Skills. It’s a topic that continually arises in the workplace. From conquering the IT skills gap to continuous personal development – it’s an issue that equally impacts both employers and employees.
The pandemic has not only impacted the operations and viability of organisations, but as an International Labour Organisation report outlines, it disrupted the education and training of individuals globally. As a result, it’s no wonder that it’s a topic on the collective minds of our TDL Community members, too.
In polls we recently conducted on our Community platform, professional development was found to be high on the agenda for many this year. One in every two respondents who completed our survey (53%) said they will be focusing on building technical skills this year. This was closely followed by developing business or sector knowledge (22%) and leadership development (16%).
But while hard skills are high on the agenda, there is the acknowledgment that soft skills – such as better communication, increasing creativity and more diverse problem solving – must also be cultivated.
The road to self-improvement is not necessarily easy, but recognition of strengths and weaknesses is an important place to start. In a separate poll we conducted, we saw some interesting trends emerge.
The majority of respondents felt communication was their strongest skill (54%), whilst no-one chose time management as their strongest skill (0%). In terms of areas for development, unsurprisingly it was time management that was the most popular soft skill people wanted to improve, with a third of respondents feeling they need to prioritise this area of development, with 26% of respondents focusing on leadership and 23% choosing to focus on communication as an area that they most wanted to improve.
The benefits to professional development are not just personal – there is a clear benefit for employers. Research from the Association for Talent Development (ATD) found that companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalised training. There is also a correlation in the amount invested in training as the ATD also identified that those companies who invest more in professional development also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.
But what does that mean for your personal development?
Having an opportunity to expose yourself to new ideas, insights and skills from people outside of your core circle or organisation can transform your ability to learn new skills. Mentoring is a brilliant way to do this.
As part of our online community, we have a page dedicated to the topic featuring people offering their services to become a mentor. With cross-sector specialists open to taking on mentees, this could be a positive option to explore and further your personal and professional development this year.
If you don’t feel ready for a mentor just yet, we also are running many of informative events in the Community. A list of the available upcoming sessions is available here:
The Data Lab Community – Events (Login Required)
If you feel that your data skills need some brushing up, take a look at our Data Skills for Work programme or check out our online courses:
We want to hear from you. What are the topics that you are passionate about or don’t feel is given enough attention? Let us know what you are interested in, and we will organise a poll to be run in our Community. Drop us a line at email@example.com