Jobs and Careers - Investing in Career Development

Today the word ‘investment’ seems to be on everybody’s lips in terms of financial input and planning. None of this is possible however without the investment in skills which it takes to produce and service wealth and economic stability, so that an individual’s investment in his or her own skill development or career development is one of the most important investments on both a personal and national level.

Indeed, stock markets may rise and fall, currencies devalue and real estate tumbles, but one’s personal education and development are valuable assets to be highly prized in a world of ups and downs and sudden changes. They are the kind of assets that the fleeing refuge can take with him, the young man or woman can build a life on, and the ambitious and aspiring may use to carve out a successful future. 

One may argue that current worldwide recession has forced many people to change jobs or careers and retrain and has also inflicted redundancy and unemployment on hundreds of thousands. However, although jobs and organizations may disappear, the skills gained through work experience, education and training will remain and can be transferred, upgraded and utilized in different occupations and career fields. 

For example, many an employee who, during the course of his or her work experience developed entrepreneurial skills, has been able to use these same skills to start their own business and create self-employment opportunities when faced with redundancy. Others have been able to build on their skills base, retrain for other fields or work or simply transfer existing skills. 

Careerwise

The term ‘career’ has been defined as “an occupation in which one may remain and advance”, but in its broadest interpretation it encompasses our life’s work and indeed all those skills, experiences and factors which contribute to our growth, progress and fulfillment as human beings. Some people receive their training direct from the ‘great university of life’ and are shaped by the people and circumstances they are exposed to, becoming what is often described as ‘street smart’ or honing their intuitive, entrepreneurial or survival skills.

Some people get into higher education through their scholastic abilities and go on the achieve degrees and enter professions through tertiary level training. Some get a lucky break and find the job in the right industry soon after leaving school. Others discover through trial and error what their personal vocational aptitudes and abilities are, or may as they mature or are exposed to different work experiences, find what they want out of life and their career. 

Quite a few people become frustrated or lost, go in and out of jobs without any satisfaction, simply don’t know what they want to do and, finding no reason to be committed, drop out or drift. No matter what path the individual takes however, he or she is investing precious time and potential. The benefits of his investment however, will be determined by his personal sense of reward and progress. 

Investing Wisely

Some basic guidelines for making a wise investment in your career development include:

  • Assessing your present status by considering what stage of your career development you have reached in terms of education, work experience, compatible career choice, and personal growth.
  • Evaluating what you need to do to progress, which may include exploring different career options, taking a vocational assessment test to assist you in making a suitable choice, furthering your education, upgrading your skills, strengthening weak areas, developing a wider and more marketable mix of skills, retraining for a field which offers greater scope.
  • Calculating what time and expenditure may be involved. Education and training are valuable commodities and require planning and financing. To ensure that your investment will achieve optimal results, you should make sure that the course or training you are receiving is relevant, recognized and applicable. Too many people train for training sake or invest in programmes without giving due consideration to how they will apply what they learn.
  • Whether preparing to further your education, enter university or college or chose a special course of training, ask yourself:
    • “How will I apply this knowledge?”,
    • “How will this benefit my career development”,
    • “Of what practical use is this?”
Once you can answer these questions, then you are likely to make a good investment that will bring benefits and rewards, and you can consider the money you spend on your education as a sound investment in yourself.
  • Stop from time to time to take stock of yourself and assess what credits and benefits you have gained and how your investment is going. Career people are now able to quantify how much their education and work experience is worth, thanks to salary surveys such as these produced by the Jamaica Employers’ Federation which outlines exactly what salaried employees in different sectors and positions can command.
 In the area of self fulfillment, spiritual and intellectual growth however, each individual must do his own qualitative analysis and assess how much he or she has grown. This is an important part of the process, as we need to evaluate ourselves not only as professionals or career people, but in our entirety as human beings unfolding our full potential and attaining fulfillment through our life’s work. 
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