the important thing is that you are adapting to change and keeping these skills up to date. Irrespective of where you have learnt to keep your employability skills up to date, you will be able to quickly adapt to the changing work environment without having to start from scratch again.

Maintaining good and current workplace skills gives you the confidence to successfully complete a task in an efficient and effective way; this is vitally important to an employer if their business is to stay as a sustainable going concern.

The continued development of your skills can also help to keep you motivated and to maintain or improve your job satisfaction. We look at several motivational theories on our site, with continual development being one of the self-actualisation needs being identified by Maslow and as a positive ‘satisfier’ factor identified by Herzberg.

Many people have a thirst for knowledge and skills development in an area that interests them; this might be getting to know more about plants and how to maintain them in optimum condition in different soil types, through changing weather conditions and climate change, or it might be to better understand human psychology so as to improve the way customer service is delivered.

Technological changes have been considerable: For example, the development of computer games, from the simple ping-pong tennis game in the early 1970s that was plugged into a television, to specific hand-held devices or apps deployed on smart phones have been quite phenomenal.

The need to practice and continuously develop and improve on your skills has been essential to enable you to engage with these games. Without learning new skills, often on a gradual and incremental basis, then you would be out of touch not only with this significant area of modern technology but also the social interconnectivity that comes from playing the games.

Why not carry out your own short exercise on the need to keep up to date with your skill?

The need to continually develop your skills: Exercise

The aim of this exercise is to get you to think about how some things have changed over the past 20-25 years; they might be very specific or quite general, it doesn’t matter. It is important that a medium to longer-term timescale is used to really emphasise the degree of change that often takes place.

There is no right or wrong answer to this exercise, the aim is to get you thinking and learning. It will also provide you with a useful insight into adapting to change and will give you something to relate to, if you wish, when you are in a job interview situation.

Consider what was available then, compared to now; how it was typically carried out compared with how it’s carried out now. You might like to use 1990 to 1995 as the early date to compare with the present date. Some ideas that could be considered include:

1. The use of computers in the work place;
2. Paying for goods in shops;
3. A typical working week; or a typical working week in an occupation you are interested in;
4. Electronic home entertainment devices;
5. The ethnic make-up of your neighbourhood, county or country;
6. The income tax regime;
7. Gambling on football matches;
8. Availability and range of education and training courses;
9. Public transport in your area;
10. Design and performance of cars;
11. Fashion (focussing on clothes, shoes, hairstyle or accessories)
12. Film genres and awards.

Look at one area in detail and try to spending no more than 1-hour on it and summarise your findings. You might do this as a pure thought exercise whilst relaxing somewhere, or even put pen to paper.

This exercise will help you to compare and contrast on a topic of interest and will help you to provide a specific example in an interview situation of the need to continually improve to adapt to change; this is essential for businesses to stay competitive and to stay in business.

Within your summary you will want to identify how your chosen topic has impacted (negatively and positively) on you.

If it hasn’t had any impact, then think about how it might have impacted on people in general. You might also decide that it is more helpful to select a certain part of the population in providing a framed or contextualized focus to your answer. Either way, active reflection is a great way to keep your brain cells ticking over.

Chris Gray, 26th May 2019