Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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3 Training, retraining or gaining new qualifications

If you look closely at the weaknesses section of Lucy’s SWOT analysis, there are several areas where she has identified a possible need for her to develop her skills in some way, possibly through training. In particular she makes the following statements about her weaknesses:

  • I am not very good at using IT effectively.
  • I am nervous when in front of an audience.

These are both areas that could be addressed by training, and give Lucy the opportunity to practise new skills developed through such training. In the case of Lucy’s IT skills, she probably needs to define exactly which of her IT skills needs improving. For example, does she struggle with particular packages such as Excel or PowerPoint? As Lucy works in marketing, it is clear that both of these applications would be relevant to her role and lacking confidence in using them is likely to hold her back in terms of her career progression.

Alternatively, Lucy may feel that social media is increasingly important in her role but she lacks confidence in using it appropriately. Similarly, her reservations about her nerves in front of an audience possibly stem from the fact that this it is an important part of her job, or likely to be so, and she lacks the strategies to cope with her anxiety.

A starting point for Lucy with both these cases would be for her to discuss her concerns with her line manager and seek advice on how to fill the gaps. Her line manager should be able to help her understand the likely importance of these skills in her role and whether or not they are a priority for her. If they are, then the company has a responsibility to ensure that Lucy is trained adequately and should ensure that she goes on appropriate training courses, possibly through in-house or online provision.

This being said, Lucy also makes other statements in her SWOT analysis including:

  • There is a lack of good designers with the right skills in the organisation.
  • Many of my work colleagues have a degree and therefore have more potential opportunities.
  • My line manager would like to leave his job and I am uncertain about his possible replacement.

These concerns are not quite so easily addressed by merely talking to her line manager, although this might be a useful first step. They also have potential implications for Lucy’s training and development but over a longer timescale than the previous examples.

To address the first statement, Lucy would benefit from doing some research into footwear design courses and how the company recruits designers. This might reveal shortages of trained designers in the UK or the fact that the company does not have the right contacts with vocational training courses in this field. Ideally, Lucy would conduct this research with her organisation’s agreement but she might also do this in her own time. The outcomes of her research might link closely with her second statement.

The second statement is very much concerned with Lucy’s future career and she is right to be attentive to this. She might begin by looking at her company’s policy on supporting staff wishing to gain further qualifications of this type. They might have specific courses that they insist their staff follow that are in the interests of the company.

Lucy also needs to think about where she sees herself going in the future – would a degree help this process and, if so, what type? Seeking some objective careers advice at this stage might also be helpful. This is clearly a longer-term process but letting the organisation know that she is ambitious will not harm her chances and may even open doors for her. Doing some research and then having a conversation with her line manager would be a good strategy.

The third statement, while reflecting her uncertainty about the future, is also linked to Lucy’s career aspirations. It is possible that she’s worried she may not like the new line manager as much as her current one. She might also calculate that their leaving could present a promotion opportunity for someone such as herself (or maybe a colleague with a degree!). Her line manager might be happy to have a confidential discussion about these possibilities and to give Lucy some advice but she needs to be alert to the possible implications for her training and development.

It is clear, then, that these last statements all have a bearing on each other and that Lucy can’t look at them in isolation. It is also evident that research is going to be a key part of her strategy so that her knowledge and understanding of her organisation, industry and sector can inform any decisions that she has to make.

Activity 3 Identifying your next steps

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Return to your SWOT analysis and pick out any statements that you made that refer to, or have implications for, training or gaining new qualifications. Using Lucy’s experience as a guide, decide what specific action you need to take. This could include making training applications, doing further research or seeking advice – try to be as specific as possible and to put a timescale on these actions.

Table 4 Identifying and meeting your training needs

SWOT statement Specific action required Timescale
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Comment

This activity has no correct answer apart from the one that is appropriate for you. However, you should be able to make use of the thinking that you did about this topic in Week 4 and to begin to make some concrete plans based on your SWOT analysis.

You have now looked at improving your work performance and the training and qualifications you could undertake as outcomes of your SWOT analysis. You might also have identified the possibility of a new job or even a career change so this will be the final area you’ll investigate.

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