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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Working for yourself must also mean learning for yourself

19 July 2018

In the landscape of freelancing and the gig economy, your personal development may be well down the priority ladder. Plus for many businesses, time out for learning is time out from earning.

The old proverb says that if you think education is expensive, you should try paying for ignorance. That’s a reasonably self-evident conclusion, but it’s a conclusion that only sits well when learning and personal development are neglected options, rather than luxuries many businesses feel they can’t afford. Something that has to go when the burden of expense falls firmly on a business owners own shoulders.

Keeping up with latest developments, regulations and best practice are all part of the day to day running of an operation like Springfords. We know that the value of a highly educated and continually trained team pays dividends for our clients, as much as it pays off as an investment in the future of the firm.

Often though, the cost of staying on the learning curve can prove too steep for some modern-day entrepreneurs, forced to meet all the costs of establishing business on their own.

Given that so much of the economy now depends on individuals, there’s little surprise in learning that learning is not as popular as would be healthy for a vibrant future. That cost of ignorance just keeps rising and rising, as a swathe of British businesses are falling behind in developing their staff. The most common culprits are businesses with a staff of one.

A new survey by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) has revealed that a quarter of UK workers are failing to prioritise professional learning and development. That, the survey concludes, is putting them at risk of falling behind as the pace of technological change demands new skills to keep up.

It’s no insignificant minority either. Eight million UK workers are at risk of what the Association’s survey calls complacency. The finding is that more than a quarter of the workforce took part in no formal training whatsoever in the last twelve months. The survey suggests that dwindling resources and a reluctance to engage in training opportunities may leave the country lagging behind in the skills to do business in the ever-more technical and competitive twenty-first century.

Many business owners and many more freelance workers are up in arms about the perceived accusations of complacency. For them, the everyday facts of life are a tight budget and a heavy workload, that leaves them in a ‘full stack’ mode, with simply no more pennies in the pot nor hours in the day. Something has got to give, and all too often it’s learning and personal development. It’s not that ambitious business owners aren’t aware of the problem, they say, it’s just that they cannot do anything about it.

Until now.

Modern solutions are proposed by organisations like the Chartered Institute of Personal Development. Radical new ways of staying up to date might mean offering employees opportunities to take part in both structured learning and learning and development solutions that are embedded in everyday tasks and processes. Back in the day it was called learning on the job, but today that could also mean practicing supervised tasks ‘off-line’ for even a short part of the working day - essentially trading time instead of money to train up for the job.

The AICPA report further suggested that employees who missed out on training risked lagging behind in their careers or even dropping out entirely because they lack the skills and knowledge to keep up with technology. It recommended that employees take on increased responsibility for their own personal learning needs. That may mean being more disciplined about your learning, or being more open about the needs for development, especially in a small team.

It may be that the training companies of the future will place less emphasis on taking workers out of the work place for detached courses, and concentrate more on in-house learning opportunities that relate more closely to the daily working patterns of their clients.

The workers of the future who thrive, will be the ones who thought smarter about getting smarter, and honed their sharply tuned, user-centric, problem-solving learning capability right inside their working environment. They’ll be the ones who keep the cost of ignorance down to a minimum, by investing time for learning as an investment in their future.


About the Springfords blog

springfords blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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