In the immortal words of legendary jazz singer, Nina Simone, “it´s a new dawn, it´s a new day, it´s a new life” and there certainly is reason to feel good in 2013. Especially if you´re thinking of furthering your education.
Whether you are new to the job market, new to the workplace, or already part of the office furniture, your success hinges on your demonstrated ability to apply your skills and experience in the workplace. This is how you will set yourself apart in a market teeming with hungry competitors.
Learning is your way in and it is through learning that you will work your way up.
Research shows that the lifetime earnings of educated individuals in developed countries are between three and five times more than those of people with no education. What´s more, in developing countries, this ratio in favour of the educated can be as much as 1:30. This relates not only to actual earnings but also to the continued potential to increase earnings through promotion and recruitment.
It clearly pays to get a qualification and embracing a philosophy of lifelong learning will propel you to the next level.
Nevertheless, merely having a piece of paper is not enough. You need to be skilled (able to do the work), experienced (familiar with the work – having done it before) and competent (able to do the work well) in addition to being qualified (learned in a particular field through a recognised institution like Regenesys).
Regardless of an individual´s current career status, there is always room for improvement and growth to advance to the next level and prevent stagnation. Lack of opportunities for career advancement is often a signal that it is time to further ones education and improve skills. Upskilling means learning new skills to maintain the competitive edge in the workplace. Whether a student is a recent matriculant or currently in the job market, education has been found to increase self-confidence, improve moral, as well as open the door to endless opportunities.
If knowledge is power, then the world had better prepare itself for a radical redistribution of clout.
How to create a skills matrix
So, if you´re raring to go but find yourself overwhelmed by the seemingly countless options available to you, the best place to start is with creating your own skills matrix. Write down any skills you have as well as any that you feel you need to advance your career. Next to this list, draw up four columns: qualified, skilled, experienced and competent. For each skill, check the columns that are true of you. If you perform this task honestly, it will show you where the gaps are in your skills set and will enable you to decide whether more experience or further education is what you need.
Consider the following tips for how to improve your career prospects in the areas identified in your skills matrix:
How to build skill
- Offer to take on work in which you can exercise this skill.
- Complete a private assignment that involves this type of work in your spare time.
- Volunteer your services at a charity or other public benefit organisation where you can add value through this skill.
How to get experience
- Take every opportunity to complete relevant projects and become involved in appropriate initiatives. Be sure to document all of this. Don´t ever claim to have experience that you do not have – it always comes back to haunt you in the end.
How to gain competence
- Become organised and make sure that you really know what you are doing in the area in question. The systematic accumulation of experience and study is the only way to get there. Learning to organise yourself is one of the most valuable skills that you can ever build. By constantly increasing your exposure to key areas, you will steadily build competence in your daily delivery. Every opportunity to get and give feedback should be used effectively.
How to obtain a qualification
- Find a recognised institution that offers training in the skills area you have selected. Select a specific skills course or a qualification into which this skills area is incorporated – some institutions like Regenesys will allow you to complete it as a module independent of the full qualification.
- Whichever option you choose, make sure that it is recognised and aligned with the relevant qualification authorities.
- Get to work completing your qualification!
You are fortunate to be in or entering the workplace at this exciting time. Grab the opportunity with both hands and watch your career soar to ever greater heights. Watch this space for more exciting innovations in education and next week´s newsletter, where we will explore the amazing opportunities available for tertiary study in 2013 and the best advice for how to take advantage of them.