News

Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 61 – Courses, Events and Training

Welcome to the September edition of the Registrant Resources Edition of Information Overload. Undertaking personal and professional development is crucial in today’s knowledge driven society. However it can be a rather ad-hoc process, based on what courses are available rather than determining what courses we actually need. The September edition of the Registrant Resources of Information Overload looks at how to ensure that the money that you have set aside for training needs is well spent.

======================================================
In this issue we will look at:
• Undertaking a personal training needs analysis;
• Course and events;
• Mentoring;
• Reading as part of the professional development mix;
• A Thought to ponder.

It has been said by many people that you need to invest in your own future education by setting aside a certain amount of money each year so that you can attend many of the courses that are on offer. The question is; which ones do you attend? And should you invest the money yourself or should your employer pick up the tab?

Undertaking a personal training needs analysis:
Training needs exist where there is a gap between the knowledge, skills and attributes required by the jobs that are on offer and those already possessed by you.

There are many reasons why a training needs analysis should be undertaken, including:

• The kind of jobs that are available: If you want to move up the corporate hierarchy it is likely that you will need to gain new skills and attributes. With more money usually comes more responsibilities. So it is essential to ensure that you either plan ahead to make up the shortfall in your experience by undertaking formal classes and courses, or be willing to undertake the necessary training “on the job”. Whilst some employers may be willing to train you, and willing to pay for the privilege, especially in today’s tight labour market. If you want to stay ahead of your competition in the job application stakes, it can be wise to undertake some of the training yourself – before you decide to move onwards and upwards.

How do you know what courses you need to take? Well take a good look at the kinds of jobs on offer, and then decide – based on the skills and abilities that you have TODAY whether you could apply for the job tomorrow.

Simply go through the paper, or visit the Weekly Job Bulletin page on IEA’s own website – http://www.iea.com.au/web/Employment/Employment_Services_For_Job_Seekers/Weekly_Job_Bulletin/ and obtain the position descriptions and selection criteria for the position that you are interested in. Then go through the application and answer “honestly” whether you meet the criteria or not. Those areas where you said – no – are the areas you need to look at for further education.

• Introduction of new technology: Whenever a new piece of software is introduced there is a need to undertake some hands on training. And in some cases, it may also highlight associated training needs. For example, moving from a largely paper based office environment (are there any of those anymore?) to an electronic environment, will mean you will need training on the new system as well as the associated systems, for example Word processing and Email.

• Changes in Job Descriptions (New Duties): as our duties change, so does our need for new / additional training.

• To improve productivity and safety issues: by teaching you new skills and processes. For example, you have to visit clients onsite – which means you now have to know what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you need to wear and in some cases operate. Or you have been asked to re-locate an entire department – do you know how to move hundreds of boxes in a safe manner?

• There is also a need to improve product lines or fill gaps in the market: However, this relates more to your business owner / organisation rather than yourself – if we are talking about actual “products”.  But it is interesting to note though that businesses that do not build or adapt to the ever changing needs of the market place will rarely stay in business over the long term. So consider that you are a “product” and you can see that if you are not willing to change and adapt, you may find yourself losing out to someone who was willing to undertake further courses of study.

Remember though, only train in the identified gaps. Do not train for the sake of training.

Course and events:
Once you have identified the main reasons for undertaking additional training – based on all or some of the above. You can then determine who is running the kinds of courses that you are interested in.

The Records Management Association of Australasia has a list of recognised courses / training providers at http://www.rmaa.com.au/docs/profdev/education.cfm. However these are not the only courses on offer. For example, you may not need to undertake yet another Certificate or Degree Level course, but may be able to pick up the “odd” piece of training for an area that you need some additional information. For instance you’ve just been promoted, and are now expected to do classification and indexing of business records as well as opening and delivering of mail.

To find out who is running training courses and programmes it can be a good idea to join some or all of the list servs which service our industry. For example in Western Australia there is the West Australian Information Network (WAIN) and ALIAWest which covers the Library and Information Sectors. Within the records management sector, you will need to join the RMAA list serv (this list serv has an archive which is searchable). If you are interested in the Archival side of things, you will need to join the aus-archivists group (again national).

Or you could search the public sector announcement list – http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/psmd/pswa/pswa.html
again this archive is searchable, just remember to ensure that you type in your inquiry in upper case. For some reason the search engine can’t cope with lower case entries.

IEA’s own website has a comprehensive list of links and organisations of interest – go to http://www.iea.com.au/web/About_IEA/Links/. If you would like to join any of the Australian Library and Information Associations (ALIA) groups, you need to go to each individual list and register your interest. Whilst this can mean that you only get messages to your area of interest, you do miss out on some of the more interesting discussions offered by the national lists such as the RMAA and Aus-Archivists, which can broaden your knowledge in many different and related subject areas.

To join WAIN – send an e-mail message to: listproc@info.curtin.edu.au with the following message in the body of the mail:

SUBSCRIBE WAIN yourfirstname yourlastname

Mentoring:
If you are new to the profession you may feel that you simply do not know where to start, which is where mentoring can come into its own.

Most of the professional bodies in the information world within Australasia (sorry don’t know about the rest of the world) have a mentoring programme. This matches those people who are new to the industry or those recently graduated students with someone who has been working in the industry for some time.

The Australian Library and Information Association has more information on its mentoring programme at – http://alia.org.au/education/pd/mentoring/

To obtain information on these programmes, information is always posted to the many list servs mentioned above.

Reading as part of the professional development mix:
Reading plays an essential part when trying to keep up to date with what is happening within our industries. We have access to more information on more topics than ever before, and with the Internet opening up ever more avenues to us – it is important to be selective in what we choose to read.

However, one good thing about professional reading is that you can claim it as part of any continuing professional development (CPD) programme that you do. 

So what do you choose to read?

Well this depends to a great extent on the job that you do, as well as any formal courses that you undertake, and your personal subject(s) of interest. It is also important to consider reading outside the traditional library and information management sectors and venture into what can be deemed to be business management issues. For example:
• Human Resources (HR) (when you move up the corporate ladder you need to be able to manage people as well as time and workloads);
• Information Technology;
• Local business news (to see if companies are moving into the area – they may need personnel);
• Global business news (how well is the company you work for doing?),
• Knowledge management;
• Business and Project management.

And if you have any spare time left over, universities such as MIT have posted entire courses online. Whilst you won’t be able to “graduate” from MIT, you can do the work and maybe get Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) within an institution of your resident country should you wish to.

======================================================
A Thought to Ponder

“Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.”
David Rockefeller (1915 – )
======================================================