Why You Need to Train Yourself to be as Good as the Great

Oct 20, 2016

Today’s graduate must take responsibility over their own training and become world-class in his or her own field.

Whatever job you may be in, you cannot rely on your employer for personal development. Yes, your company may have a budget to train you or send you on short courses to help you get better at your job, but what good is that training if you don’t understand how to apply it to your job?

Hence, it is really down to you to take ownership over what happens with what you learn. The real learning and training isn’t that which happens off the job, but on it.

The need to become world-class

Aside from that, you need to develop yourself to become as good as the great due to the rise of the global marketplace. Every time you apply for a job, you are going up against the best in the world. You’re up against those in developed economies – and in weaker economies, too. They’re the people now answering your banking queries when you call up with a problem.

In his book, Talent is Overrated, Geoffrey Colvin gives an example of a London firm that is reported to have flown in a team of auditors from Asia to audit their books. They did this because it was cheaper than hiring auditors from London, even with the cost of putting up the overseas team in a hotel for three weeks and then flying them back.

“The result is that a fast-growing number of workers everywhere have to be just as good – and just as good a value – as the very best workers in their field anywhere on earth,” he writes. It brings new meaning and relevance to the word “world-class”, he says. It doesn’t take much stretch of the imagination to see that the cost of being anything less than world-class is high, as are the rewards.

Competition doesn’t stop here

Competition comes from elsewhere too, because employers have a central driving concern to recruit graduates who will meet evolving business needs, wherever they may find them. So we also see a blurring of lines between graduate and non-graduate recruitment where many employers are also choosing to recruit able young people who have chosen not to go to university, or to take on apprentices. Graduates don’t just compete with other graduates. There is also greater interest in diversity and social mobility among graduate employers so you are competing against the skills of an ever-widening group of people around you.


Jobs and skills, they come and go

In the week beginning 18 January 2016, Peter Clark, the last eel fisherman in Britain, finally hung up his basket, and quit his job. Eel fishing had come to an end after years of decline in the trade. The taste for eels had finally died, bringing to end what Peter’s family had done for 500 years, and others for at least three millennia.

His job, as the story is reported in the Daily Mirror, is one of a growing number of occupations we no longer need. Others listed in the article included gas lamplighters who were once responsible for lighting street lamps; compositors, the hi-techs of their day who could speedily arrange lines of typeset to print newspapers; and resurrectionists, employed to steal corpses from their graves for scientific experiments. Some bizarre and long-ago-dead examples for sure but like these, jobs come and jobs.

More recently, we’ve seen fewer and fewer jobs for printing workers, desktop publishers, insurance underwriters and flight attendants. Other jobs on the decline include florists (simply due to less demand for flower arrangements), travel agents (due to growth in online booking) and even reporters and broadcast journalists (fuelled by a decline in advertising revenue). At the same time, we’ve seen many new types of jobs being created, such as social media strategists, SEO consultants and app developers.

So, you simply must take responsibility to develop yourself to be as good as the great. Your job may go someday too, but with your skills future-proofed you will be easily able and prepared to go where they are demanded.

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