Last week we took part in a Learning at Work Week (LAWW) event with Disney staff. We’re well aware that it can be really difficult to find time to learn, as well as work. You probably have a host of other commitments, commuting eats into your time and day to day responsibilities are pressing. You may feel you should be doing ‘real’ work and learning may not seem to be a priority.
Two years ago consulting firm CBRE suggested an estimated 50% of jobs would be redundant by 2025 due to technological innovation. Ongoing education and skill development are essential in an environment of economic uncertainty and disruptive technologies. At 10Eighty we firmly believe that continuous learning should be a priority for everyone, the fast pace of technological change and the imperative for creativity and innovation in the workplace make the issue of learning and development a serious matter if you want to keep your career on track.
Aim to learn everything you can at work, as well as investing your own time and commitment to funds to subjects that interest you. Take up offers of training, work with a mentor, volunteer for projects, ask for secondments or shadowing assignments, learn what your co-workers do, and learn how the various parts of the organisation contribute to the end-product. Demonstrate your commitment, willingness to learn and your interest in self-improvement. Review your career regularly, if you find that you haven’t learned anything new at work in the last 18 months you should probably be seeking a new role that will challenge you and enable you to expand your skillset.
Invest in yourself
It’s a question of investment in yourself and your onward progress and development. You may want to undertake a course of study for a specific reason, such as promotion or career change; or, you may pursue learning to broaden your horizons and satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Set yourself a goal, whether it’s a qualification, or a smaller more manageable goal of mastering a new skill or tackling a new subject.
I’m inclined to think that studying anything at all is good for you. In almost any line of work, a term or two spent studying book-keeping or accounting will stand you in good stead. You may never have to balance the books but the knowledge you gain will give you a real insight into the nuts and bolts of business. Commercial awareness and a good grasp of financial basics are invaluable whether you are a creator, a salesperson or a service provider; of course, if you work in accounts it’s probably worth considering a marketing or communications course. A good grounding gives you the basis on which to build success in your chosen career path.
You may choose to unlock your potential by learning something unrelated to your ‘day’ job. The very act of applying yourself to your study goal is a means to leveraging your motivation and working towards the best you can be. Learning to play guitar, studying archaeology, undertaking a language course or an art class could be fun, frustrating, relaxing or enlightening but as you learn you will open new perspectives on your life and the choices you make. The chances are that, whatever you study, you will learn things about yourself that contribute to your personal development and enhance your performance at work as well as in other areas.
Learning is good for you
Add to that the massive bonus that learning is good for your health – reading reduces stress levels, learning offsets cognitive decline and improves memory function. The habit of learning, of being interested in the world around you, indulging your curiosity and maintaining an open-minded attitude to new ideas and ways of doing things will all enhance your creativity, agility and employability.
Focus on self-investment and find or make the time to learn. Whether you want a qualification or to explore the world it has never been easier to source learning materials. Books, online courses, MOOCs, professional development programs, podcasts, and online resources are often free and accessible at all hours, so you can schedule learning opportunities into the busiest of days in a way that suits you. You can learn almost anything via YouTube and TEDTalks will inform you about an astonishing range of topics and specialist subjects.
Share and enjoy
An important things to remember about learning at work is the value of knowledge sharing. Try to encourage others to learn at work as well. You could do a presentation to your peers about what you’ve learnt, or share your own advice on continuous learning.
Expand your horizons by networking in order to learn more about your industry and competitors and share your own insights with colleagues and peers. Make a commitment to contact others who work in your sector, for a competitor, and meet to share market intelligence and industry knowledge. It’s all part of building your brand as an employee who is serious about improvement and progress. If you are ambitious it’s important to be seen to be making the most of your opportunities, sharing your expertise and exploring new avenues.
Learning is important in the face of changing ideas and new innovations if you want to be in the forefront of organisational change. You can’t rely on what you already know, the workplace is changing and long-term stability is rare, you may need to switch to a new field, so upgrading your skills is imperative in adjusting to new situations. An enlightened employer will help staff with continuous learning but you may have to rely on your own resources and take responsibility for your learning.
Education is not something that ends when you leave college it’s an ongoing adventure.