Are online courses a waste of time?

Friday May 22 2020

I have been keeping myself engaged by taking relevant online courses. However, I am uncertain about certain things. Do employers recognise certificates from online courses as important work qualifications? And now that I have acquired new skills, should I ask for a promotion so that I can put my new knowledge to better use and be more productive?

Personal development does not necessarily lead to a promotion. However, it will make you more skilled, and equip you with fresh knowledge, which might be helpful in executing your responsibilities, thereby increasing your output. Self-development may also offer you some degree of satisfaction and could boost your confidence.
Online courses are recognised by employers. However, for this training to be of value, it must bridge a gap that you and your supervisors had already identified during performance reviews.

If the initiative to enrol for the course came from you, your employer might commend you, but he may not automatically reward you with a promotion.
Beware that acquisition of new skills does not always lead to increased productivity. There are many highly skilled employees who are unable to achieve or surpass their goals and set objectives.
There is this deceptive perception that when an employee acquires an additional certificate, be it an additional undergraduate degree, a master’s course or a particular training programme, the employer is obliged to promote them, give them a new role or review their salary. This is not always the case. Your boss can instead choose to enrich your current role by adding more responsibilities, and this could eventually lead to a promotion.

During this economic crisis occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, you shouldn’t expect a promotion at this time.
Note that taking an online course or learning a new skill during your free time can enable you create a side hustle. You will not stay employed all your life, and the side job might be your fall back plan.
Please be encouraged that even if your boss doesn’t recognise the certificate now, the knowledge you acquired is valuable, and it might come in handy in future.
It will definitely give you competitive advantage at your next job interview. Therefore, go forth and get it. It will be well worth it.

Jane Muiruri
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group