Keeping Your Professional Skills Current…Or Else
My gosh there are a lot of people out of work right now and many of them are looking forward to taking your job right out from under you. Not a very pleasant thought when you take a moment to think about it. However, the reality is that many displaced workers are doing a better job getting their professional skills current than most people who are still employed. Community colleges and other institutions of higher learning are experiencing some of the highest levels of new entrance applications from returning students than ever before. This seems to be a double edge sword; while it benefits the returning students it can have negative consequences for others.
If you are a young professional fresh out of school and entering the work force, you have some stiff competition from displaced workers that have more business experience and who have also recently updated their professional skills. If you were lucky enough to have kept your job through the downturn, you have competition from displaced workers who will do your job for less money and took some of the unemployment downtime to update their professional skill sets. It is a tough world right now for both those currently seeking and those who have secured employment.
It is critical that we do not allow our skills to become out-of-date. Working professionals must continue their education throughout their adult life, even if that means taking a class a semester at a community college, attending vendor training, or setting up a “home lab” and buying a book or two. Professionals must stay competitive in the job market. In the IT world, there are hundreds of service companies regularly calling department heads and proselytizing the benefits of outsourcing various positions for considerably less money than they are paying internal employees.
As a professional, you must provide your boss some great reasons not to listen to these calls by keeping your skill set growing and delivering more value than an outsourced company can provide. This is advice that I have taken to heart, and to that end, I have returned to school. I want to be at the head of the pack so it is my responsibility to keep my professional skills in-line with the current job market demands. This is not the responsibility of my employer. Unfortunately too many people get sucked into thinking that their employer should be reasonable for keeping their skills current by providing training. This is a trap that should be avoided. My career, My responsibility.