• July 12th, 2020

Weekly takeaway with Lawrence Kamwi - Is there value in a jack-of-all-trades?

Lawrence Kamwi

A Unesco report has reiterated that the global Covid-19 outbreak does not only affect health, lives and economies. It also has an impact on the labour market and the education sector.
“As of 22 June 2020, more than one billion learners were affected by the closures of schools, training institutions and universities with nationwide closures effective in 140 countries. Consequently, different forms of online learning and collaboration have become the focus of attention in an effort to ensure continuity of learning.” Some online educators have come up with catchy programme titles, which promise to bust the coronavirus-induced boredom. The courses pledge to impart new hobbies, new language skills, and even career changes. Thus while marketed as boredom-busters, the courses also retool or repurpose skills and knowledge. From working at home to defining essential services, one of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is to challenge workers and learners to think about and embrace new competencies. Better qualifications and improved knowledge mean multiple benefits for the discerning and curious learner. Not surprisingly, many parts of the world returned to the 2013 book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams.  The author reportedly transitioned from being a “hapless office worker and serial failure in business” to create one of the world’s most famous success stories through the syndicated Dilbert cartoon strip.  Adams has attributed his success to a passion for continuous learning or what he calls talent stacking. He says the combination of normal-level skills leads to improved chances of success.

Adams combined an ordinary talent for drawing and writing, a decent sense of humour, a strong work ethic, a high tolerance of risk, and years of experience in the corporate world to become the wildly-successful cartoonist. 
Adams contends that “there are two ways to make yourself valuable. The first is to be best at some specific skills, the way Tiger Woods dominated golf. So that path is unavailable to 90% of the world. I recommend a different approach – develop a variety of skills that will work well together.” Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that “in a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enough to be smart – you need to always be getting smarter.” There is an undoubted emphasis on the value and efficacy of complementary skills, which on their own, may not appear valuable. However, they help towards personal and professional development, mastery of skills, and create unique values, when aggregated together.

Communication skills, time management, critical thinking, relationship building, learning agility, social media literacy, creativity and team play are some of the sought-after competencies that lead to new levels of expertise. 
Communication coach Laura Camacho says, “communication habits determine how people remember you, or even if they remember you, and how people feel when they are in your company.” For author Steve Ulfelder, talent or skills stacking equals a stretch assignment which requires “a worker or learner to take a leap beyond his or her comfort zone, and in the process, pick up new skills.”
The long-term lesson from talent stacking is that it exposes and nurtures different personalities with the variegated tastes, experiences and passions that are often hidden in a resume. It allows people to demonstrate their unique sets of skills, experiences and character traits in ways that set them apart from other candidates.

Staff Reporter
2020-06-26 09:27:04 | 16 days ago

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