Continuous Learning – Learning Without Scars’ Centers of Excellence
In this week’s installment of our blog on Lifelong Learning, our guest writer Steve Johnson gives us this cutting-edge blog post of the way our education programs are taking shape: Continuous Learning – Learning Without Scars’ Centers of Excellence.
Why continuous learning should matter to you…
The Learning Without Scars website makes the statement that, “we know that ‘better’ is the enemy of ‘best,'” and “that everyone needs the knowledge, skills, and tools to continually elevate their own personal and professional development while contributing to the success of their companies and careers.” Learning Without Scars’ business is all about continuous learning: lifelong learning.
Continuous learning is essential for those employees who want to remain valuable to their employers, and advance both personally and professionally. That’s true whether you are climbing the corporate ladder, developing in-depth expertise in your chosen career field, or just want to be a better-informed human being. There are many reasons for you to invest your time and money in yourself through continuous learning.
Keeping your skills and knowledge current strengthens your value to your employer. If you are not always learning, you’re not even treading water: you’re actually falling behind. In any work environment, development of new information and technology is rapid, and that pace keeps accelerating. At some point in the future, you could find out that management no longer feels you are relevant to attaining the company’s goals. You could find out that the job market feels the same about your resume.
Continuous learning provides you with more professional resilience both at your company and in the broader business environment and marketplace. It ensures that you have or obtain not only the knowledge and skills requirements for your current job, but also lays the foundation for the next steps in your career path. It can help you stand out among your peers as an important part of the future of your company. It’s not a bad thing to be one of the “go to” people. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your company and lose the big picture of the environment and markets within which you work. Continuous learning can ensure that you exit that cocoon and keep informed of current trends as well as what may be impacting you in the future.
Your company may be an excellent source for continuous learning, especially in such areas as company culture, products, IT systems, and best practices. They may have both formal and informal opportunities to develop your interpersonal and management skills. It makes good sense to pay attention in your day-to-day work for learning moments, and also for occasions where you can get out of your comfort zone and learn. Networking in your company will allow you to track the pulse of important activities, events and company direction. Networking through professional and industry organizations will give you a feel for the pulse of your industry and the economic environment.
Take advantage of it when companies offer to enroll you in formal training, within or from outside the company. Alternatively, you can seek out specific education that aligns with your individual needs and goals. For example, I’ve read that many consider one’s personal oral and written communication skills to be critical to career success, and the importance of those skills increases as people pursue their career paths. Maybe “Toastmasters” is in your future.
Learning Without Scars’ Centers of Excellence
Our efforts to encourage greater continuous learning in the industries we serve continue. A recent focus for Learning Without Scars is developing relationships with public higher learning institutions where these schools will also function as our Centers of Excellence (COE).
Online, you will find a number of definitions for a COE. Wikipedia says it is a “team, a shared facility or an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research and support or training for a focus area.” It also can be a “network of institutions collaborating with each other to pursue excellence in a particular area.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a COE as “a place or an organization that is known for doing a particular activity very well, and that is involved in new developments, new ways of working, etc.” We can add to the above, but I think you get the idea. Learning Without Scars is working to develop a network of schools to achieve the above goals and offer excellence in delivering education where it is needed.
Our plan is to have ten of these Centers in the U.S. and Canada. Courses include new online certification programs offering comprehensive content in equipment dealer parts management and service management. The courses are applicable for heavy equipment dealers, including construction, heavy truck, mining, forestry, light industrial, and agriculture. We are working to soon provide automotive aligned versions of the programs. In the near future, we will also be able to provide dealer sales and marketing programs. Benefits of the new programs include:
- High quality comprehensive curricula from a well-known industry expert; accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET); and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
- Content that is current and reviewed annually with IACET.
- Assessments are delivered throughout the learning process to measure learning progress.
- A Learning Management System available to dealer employees/students that allows both self-paced progress and 24/7 access to courses.
- Programs that result in industry credentials to employees and students upon successful completion.
As a final note, make continuous learning intentional and give it high priority. Continuous learning is your responsibility, not the responsibility of your company, your supervisor or anyone else. To be able to effectively manage your career, you need to plan your future, that is, identify your goals and chart your path for reaching those goals. An important part of that path is going to be continuous learning. Plan your educational future now. In doing that, we encourage you to explore educational opportunities at Learning Without Scars for high quality industry- and position-specific education.
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