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COLUMN: Learning key to job success

Training and development is an issue that is frequently addressed when discussing human resource management within a firm. Organisations not only understand the importance of developing their employees, but also put great emphasis on it.
While the concept of developing and enhancing knowledge is well embedded in Slovak corporate thinking, it is not so sure that employees are equally keen on enhancing their competence. Nor do employees always consider their development their own responsibility, or make the effort to continually develop themselves.
Evidence that one must constantly and systematically upgrade what one knows and what skills one possesses is readily found in the recruitment advertisements of companies seeking to build good workforces. These ads often offer possibilities for further education to successful candidates.


Comenius University's Luptáková.
photo: Courtesy Stanislava Luptáková

Training and development is an issue that is frequently addressed when discussing human resource management within a firm. Organisations not only understand the importance of developing their employees, but also put great emphasis on it.

While the concept of developing and enhancing knowledge is well embedded in Slovak corporate thinking, it is not so sure that employees are equally keen on enhancing their competence. Nor do employees always consider their development their own responsibility, or make the effort to continually develop themselves.

Evidence that one must constantly and systematically upgrade what one knows and what skills one possesses is readily found in the recruitment advertisements of companies seeking to build good workforces. These ads often offer possibilities for further education to successful candidates.

Moreover, there has recently been an increase in the number of companies claiming they are unable to attract suitable employees even in regions where unemployment is over 20%. There is clearly an imbalance between what companies require of their employees, and what potential candidates can offer.

Whether they are employed or not, people must change their attitudes towards learning, and should bear in mind that they need to play an active role in increasing their knowledge and skills. There are several good reasons for doing so.

If people do not keep learning, the knowledge and information they have will soon become obsolete. As the saying goes, nothing is older than yesterday's news, and this applies even more so for the information we carry in our heads.

Moreover, whenever companies have to react to external pressures, managers tend to place more emphasis on the quality of their workforces, citing flexibility as the key factor in competitiveness. Thus, people need to possess knowledge that enables them to change work assignments and learn new skills.

Learning also enables older employees to keep up with school graduates entering the labour market with heads packed full of theoretical knowledge. What was enough to land somebody a good job five years ago is often considered a standard requirement today. While young graduates may not possess practical experience, their pro-active attitude to learning is what makes companies snap them up as soon as they appear on the market. Rather interestingly, school grades do play a role in job offers. Grades alone may not be a guarantee of future job performance, but they are a sign of people's willingness to study and learn.

The ability to learn is also critical in successfully searching for a good position, or later in winning promotions. It's rather difficult to find a job or earn a promotion with skills that are 15 years out of date. The ability to acquire new knowledge makes people more competitive on any labour market.

Knowledge enhances the marketability of people looking for good jobs. That doesn't mean, of course, that companies don't want to educate their workforces, but rather that firms need workers for whom learning new things is second nature.

And more importantly, the unemployment rate could be cut if people did not expect "somebody" to hand them a job, and instead took a more pro-active role in finding employment. People who are able to offer a top-drawer set of skills always have an advantage.

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