How to stay relevant in your career through continuous learning

You’ve heard it before, but it’s never been more important than now. A single degree or diploma achieved after matric is not enough to prepare you on how to stay relevant in your career, where new technologies are automating skills previously done manually.

Whether it’s reading, studying, analysing past performances or implementing new systems, a process of continuous learning, says Mark Collett, Derivco’s Head of Learning and Development. It needs to be in your planning diary from the time you begin tertiary studies and continue into working life.

“When new technologies are brought into the workplace, employees are often let go as their skill is no longer needed, or staff are replaced with someone who has updated skills. However, a process of continuous learning can help employees stay up to date with new trends,” says Mark.

ICT skills shortage

Continuous learning would also help plug a dire need for skilled professionals. According to the latest 2019 Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Skills Survey in SA, an estimated 50 000 more ICT practitioners are needed in the short to medium term to address the skills shortage in the country. The majority of the workforce is required to be up-skilled to use technology that will impact on their industries.

“We face a critical skills shortage in the country. As a result in the tech industry, there is a limited number of people who have the skills to carry out the work that is needed. The only option we believe in is continuous learning by all staff,” says Mark.

“Companies around the world require people who are able to adapt to new ways of doing things as their respective industries change. As an example, the subject matter you start learning in the first year as a university or technikon student could be obsolete by the time you graduate in three to four years’ time. That’s why students, or those starting off their professional careers, need to continuously learn and skill themselves,” says Mark.

The five-hour rule

To stay ahead of the curve, practice what’s called the “five-hour rule”. Dedicate five hours in the week to learn.

“This is something every person needs to implement. You set aside time to learn, or read, or reflect and analyse. Your studies can be about any subject. They do not necessarily have to relate to the field you are in. New ways of doing things or understanding how things work, helps you look at problems differently. It builds critical thinking for you to be able to grow and contribute more in your position,” says Mark.

How to stay relevant in your career

A personal development plan is a useful tool to help identify suitable subject matter on how to stay relevant in your career.

“At Derivco, a culture of continuous learning is underlined by the commitment we make to our people. We believe that people are on a long-term journey with us, and this is supported by a culture of continuous learning. This is how you will learn and acquire new skills for the changing industry we operate in. Our people have access to free courses from several suppliers, to up-skill themselves in line with their career paths,” says Mark.

As a learning organisation, we’re all about continuous improvement. We want our people to learn new ways on how to stay relevant in their careers. After all, if you get just 1% better every day, just imagine where you’ll be by the time you’re done! If you want to take your own growth and development to the next level, and want to be part of an organisation that values constant learning, then have a look at our current vacancies here!