Making Time for Self-Development — The Question Is, Can You Afford Not To?
Monica Galleguillos, Global Training Senior Manager at NSF, urges professionals in the food industry to strive to upskill. By doing so, you will benefit your employer and consumers while boosting your own career.
Here she considers the benefits of continuous training and development and shows how you can make it happen.
Ensuring the quality and safety of food offered to consumers around the world is a complex, skilled and highly responsible job. Add to this the ever-present appetite of consumers for the development of new food products, plus the constant pressure on the food industry for greater innovation and more sustainable production, and the job of professionals in the sector is far from easy.
Academic training alone is not enough to stay up to date and relevant in today’s labor market. Those in the food industry must be aware of the need for ongoing professional training and set themselves learning objectives that will improve their knowledge, their skills and, ultimately, their employability.
Employability Is Key
The term “employability” quite simply means the set of skills and talents that enable an individual to get and keep a job. It also refers to the factors that allow a person to grow and develop in the workplace, so we can safely conclude that employability is dynamic and can be improved.
Most obviously, a person’s employability influences their job potential. The extent of their employability provides them with more or fewer opportunities to be hired and, when recruited, to progress. This progression may involve developing their career within the same company or moving to another that offers better terms, conditions and opportunities.
A key value that employability generates in the wider market is labor mobility. Put simply, “external” employability encompasses the skills required by the labor market in general, as opposed to “internal” employability, which relates to the specific abilities needed by the company where the individual works.
A central path to improved internal and external employability is training. Clearly, the requirements of the labor market change over time, so workers of all types need to adapt to new realities. Through training, both academic and practical, they can develop professionally, refreshing their knowledge and skills to perform their current role effectively and lay the groundwork for career progression.
Six Steps to Success
As a food industry professional, you can improve your career prospects — both internally, in your current company, and externally, in the job market — by expanding your knowledge and skills. But to implement change successfully, you need a plan. The following six-point training plan will provide you with a reliable structure:
ObjectiveAsk yourself what you want to achieve with your training plan? Do you want to look internally or externally (or both)? If looking externally, what kind of company would you like to work for? What type of positions do you want to apply for? What additional knowledge, skills or qualifications do you need to improve your employability?
TimeEstablish a realistic schedule, taking account of the courses you want to complete, their duration and whether they involve an official exam.
ResourcesConsider practical issues, including when you can best make time for your training, materials you may need and how you will cover the costs (will your company contribute?).
EvaluationMonitor your progress at regular intervals. This will tell you if you are going in the right direction and at the right pace.
BarriersIdentify actual or potential obstacles to successfully completing your training and prepare ways to overcome them.
SupportTalk to people in your network who can guide you in your career development — for example, by advising on the best training providers or offering insight into challenging topics.
Review Your Plan
Finally, remember that the demands made on professionals in the food industry are constantly growing and changing, so you should review your training plan regularly. This will ensure that it remains aligned with the evolution of the industry from a technical and regulatory perspective, as well as with the labor market’s employability requirements and with your own specific needs and ambitions.