Gray Power: Use skills to avoid job layoffs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2006

No matter what kind of work you do, it is very important to keep your skills up to date.

Be aware of your employer&8217;s priorities and what might be needed to stay ahead. Sometimes, it is obvious what you need to do. For example, your employer may be getting new equipment or starting new procedures.

Make sure you take the necessary training and learn the skills needed to operate the new equipment or carry out the new procedures.

In other cases, it may be harder to figure out how to stay ahead. Talk with your supervisor. Pay attention to company newsletters and reports.

Take advantage of any training offered by your employer. If training is offered only to certain groups of employees, such as younger workers, point this out and ask to be included.

If your request is denied, point out that it&8217;s discriminatory to deny training based on age.

If your request to be included in the training is not corrected, consider filing a charge.

Look for chances to increase your knowledge in these three areas: skills directly related to the content of your work; skills related to how your work is done, such as new computer systems; and skills related to the people side of work, such as communication or diversity training.

Benefit from employer-provided training when it is available. Find low-cost community programs to fill in the gaps.

Which of these ideas appeals to you?

– Achieve the next level of certificate, license, or credential in your field.

– Catch up on the basic math or language skills you need to begin a certificate program, or to do your job better.

– Start learning or improving the foreign language that would help your employer stay relevant and meet customer needs.

– Take a public speaking course. This can help you present your ideas more effectively at work.

– Take a communications course to help you carry out team projects better, or move into managing people.

– Is there a new emphasis on mediating personnel problems at work? Get qualified in alternative dispute resolution.

– Take an efficiency workshop, to learn new tricks for organizing your time and projects better.

– Do you want more work responsibility but haven&8217;t got it yet? Join a community leadership course for practice.

– Explore mentoring opportunities.

-Make sure your supervisor knows what skill training you take. Show your willingness to take on new tasks or to update how you accomplish your work.

Dr. Marvin Copes is Education and Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama in Maylene. He can be reached by e-mail at