Training, Upskilling, CPD and Your Career

By Gemma Creagh - Last update

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The future of work demands individuals who can multitask, who can adapt quickly to the ever-changing business environment, and those who have multiple skill sets to adapt to a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why training, upskilling, CPD and your career trajectory are very much linked.

Training, Upskilling, CPD and Your Career

The pandemic has led to crippling job losses, both in Ireland and globally, with millions of workers finding their career plans in chaos. As we face into an uncertain future, with a long period of economic rebuilding, it is apparent that there will be lasting changes from this crisis, and that some things will never quite be the same again. For work, and skills for work and developing your career, never has agility in knowledge and skills been more important, professionals need to assert their value through being multi-functional and seeking to consistently expand their skillsets. No longer can we perform the same tasks at the same company, in the same way for years on end. 

Technology obviously has a huge role to play in how the future of work will look like.  Just like email dispensed with so many postal jobs over recent decades, already many restaurants are deploying Robots to serve customers in a social-distanced world, more and more jobs will likely gradually be replaced by similar technological advancement. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), an estimated 75 million jobs may be disrupted by machines and automation in the next five years. But the good news is that the ones building and operating this new technology are of course humans. Old jobs will be phased out, but they will give way to newer opportunities. Upskilling is vital not only to stay on top of your current job, but also to remain being valuable throughout the various stages of your tenure in the company and in terms of how you position yourself for your next career move.

CPD or Continuous Professional Development is the broad term used to describe learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities throughout their career. While training and development is part of the remit of many organisations in terms of how they manage their workforce, CPD also places individual responsibility on people to ‘own’ their career and their learning trajectory.Let’s look at some of the various methods of CPD and how they can impact your career.

At the organisational level 

Many organizations have been investing heavily into a robust Learning & Development culture.  At a major global tech company, an employee is encouraged to spend up to 10% of their time upping their skills either through in-house learning sessions, shadowing other colleagues, or by taking up courses of their own. They also fund a higher-education for employees who wish to take a break to go for a master’s course and re-join the company. Similarly, many other companies regularly undertake various training and skilling programs too to keep their employees ready for newer challenges. For example, if you’re an associate or a team lead, a systemic and hands-on course in programme management can gear you up for a managerial position in the organisation. Similarly, corporates can also roll out programmes that seek to equip employees with a more holistic training such as being better communicators or presenters, crisis management or how to deal with setbacks. This training is particularly relevant for employees that may be good at technical skills but have a deficit when it comes to inter-personal or soft skills.

 At the individual level

Adding complementary skills: Learning skills that are close to your current job description, yet provide you with something definable and different can multiply the overall benefits. For example, even if your core job is working with in digital marking with ads on a particular platform, you can invest some time in training in Google and Bing ads including search, display and mobile and earn the respective certifications. From an expert on one platform, you can go on to becoming a full-stack search engine marketing specialist. Similarly, if you’re a graphic designer who’s already creating great content, draw on your inherent creativity and segue into video or audio production, tools that can take you closer to being a creative director.

Taking up online courses: Learning is something that you simply have to do, and from five figure MBA programmes to free online courses, there is something out there that you can do which will either change your career or add to your skillset to some degree. One side-benefit of the current crisis from this perspective is that it has renewed focus on learning and recognition of online courses.  From something as small as learning how to use an Excel function like V-lookup, to doing a MOOC like Data Science, online learning platforms like Coursera, or etc. have opened up new opportunities like never before. Ranging from free to reasonable fees, these courses can last as long as an hour, a week, a month or longer. This may be the period of your career where you have that elusive ‘time’ that you never seemed to have before.

Learning new tools to improve efficiency /productivity: Upskilling doesn’t always have to be in the form of learning new skills or doing courses entirely. It can be as simple as learning new tools and new technology to perform your current job better and faster. For example, if you’ve been manually managing your emails and productivity levels, you can get familiar with productivity apps like Slack and Trello. Lean organisations demand employees that are fast, efficient and can do the required task better and in less time than the alternative. It’s also a way more enjoyable and efficient way of working.

Reading: It sounds obvious, possible even old fashioned, but consistent reading in certain areas is a great way to develop your knowledge of a topic and your ability to interact socially around that topic. More knowledge can be used as insights at future meetings or brainstorms, to help you make better decisions or model a course of action.

Webinars and Conferences: Attending industry level events and conferences can be an enriching and interactive crowd-sourced method of learning from industry experts and counterparts from the same field. They can also be incredibly frustrating if you don’t have a plan for why you’re there, what you want to learn or who you want to meet. Seek out opportunities – both at the corporate and at an individual level – to attend such events and develop a plan for them. If nothing else, they can serve as an opportunity to network and build connections that can come in handy in the long run. With the road to economic recovery likely to indeed be a long run, CPD can help provide you with the tools you need to pick up the pace or change direction in your career.


Gemma Creagh

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