Taking a certified training course can help you gain valuable knowledge in different software applications while opening the door to new career opportunities.
Software and equipment can be a vital tool in many career paths, helping you to complete your everyday tasks efficiently and to a good standard. Some job roles will require you to have specific training on certain software, for example Adobe Creative Cloud, which you may not be familiar with, or you may just have an interest to learn more about how the software works.
Before you set out trying to become an expert on every piece of software possible, it’s important to identify what specific tools you need to learn about in your chosen field. Ask colleagues or a mentor about what they use most, or research the tools used in your dream job role. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the software if possible, or follow an online tutorial to double check it is what you were expecting before finding a training course.
Once you have completed technical training, you may find many new career opportunities are available to you. Sophie Chuter, Rising Star Award winner in 2019, used her grant to fund an Adobe certified Photoshop course. “Part of the work we do in our team is manipulating and colour correcting images for our print campaigns. However, I lacked knowledge and confidence in Photoshop to be able to do this. Completing the course will give me an Adobe Mid-level certification which is a recognised qualification in the industry and one that will help me to progress into more senior roles.”
Amy Elrington used her award to do an Adobe Creative Cloud print workshop as well as a course in SEO. For her, the award was invaluable; “The award gave me the opportunity to develop my practical skills in design and online digital marketing. Not only that, I had the opportunity to meet with the talented judges, who challenged me to answer questions about where I want to go with my career.”
Software training is a brilliant way to invest in your career. If you know what programmes you need to use to progress, apply to the Rising Star Awards before the 7th March.
The Printing Charity’s CEO, Neil Lovell, shares his thoughts for prospective Rising Star applicants
Each year we run an awards programme for young people in our sector. It’s familiar territory for sectors to champion the brightest and the best and we do it by offering funding to gain skills that otherwise may not be part of on-the-job training. The awards are now the largest single initiative for young people in our sector and this year we have changed the name to the ‘Rising Star Awards’ to better reflect what they are about.
It seems simple to say if you’re between 18 and 30 and working in our sector, here’s up to £1500, now think of how you’ll use it to enrich your skills and help you develop in your career. It’s actually harder than you think, especially if you’re so focussed on learning specific skills necessary to do your job. The challenge is asking applicants to think beyond this.
The most in demand ‘soft skills’ today
I joined an online seminar recently where future skills and skills gaps were discussed. What struck me was that the skills they were describing were ‘soft skills’, those sometimes intangible competencies that are often overlooked. They included: fluency of ideas, monitoring, systems evaluation, complex problem solving. Personally, I think these are new descriptions to say the same things I’d have been expected to pick up when I first started work (about 100 years ago); being creative and open to ideas, understanding how to check progress and validate what you’re doing and finding answers to problems you face. I know why, as an employer, I would want my team to have these skills; they are a sign that someone isn’t just able to do the role they have but can do it in such a way that it’s more likely to be done well.
The other part of the seminar talked about the skills needing most improvement from an employers perspective. These ranged from the ability to manage your own time and prioritise tasks, to knowledge of products and services, and customer handling. It’s a little frightening that there is thought to be a deficit in these areas by employers but here, too, there are plenty of courses on time management, how to manage customers, and depending on your area of responsibility, how to learn more about the products and services you’re responsible for.
To help you find the skills you need, we’ve explained soft skills and why you need them and listed some of the online soft skills courses available.
Are you a Rising Star?
For me, I believe what’s key is no matter which sector or business you are in, your skills, knowledge and experience are what differentiate you from everyone else. Finding ways to keep developing and growing through learning is vitally important once you leave formal education because it’s who you are and what you bring to a team and an organisation that matter. Take every opportunity you can to take on new responsibilities, put your hand up, say yes to the opportunity to do new things and you will go far. The way we work and the jobs we do will keep changing so although, of course, specific qualifications and certified training are important to show competence, the power of soft skills is in adding to your personal tool kit.
And why not start by checking out our Rising Star Awards? If you meet the criteria (18-30 years of age, working in our sector) and can demonstrate why you want the funds and how they will help you become more rounded and capable, we’d love to hear from you.
Ready to boost your skills, or know someone that is? Fill in this application form and return it to us before 7 March 2021.
We spoke to Julia Cole, Trustee of The Printing Charity and long term employee of the print sector, to get her views on how to approach personal development.
Knowing where to start with personal development can be hard, so why not think about finding a mentor? I’m fortunate to have acted as a mentor for many young people over the years and often suggest the following as a starting place:
- List your strengths and weaknesses
- Think about what direction you want to take
- Look at where there are gaps in your knowledge in order to reach these goals
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can create a personal development plan, with tangible actions you need to take.
Finding the right mentor
A mentor can help you create this plan, or help you execute it, especially if they have expertise in the areas you need support with.
The big benefit of having a mentor is how they can help you assess your objectives from a different perspective. A mentor may inspire you with thoughts or suggestions you might not have considered before. With the benefit of your combined experience, you can tackle your plan and work out those goals, and what training may benefit you on a long-term basis.
Do you know someone that would make a good mentor? Perhaps they are a colleague at work or a friend? Make sure to choose someone you feel comfortable with and who understands your desire to develop and grow.
Could you be a Rising Star?
I am thrilled about this year’s launch of the newly rebranded Rising Stars Awards, coming at just the right moment in these challenging times. Together with a mentor, you may have revealed the new skills you are missing, and what training opportunities are available.
Once you know what you need to accelerate in your career, apply to be a Rising Star and you can win a grant of up to £1500 to pay for the training you need.
Complete the application form before 7th March.