HOW many times do we hear of a company has been negatively affected by the recession followed by the inevitable talk of retrenchments? Our first thought is usually, "That can't happen to me. The company I work for is big enough to withstand the effects of the recession and they will never retrench me."
But, just as everyone knows someone who has been affected by crime, we all know of someone who has been affected by the retrenchment nightmare.
It's not something anyone likes to think about, but if you had to wake up one morning without a job to go to, would you be able to say that you have been proactive and done everything you could to ensure that you are employable? Or would you be in the middle of that nightmare?
To illustrate the point I want to make, let's look at a hypothetical interview conducted by James, the employer, and Harold, the job applicant:
James: Tell me about your work experience.
Harold: I was with XYZ Company for 12 years and then the company closed down because of the recession.
James: I'm sorry to hear that - 12 years is a long time. Tell me about your qualifications.
Harold: Well, when I completed my matric, I joined the company.
James: Any other qualifications or courses that you've done?
If you were James, and bearing in mind that Harold has not kept up-to-date by attending some recognised educational or training programmes, would you employ Harold? Probably not.
Can you identify with Harold? Instead of enrolling for courses and furthering your studies to improve your qualifications, have you stagnated while waiting for your employer to send you on training programmes?
I've been involved in training for a long time and I've done a fair bit of studying - and at any given time, I could give you a dozen reasons why I shouldn't be sitting in a training classroom or at my desk working on assignments! There is cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, soapies - and even women's beach volleyball on the television that I could be watching...
But, when I find myself being complacent, I remember that while it is quite possible to work without results, but there will never be results without work.
And there are very good reasons why you should study further: For yourself and your family. It's important that you take control of your own future - and you can do this by keeping up to date with the ever-evolving technological and legislative changes that impact on the type of work that you do.
Remember, it is vital that you stay ahead of the pack - and the only way you can do this is by your own initiative, positive action and an understanding of your industry.
The types of self-development you, as an electrician, should consider, include (but are not limited to) programmes on new legislation and codes of practice. And, if you have undergone in-service training on the equipment and procedures utilised by your employer, be sure to ask for certification that proves you are competent in those areas and add them to your curriculum vitae.
When you sit in an interview, it is difficult for the interviewer to comprehend how hard you have worked for the past 12 years and, if you cannot prove anything, there is little chance that you will be given the position you are applying for.
On the other hand, imagine how an interview could turn out if you told the interviewer that, although you passed matric 12 years ago, you have since attended a number of training programmes, are familiar with new developments and confident you can operate within the current regulations. Furthermore, the fact that you have not stagnated but have a proven track record and additional qualifications will warrant a better salary than if you only had your trade qualification.
So, if you do not want to find yourself a player in the retrenchment nightmare, equip yourself with qualifications and you will be creating the best opportunity you will ever have of being able to work for yourself and your family.
You are never too old to learn! Keep in touch with the changes and content of your occupation - and remember: It is better to burn out than to rust out.
Nick du Plessis is the managing director of P and T Technology (Pty) Ltd. He is a Master Installation Electrician, has a National N Diploma, a Master Certificate in Training and Development from Rand Afrikaans University and Certificate in Occupational Development ETD practices NQF 6, and is a registered HR Practitioner with the South African Board for Personnel Practice. He is a registered assessor and moderator with various SETAs.
Nick also serves on various committees and bodies such as:
- Association of Accredited Electrical Inspection Bodies of South Africa, (chairman);
- Installation Electrician, Master Installation Electrician Committee (member)
- South African National Accreditation Systems (STC member)
- Energy Sector Education Training Authority ETQA (member)
- CHIETA SETA PST (member/consultant)