We are in a world that changes everyday, and the same goes for skills.
As a young graduate, Moureen Komuhangi, 42, secured a job as typesetter in a media company in the late 90s. However, by 2000 she had to upgrade into a new area after the arrival of computers around the same time.
She had used a typewriter, which although it has some similarities to the computer, was being phased out.
New skills, according to Rachael Tusiime, a human resource manager at Waka Fitness and Health Club, are a requirement in a market that is driven by technology and innovations.
The skills, she says, help you to fit in and stay relevant, especially when there is a total change in a working environment.
“Self-evaluate yourself and see whether you require the skills or qualifications that you need to pursue. But even then they might be for future use. You do not have to wait until you get employed and then start upgrading,” she says.
Upgrading can be based on anything. It might be a new job requirement or a targeted virtue that one holds within them.
Andrew Kizito, a student at Tiner School of Beauty, says he thought it right to add a vocational course to his Hotel and Hospitality degree.
“There was an opportunity for me to work at a beauty spa but I did not have the skills. I knew it would not hurt adding that skill, which definitely comes with better rewards. So, I found a passion, I followed it,” he says.
Whereas Kizito was reacting to a job opportunity, some people according to Felix Biteetsigirwe, the head of careers, information, advice and guidance at Rainbow International School, just upgrade for the sake of it when an opportunity presents itself.
“Usually, the pull factor [for upgrading] is to better one’s standard of living promised in better job offers and such other prospects,” he says.
Other people, Biteetsigirwe adds, only realise that they need to upgrade after they have reached a turning point and their new prospects can only be realised through training in a totally different or related field.
“For example, one who wants to move from being an accounts clerk to a full accountant might find themselves in need of ACCA or something related to that,” he says.
However, new demands such as rapid improvement in technology have been a key driver that has propelled people to seek new skills.
For instance, according to Biteetsigirwe, some people have lost careers because of technological upgrades that render them irrelevant.
“It is common for one to re-train in a completely new area. For instance, type-writer technicians had to re-train as computer technicians after typewriters were phased out,” he says.
Adopting to new demands
However, the changes in the job market have forced high institutions of learning to adopt different measures that can ably equip students with universally accepted skills.
For instance, it is rare to find a student nowadays who cannot operate a computer.
This has been ensured through long term plans that require different stakeholders to implement strategic plans especially that are adopted from government and multi-national agencies.
Upgrading, according to Biteetsigirwe gives you more intangible value that you can sufficiently use to get elevated.
It also builds a certain form of self-fulfillment, which by itself is enough to spur growth in one’s career.
Apart from class studies, it is possible for one to upgrade through taking on volunteer roles, according to Paul McDonald, the senior executive director at Robert Haft, a staffing firm.
McDonald says, hands-on practice is the best way to learn and employees are encouraged to take on volunteer roles, especially those that are outside their scope of work.
“Is your company investing in a new field you are passionate about? Ask to be one of the volunteers. It is a simple way to get both learning and experience,” he says.