Work in a small firm with no training policy? Want to boost your career but get few opportunities? The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's Jessica Rolph can help
Competition and the pace of change mean that as the nature of work continuously evolves, so do the skills that employers need. But with few people being offered a job for life, workers have to take responsibility for driving their own career progression.

Problems with training are particularly severe in construction owing to the degree of fragmentation in the industry: 96% of construction companies employ 13 or fewer workers. A survey by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development a couple of years ago called Who Learns at Work? found that those working in small businesses are more likely to feel they are offered insufficient training opportunities. The answer is to be even more active in building up your skills to ensure that you safeguard your employability.

So what can you do? First, you need to think through different options for career progression. The following questions may help to set goals and find ways to achieve them:

  • What are the next steps you would like to take in your career?
  • Are there any particular skills, qualifications or experience you will need if you want to be doing that kind of job?
  • What are your options in terms of gaining experience or developing skills?

Once you have some firm ideas about some career goals and the types of skills you need to develop, it will be much easier to have a constructive conversation with your supervisor about training options. Raising these issues shows that you are motivated and committed to improving your skills.

Raising issues about your career development shows that you are motivated and committed to improving your skills

But what if your employer does not offer the training you need? The key is to persuade them that your skills development will benefit the firm. Are there any areas where you are keen to develop and where there is also a lack of skills in the company? If you can demonstrate how your training can fit in with business plans or performance improvements, you will be much more likely to gain support from your employer.

Remember that training need not always involve expensive and time-consuming courses. There are cost-effective ways of developing skills, such as on-the-job training or shadowing colleagues. However, this type of informal learning must be properly planned. It helps to have a training schedule, a list of goals and a method to assess progress. Above all, make sure you and your trainer reduce your normal workloads to compensate for training time.