Strengthening Your Skill Set

Rapid changes in todays economy and workplace require a focus on updated skills.

11WP-pinata-LIVEFor six years Shulonda Rankins-Morris was a district branch service manager at Grainger Industrial Supply. “We had a lot of Hispanic customers requesting our service, and we didn’t have anyone in the branch that knew Spanish,” says Morris, now a region vice president-retail sales and logistics at Kraft Foods Inc. She saw this as an opportunity to strengthen her skill set, especially since she had her eye on taking an assignment at Grainger’s South America location. Morris immediately enrolled in classes to study the language.

A survey conducted by Kelly Services, a workforce management company, suggests Americans do not feel confident that the skills they currently possess can compete with the rapid changes in the workplace. Of 14,000 surveyed Americans:

—82% of men and 79% of women believe that their current skills need to be upgraded within the next five years in order for them to keep abreast of advances in the workplace.

—76% of Generation Y, 82% of Generation X, 80% of baby boomers, and 56% of the silent generation believe their current skills need to be upgraded in five years.

The truth is employees should consistently assess their skills against the demands and requirements of their industry. To begin your assessment, Trudy Bourgeois, president of the Center for Workforce Excellence, recommends securing a copy of your job description and researching it by studying trade publications, attending business seminars focused on industry trends, as well as setting up informational interviews with professional leaders in your area of business. Once you get the information, Bourgeois advises rating your skill set based upon the skills that are critical for your current job or the one you want on a scale of one to five. How well do you perform now, what will it require for you to keep pace or even ahead of industry demands, and what will it require for you to be an industry leader?

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