Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”
The way we do business has changed. We have faced one of the worst global recessions ever. Millions have become unemployed and in the face of stiff competition, and changing markets, ALL businesses have had to reassess their position, tighten expenditure, justify or reorganize staff complements, reformulate strategies and internal systems and reposition themselves for survival in the rapids of change.
In South Africa specifically, we have the following alarming trends:
- Population growth in South Africa is among the highest in Africa.
- Mechanization of the economy is developing rapidly due to dramatic wage increases, labour unrest, strikes and shortage of skilled labour
- There is a large proportion of the population who have no career qualifications or skills
- More than 1000 job seekers who cannot find work enter the labour market every day
- 6% of the potential workforce is unemployed compared to 2.6% in Japan
- We have an enormously oversupplied basic labour market with huge brain drain as skilled people leave our country in droves
In South Africa an adult spends between 1500 and 2000 hours per year at work. For most adults work forms an important way in which we construct meaning for ourselves. However, new career patterns are developing and in the future it is likely that people:
- will change jobs often
- will have periods out of work, in retraining or education
- may have two jobs at the same time
- may have varied working hours
- will have to adapt to new inventions and discoveries
- might need to become self employed and develop entrepreneurial skills
Some of the vital skills that will be required to successfully meet these changes are:
- A solid work ethic,
- Critical thinking
- Creativity and innovation
- Developing entrepreneurial skills
- To engage in Lifelong learning
Lifelong learning has become a necessity and not an option. The notion that twelve
years of formal education during one’s youth being the foundation and the preparation necessary for earning a living is an idea and practice that has outlived it’s time. The burning of one’s books on the last day of school used to symbolise the end of the ‘learning period’ during one’s life, a concept that has rapidly changed.
The very foundation of our continued existence, both economically and practically, is dependent on a culture of accepting the need to constantly upgrade ones skills, keep up with advancing technology and being aware of changes in the business world that is making so many occupations obsolete.
The wise person will avail themselves of courses, will seek learning opportunities, will listen to others, and seek to enlarge their experiences, both on and off the job.
At one’s place of work there are many opportunities for self-directed learning. Many have learnt that they can climb the ladder of success by learning other people’s jobs. At a business conference in Johannesburg, one successful business woman revealed that there are always people who are too lazy to do their jobs and happy to have a helping hand. Being willing to help, meant she could increase her skills on the job and move up the ladder. She metaphorically climbed up the ladder on the backs of lazy people to become more knowledgeable and develop her talents with a view to becoming indispensable to the company for which she worked.
“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste. “
The good news is that it is never too late to learn. The brain is able to continually take in knowledge and accumulate facts well into old age. It is either adopt and embrace the concepts of lifelong education and self-directed learning or be left behind in a time warp which will impact on one’s quality of life, one’s employability and even one’s future.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. “