Learning New Skills?

Where you can find the training to increase your value A few weeks ago, Rathin Sinha, President of AJE, posted about Coping with the Downturn, and some strategies for people who are interested in raising their value at work to help them keep their job. The first item on that list was to Learn New Skills, and I felt like that item warranted a post of its own. So how do you learn the new skills that will help you increase your value? The obvious solution is going out and taking a class somewhere. In good times, many companies will offer to pay for all or part of classes that teach skills directly related to your job. However, in a recession like this one, programs like that are often the first to go. And many people facing salary cuts or potential lay-offs don’t necessarily want to pay for those classes out of pocket, even at a community college where courses are relatively inexpensive. I know I wouldn’t.

So where do you turn in a recession to learn new skills and ultimately increase your value? The answer is simple: the workplace. Many people forget that the workplace is a great place to learn new skills. Chances are good that one of your co-workers already has the skills that you’re looking to learn. And in a depressed economy, chances are good that they need help, because everyone is overworked. Offer to take up some of the simple tasks related to a certain skill, as long as they will teach you how to do them! Want to learn web coding? Formatting the text of websites is fairly easy to do, but takes a lot of time. Your web coders would probably love to have someone take that off their plate. You can also volunteer to help out with new projects. Is your company opening a new division that you’re interested in? Offer part of your time to help make sure that the new division is successful.

The great thing about learning on the job is that it’s trial by fire: you have to learn the skill, because you’re applying it in a real world situation. And I don’t think that there’s a better way to learn. If there isn’t anyone in your company who knows how to do what you want to do, you can always go out and start a project on your own. The Internet is full of information about every subject imaginable. You can also head over the bookstore. Want to learn about social media? Start and promote your own blog. Start landscaping your lawn if you’re interested in landscaping, and offer to work on your neighbor’s lawns. Who knows? Maybe your little learning project will transform into something more. And if not, then you’ve learned something new, something that you’ll be able to carry with you throughout your career.

Does anyone have any stories about unorthodox or unique ways that they’ve learned new skills on the job? Let me know in the comments section! Also, check out our Education Center if you’re interested in finding formal classes to learn a new skill set.

One thought on “Learning New Skills?

  1. I find that the way I learn best is by talking to people. At my latest job, I have a number of co-workers I can turn to learn from. I try to ask questions, even if I think they are silly and then after a while, I start to think the way they do. I’m a graphic designer, and the first website I ever designed, I had no idea what I was doing, so I used to work late and sit with our programmers and they explained why things had to be certain pixel sizes and what was easy to change and what wasn’t once it was coded. I never thought that I could learn so much with a few extra hours at the office, but it really paid off! The programming team was happier with the work the design team was producing, and I stepped into a roll managing the design team. Nothing went to production that I hadn’t worked on first. I think the advantage to learning from co-workers is it gives cohesion to your team or group, which is great!

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