Much has been said recently about the position of women in business and the need for education as a means of unlocking businesswomen’s self-belief.

None of us know what the future holds in store. What we do know is that change is inevitable. To be adequately equipped for change, it is essential that we develop the necessary skills to deal with such change. 

The question is, how do we prepare for changes in our work environment, how do we predict an unknown future in our work environment and most importantly, how should women prepare for the future? 

Any woman working for a company that has developed a culture of learning and established the importance of the role women play in business is lucky. Such a company would have taken care of the development needs of all employees, irrespective of gender. 
In addition, such a company would have developed a learning path or a continuous development programme for women, as well as men during the course of their career with them. 

However, to remain in demand in the workplace, it is essential that women in particular continue on a path of personal and professional development. Women need to develop and demonstrate their leadership skills, communication skills, inter-personal skills, ability to be innovative and ability to compete with their male counterparts. 

These are some of the skills sought by employers and are always in demand in the workplace, but historically seem to have been the domain of men only. This is not to say women did not possess such qualities, because they certainly did, it is just that many women were held back for some reason. 

Many of the people I train say: “The company does not offer such programmes for women.” 
The result is that women do nothing to develop these skills. Many sit back waiting for others to train them or feel they are in a “no way forward or no future” situation. 

It is time such women took control of their own development and future. It is time such women did something to be noticed in the workplace. It is time such women took an active role in promoting themselves, their abilities and capabilities. It is time such women took ownership of their future. 

What you should do: 

• Identify the areas you want to improve on and choose one or two. Concentrate on them over the next six to 12 months;
• Develop a long- and short-term self-development plan. It can include further education and training to develop the skills you need to advance in your career;
• Consider your current position and the company you work for. What does your company do and what are the essential skills required in the company? After you have identified these skills, undertake some training to ensure that you become multi-skilled; 
• Do not jeopardise your future by concentrating only on the skills necessary to do your current job? Multi-skilling is the way of the future; 
• Finally, broaden your horizons by learning as much you can about the world of business.
When was the last time your read the business section in the press? What changes have taken place recently in the economy, your profession or industry?
No one can predict the future, but you can stay ahead of the competition by staying informed and by taking charge of your personal development. 

Des Squire is a managing member at AMSI and Associates. Call 082 800 9057 or email [email protected].

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