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How can I improve my skills on my own initiative?

Home Learning College

To learn more about how Home Learning College could help you achieve the profile you want, visit

In today's cutthroat and competitive workplace, charm, punctuality, respect for your bosses and a willingness to muck in are not enough to get you to the top of the greasy pole. Progression will come from being the best equipped to positively respond and answer the evolving needs of the business - and that means having the right skills to call on.

In the not too distant past, employers recognised the value of investing in the continuous professional development of their staff, and would ensure either internal or external training opportunities were made available.

Tight training budgets in tough times

Because of the current climate though, such investment is harder to both justify and come by. Research by the Sector Skills Council earlier this year, for example, showed that 51 per cent of business owners are planning to cut their training budgets. 

Where does this leave the employee who remains keen to progress up the career ladder? Where can they go, and what can they do, to ensure that they remain in possession of the appropriate skills for that company - or indeed, those with whom they want to work?

It's on you to get the skills you need

Opportunities for self-improvement via study programmes, further education and vocational training abound, and with a little energy, it is possible for the ambitious worker to keep their skills quotient high, and their prospects positive.

However, before making some sort of commitment, it is vital to ask some questions:
- Have you taken the time to identify what new skills your company might need?
- Who can you ask?
- Will the skills you require represent a logical evolution of those you already have, or are you making a bold change of direction?
- Have you the time and resources available that you'll need to ensure you do the best job possible of securing the skills you require?
- How do your personal circumstances fit the goal that you seek?

It is essential to match the skills you'll gain to those demanded by the need you hope to meet. For example, the ability to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds - a skill that you might gain from volunteering for a charity - will be of only limited relevance if your company is seeking to develop an internal web design resource. Likewise, a certificate in accounting and bookkeeping won't be much relevance if you want to improve your people management skills.

Match your training with your circumstances

Look carefully at what need you are seeking to fulfil and then seek out a source that will provide an answer - and which fits your personal circumstances. If you are in employment already, then a full or part-time college course may not be feasible - although studying at your own pace in your own home might be. If you are seeking out practical, vocational skills then specialist colleges - with access to the equipment and facilities you need - might be the best option. Some internet research will provide you with a clearer picture of your options, and providers will supply you with additional information on specific services, costs and course details.
To learn more about how Home Learning College could help you realise your potential and ensure your skills set is as refined as possible, visit

Last Updated: 15/07/2009 - 11:34 AM