One of the major after effects of Covid-19 will be job losses and difficulty in getting new jobs. Lucky will be the people with the relevant and competitive skills set. Unfortunately, very few people invest in the continuous development of their professional skills and personal attributes. The few that do so, go far in their career or business. If you want to stand out, you need to become like the few that have mastered this art.
Look at companies in the industry. Those that continuously innovate, reading the trends and working to be pacesetters keep thriving, and they go on to withstand the winds of change. But those that remain stagnant end up dying. Where is Research In Motion (RIM), the owners and manufacturers of the Blackberry Handset which was at one point very popular? They are nearly dead. What about Nokia which was once a household name and mobile customers did not think twice about which brand of mobile handset they wanted to buy.
On the other hand, Apple, the owners of the iPhone family of handsets and Samsung keep thriving because they have kept innovating. They have continued to develop themselves in a positive direction. They kept reading the evolution of customer interests and they developed products that satisfied if not exceeded that expectation. They kept evolving. Sometimes, they even went a step further to influence what customers should like.
At personal level too, you need to survive like Apple and like Samsung by continuously developing yourself to meet or even exceed the expectations of your current and potential future employers. You have to constantly remain relevant, valuable and competitive. Your past achievements are not enough to make you attractive for future opportunities. Recently, I looked at my CV and saw that while I have a lot of professional courses that I attended a few years ago, I do not have as many registered in the recent past. I criticised myself for that. It means that I have been too comfortable. It means that I am at the edge of having sterile knowledge. I have to challenge myself – to reboot, refresh and upgrade my knowledge and skills. I have to now work hard to invest in my professional development.
I am sure that many of you fall in my bracket – where we have been rather too relaxed, too comfortable with the little knowledge and skills that we have. But we need to challenge ourselves so that we can remain current, relevant and competitive.
The problem is that few people invest their own money and time for their professional development. They want others to spend for and on them. They want the company they work for to provide all the training and skills development programmes. But remember that your employers also have their agenda and their agenda may not always marry or align with yours. Their priorities and yours will rarely resemble. You too need to push your agenda.
To illustrate this point, as you develop, some of the skills you will want to acquire are for the next job you are chasing, not just the skills for the current job. Your employer’s major focus is to ensure that you have the skills needed for you to deliver in the current job – not for the next job. That is the starting point of the differences between your agenda and the agenda of your employer. Few employers will give you chance to develop the skills that you will need tomorrow or for the next job. At a personal level, you need to mind not only about the skills that you need now for the current job. You need to mind as much about the skills you will need tomorrow, for the next job.
Good luck as you work to continuously develop your skills so that you can remain, current, competitive and relevant. If you do not invest in your professional development, you are likely to remain stagnant and become sterile in knowledge, skills and competences. Good luck as you work to make a good plan for your future in career! Rise and shine! n
Pension is generally understood to be a retirement savings plan where one saves part of their income today to use on a rainy day, especially when one is in the “sun set” years of life.
In an earlier article, I posed the question: ‘What do we know about pensions?’ In that entry, I gave a background of the new Pensions Act which came into effect on July 1 2011 and effectively made pensions mandatory.
In fact, my article was inspired by a presentation by a professor in economics who asked us during a meeting: “What do you know about pensions?” There was silence then laughter. From this reaction by the audience, one easily concluded that many of us were ignorant.
The professor said in one of his research findings, some respondents said they understood a pension scheme as an arrangement where government or an employer contributes funds to pay an employee upon retirement. He said some said they had never heard about the pension scheme and a third of people in urban areas, in formal employment for that matter, thought pensions were voluntary.
Today, I will share some feedback and insights on the issue of pensions as shared to me by one avid reader who, in fact, is in the pensions industry. I thought it would help many of us if I shared the same through this column:
Wrote the reader: “Good morning, A very good article on your column ‘Business Unpacked’ today. I encourage you to keep writing as this is an area that is less understood by most employees and as such many are not following or getting the best out of their pension arrangements due to lack of such information.
“I would like to ask that in a future article please do consider writing on specific information that each pension fund member needs to know about their pension arrangement.
“Equipped with such information, many individuals will closely follow how their pension arrangements are being managed and be better prepared for retirement. Regards.”
Here are some of the areas the reader indicated that as an employee or pension fund member, we all need to know:
Understanding the employers’ obligations in a pension scheme
(a). To pay in the correct contributions at the right time. Failure to do this can have a negative impact on the pension benefit levels that any member can attain. Members need to have in place a process of checking this.
(b). Employers should maintain a life insurance policy: minimum cover one x annual pensionable emoluments.
(c). For those who have been in employment prior to June 1 2011, employers should have calculated severance liability to May 30 2011, compare this with the pension benefit available at the time (i.e. if the employer had a pension arrangement).
(d). If the pension benefit (employer contribution are less than the severance liability) the employer needed to contribute into the pension fund the balance. This can be done over a period, but there is interest that the employer shoulders.
Right to information
The Pension Act has provided that each member should be provided information
1. Prior to joining the fund
2. Regularly (at least once every six months).”
The reader said another important area where there is a challenge is nomination of beneficiaries in case of death before pension benefits are accessed by the member.
The reader encouraged pension fund members should ensure that they nominate their beneficiaries and keep the records safely with the trustees
Besides, such nominations should be current. In other words, they should be reviewed regularly by the members to avoid situations where the benefits are distributed to people that should otherwise not have benefited from the pension.
What is coming out is that it is important to know that employees or pension fund members are a major stakeholder in the pension industry; hence, I would urge them to make follow ups on remittances of their deductions and seek redress wherever they feel they are getting a raw deal. Pension contributions are in preparation for a better tomorrow.