Why It’s Important To Keep Developing Your Professional Skills (And Why Company Training Is Not Enough)


    In today’s workplace, the only thing that remains constant is change. The pace of change, whether in business or technology, has been more relentless than ever and is now considered the new normal in society.

    Changes may come in the form of a new cloud system, shifting preferences in customer demand, the passage of a new legislation or new directions issued by the CEO.

    With this reality, it has become imperative, more than ever, for both young and seasoned professionals to actively chart their own career growth.

    Let’s learn more about the importance of skills upgrading in order to remain relevant in today’s workplace.

    The Benefits Of Continuing Professional Development

    Continuing professional development (CPD) refers to the structured, proactive and practical process of enhancing one’s knowledge and skills to gain a competitive advantage in one’s profession. CPD also involves the development of the individual’s personal qualities essential in the performance of his or her professional duties.

    A CPD programme allows you to:

    1. Review and update your professional knowledge and skills
    2. Track and assess your achievements
    3. Reassess your career goals
    4. Identify gaps in your skills and capabilities
    5. Enhance the quality of your professional service
    6. Assume new positions where you can lead, manage, influence, coach and mentor others
    7. Advance the body of knowledge and technology within your field
    8. Apply best practices and methodologies to real work scenarios or projects from anywhere in the world
    9. Command a higher pay and better compensation

    Questions To Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your Skills

    Here are some points to consider before launching a skills development plan:

    Where am I now?

    Make an honest inventory of your current skill set. Evaluate your behavioural and technical competencies. What gaps can you address?

    Look at past performance reviews, recall learning experiences or talk to your manager, colleagues or HR specialist. You can also seek advice from people whose skills or performance you wish to emulate. Then, launch a plan of action.

    Where do I want to be?

    Check out the job market. Assess yourself if you possess the current skills and competencies needed in similar positions or in higher posts that you are aspiring for.

    Then, write down your long-term career goals: where do you want to be in two, five and ten years’ time.

    What do I have to do to get there?

    Write down three specific short-term goals that you plan to attain in pursuit of your long-term goals.

    You can discuss with your manager the possibility of being assigned a new task or you can recommend a digital marketing course that can address the gap in your skill set. It may also mean receiving mentoring or arranging for work shadowing.

    When should I review progress?

    Periodically assess your performance. You may evaluate your progress once every three, six or twelve months. Log your thoughts in a diary.

    Strategies To Reinvent Your Career

    How relevant will our present jobs be ten or twenty years from now? Here are some tips to keep our skills and competencies up-to-date in these ever-changing times:

    1. Develop a five year learning plan to acquire strategic skills, knowledge and education.
    2. Keep abreast of the latest trends in your industry by reading professional publications, attending industry events, conferences and workshops, accessing webinars, e-newsletters and online forums.
    3. Keep your technical skills up-to-date even if new methods don’t seem directly applicable to your current job. It’s better to be equipped early so you can easily adapt to market changes.
    4. Transferrable skills such as leadership, handling conflicts, leading group meetings, effective presentations and stress management are always sought after by any employer.
    5. Keep an inventory of your work accomplishments, trainings and commendations. Employers want to know what you can offer them.
    6. Develop a network of relationships within and outside your organisation. Keep track of former superiors and colleagues. Join professional associations in your industry.
    7. Try to find employment in a firm that puts emphasis on staff training, skills development and leadership courses.
    8. Choose to work in industries and companies that have a proven track record of  long-term sustainability.
    9. Find opportunities to collaborate with people from diverse cultures and nationalities. Seek assignments that require international exposure (e.g. overseas training, audience surveying) or learn a new language.

    With constant awareness and careful planning, you can navigate your career path and capitalise on opportunities amidst changes in the global marketplace. The secret lies not so much in anticipating shifts in the job market but how perceptive you are to the early indications of change.

    Adopting a continuous learning mindset will extend your career longevity, manage any risks and enhance your employability.

    On a macro level, a well mapped out CPD programme will ultimately benefit not only the professional and the company but also, the community and society.

    Looking to acquire strategic skills and capitalise on emerging career opportunities? Check out Kaplan’s full-time and part-time Diploma programmes.

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