Learning the State Song of Georgia

This article talks about the new trend of companies paying for e-learning of workers they have to lay off. Laid off workers are entitled to vouchers to obtain ?elearning? through a certain vendor. The idea makes perfect sense, and it can do a lot to reassure worried employees that they will be ?taken care of? in the event of layoff. Access to training material and forums is a big obstacle for workers trying to make their skill sets more marketable. And it?s probably a cheap fringe benefit. Decent subscriptions to online learning sites can cost $200 yearly or less, and even if corporations have to pay ? a la carte,? chances are that a lot of workers won?t use up their full elearning credit. Plus, some corporations are entitled to discounts to elearning firms.

It?s funny. When I look at my employment situation, I look at the problem as a skillset problem and not a problem of failing to pound the pavement. Perhaps this is merely a characteristic of the IT industry, but in this day and age, finding employers and jobs is pretty easy (although developing a personal network of contacts still is as hard as it has ever been). The real challenge is ?keeping up? and anticipating new needs. Even workers with good jobs can find themselves becoming specialized in one particular technology that is no longer hot when they need to look for work again. The skillset problem is particularly a problem in the technical documentation industry. There are so many new content areas and publishing tools and programming methods that it is humanly impossible to keep up with it.

That leads to the other question of how to choose what technical skills to acquire. It’s perfectly okay to become proficient in commercial tools (that is, when evaluation versions are available), but should a person in documentation spend a lot of time learning Framemaker when other companies are using Robohelp or Arbortext or nothing that all? The catch-22 is that the IT industry values depth of knowledge instead of breadth, and especially depth in one particular technology. But if the individual has depth in a different technology, well you can just forget it. The job seeker can acquire this one skill, but why? Shouldn?t the job seeker be acquiring general knowledge instead of specialized knowledge? Should a singer learn the state song of Georgia if he lives in Texas? Yes, there is the possibility of getting a gig in Georgia, but there are 49 other state songs to learn as well. So should the singer be learning 50 different songs? Or should the singer be doing voice exercises, singing in different styles and improving breathing techniques?