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Get rid of the ‘diploma disease’ in pursuit of further education

Many people go to school for certificates to boost careers or secure employment but not improving skills. FOTOSEARCH
Many people go to school for certificates to boost careers or secure employment but not improving skills. FOTOSEARCH 

One of the challenges of the current education system is that it is seen as an employment tool and is finite. Most people go to school to get a certificate that will hopefully boost their chances of employment with their next job application.

Many others see a PhD as the peak of learning, after which they can heave a sigh of relief, “Phew! I am done”.

Mercifully, there is a handful that sees education for what it really is-meant for empowerment (not employment) and infinite — there is always room to learn something new. The progressive salesperson is among this lot.

Many employers will do their best and take the sales team for training and yes that is commendable and is to be fostered. Learning, however, must be reinforced to be instilled.

We take the skills of reading and writing for granted but they took years of practise before becoming second nature — thankfully, the school system already has this factored in.

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The progressive salesperson knows the importance of reinforcing learning — so one will not wait for the next training session, lamenting with the mediocre ones that “we need to be taken for more training”. No.

One will expand one’s knowledge base considerably by, for example, understudying a salesperson one admires in one’s team, networking with salespeople outside one’s industry and exchange notes on tried and tested methods that have yielded success in the field, having informal sessions with customers to find out ways to improve, scouring the Internet for skills to boost one’s abilities as well as thirst for a trickling of knowledge like one would for drops of water in a desert.

Such knowledge deeply enriches salesperson-prospect interaction.

Selling is a profession. And like any other profession, those who choose it don’t qualify, then practice, and then put on the brakes to learning. No. They study continually, attend seminars relevant to their chosen field, train, subscribe to newsletters and read reports on the latest industry trends.

For them learning is constant and never ending. And why? Because, when we stop learning and practising the knowledge atrophies.

Just like with the advent of the computer (and therefore typing) you and I find it harder and harder to write at length with a pen — something we did with ease when it was the only way of communicating in literal fashion.

One of the challenges adult education has, training being an example, is that the students’ frame of mind is set in a form of education that was meant for examination, not implementation.

So notes are discarded after class ends, some are even left in class and others discovered years later, when moving house, stashed on a dusty shelf. After all, there wasn’t going to be a continuous assessment test or national examination to evaluate what we learnt, so why bother studying?!

Certificates are quickly photocopied to supplement the existing job applications and the title of the seminar even quicker still, inserted in the CV, especially if the training is from a reputable training firm.

Unfortunately, only a few generals emerge from this horde of soldiers and do what the seminar intended — implementation of what was learnt.

New knowledge implies a different way of doing things. It means a replenishment of our reservoir of knowledge and remaining relevant. But only if implemented.

Even we writers many times get our inspiration to do so from reading widely. Education is infinite and as cliché as it sounds, when we stop learning, we die — not in the physical way, but worse still, the relevance way.

The realisation that our childhood learning does not dovetail adult education should move us to change and embrace learning for implementation — not examination.

Education remains with you, it’s an investment in yourself whether you remain with your employer or not. Educate yourself continually.

Mr Kageche is lead facilitator at Lend Me Your Ears, a sales and speaker training firm. Email:[email protected]

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