Sanlam shares advice from a recruitment expert on how to tackle this intimidating task.
Why upskill? A look at the landscape
The Critical Skills Survey released by immigration specialists Xpatweb in late 2019, revealed that numerous sectors in the South African economy are suffering from a severe skills shortage, which can be attributed to a rise in emigration. Among the professions is a deficit were engineers, ICT specialists, foreign language speakers, mining and financial executives, artisans and health workers. On the flip side, a Q3 2019 unemployment rate of 29% was reported by Statistics South Africa, demonstrating a gap between available roles and the people equipped to fill them.
Upskilling: no longer optional
“Upskilling is a constant and important activity, especially in this fast-paced, technology-led business world,” says Anita Hoole, managing director at specialist recruitment agency Dynexity. “The younger generation might just have the hidden advantage, as they are more creative and innovative, and are able to make a difference in the workplace with ideas that the rest may not have thought of.”
Hoole uses the example of conveniently sending voice notes over WhatsApp versus the ‘old-fashioned’ standard of leaving a voicemail: if you’re still primarily using voicemail, “the impression you give to clients you deal with is that you are from the ‘old school’ and are not technology-wise and up-to-date; you may not be considered the right employee or business partner fit,” she cautions.
Know how you need to upskill
“Every profession has areas that you should get stuck into, and additional skills linked to the relevant technologies for you to learn,” Hoole adds. It’s up to you to do the homework: subscribe to newsletters, attend meet-ups for valuable networking opportunities, follow business blogs and apply a curious mind to changes around you. Curiosity embraces opportunities, while fear repels them.
Take the accounting sector, for example. “Ensure that you are familiar with the latest version of software such as Microsoft Excel,” suggests Hoole. “Gain experience in cloud-based accounting packages.” With an abundance of online offerings, you have the opportunity to trial services suited to your profession for free for up to a month.
Across professions, having French or Portuguese in your language arsenal will add appeal to your profile for businesses branching out into Africa.
Take the leap into a new job market
If you’ve discovered opportunities in other fields that’ll allow you to boost your earnings, Hoole shares possible routes to a fuller skill set (and bank account):
1. Upskill where you are
“The best way to change your profession is to do it with your current employer by letting them know you would like to change the direction of your career,” says Hoole. Initiate the process by obtaining the relevant qualification for your desired profession in your own time. Start a conversation with your line manager to find out whether the company would be prepared to add more responsibilities suited to your desired line of work.
Unsure about how to tackle this conversation? Take a look at https://www.sanlamreality.co.za/wealth-sense/negotiate-for-what-you-want/ for some tips to help you get what you want at work. “If an employer knows your work ethic and performance, they should be willing to accommodate and support you in moving you into your chosen field,” adds Hoole.
When it comes to financing your new upskilling goals, remember that Reality Core, Plus and Health members enjoy up to 20% cash-back on a Sanlam Personal Loan.
2. Back to basics: Start from the bottom
You may want to explore a totally different field of expertise, which could mean uprooting yourself in your current role and starting back at block one. You’ll need to decide whether it’s worth sacrificing the time and money to go back to studying towards a new qualification.
This has its upsides: “Your journey could be fast-tracked thanks to experience gained from previous work exposure, for example, management skills,” encourages Hoole. “Employers are likely to appreciate your humbleness about the lack of work experience in your chosen field, and be persuaded to promote you quickly and ahead of others.”
Going back to school? Calculate how much you’ll need to save for fees with this savings calculator https://www.sanlamreality.co.za/wealth-sense/savings-calculator/
Build your case
When you come to the table and bring with you years of experience and training, how you sell yourself is one of the skills in your arsenal that’ll get you noticed. “Build a strong business case for what would potentially be in it for a new employer, and why you should be given this opportunity that you aspire to,” says Hoole.
All those achievements from your current and previous positions? Now’s the time to let them shine. “Highlight how these experiences coupled with the new qualification/s could add value (it has to be financial value) to a new prospective employer,” suggests Hoole. Think along the lines of how you can assist with cost-cutting, increasing revenue and improving processes that’ll impact the bottom line in a noticeable way.
“A lot of CVs only state the obvious – a job description – but seldom highlight achievements, special projects successfully completed, or extraordinary results and contributions to the financial well-being of a company,” notes Hoole.
Let your Personal Assistant benefit, available to Reality Club, Core, Plus and Health members, gather quotes for courses to help you upskill and supercharge your career. Go to:
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Important COVID-19 resources
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