If you breathed a sigh of relief after writing your final matric paper or tertiary exam, you probably thought that you had left exams and assessments in your (un)happy past. That euphoria lasted only until you discovered that the workplace and life in general is a place of continuous assessment and measurement.

It is a fact that, as an employee, you will continuously be measured on your capabilities and benchmarked against your peers. From psychometrics to talent management tools and climate surveys, there’s always one or other assessment taking place, trying to uncover how to extract the best talents and motivate employees to greater heights while boxing them into a job profile and/or a job description.

Ideally, when assessment in performance management happens, the goalposts are clearly set in your KPA’s and KPI’s but we know that none of these are static and the better you perform the more will be expected of you with higher targets and career growth seen as a mandatory part of skills development.

Most organisations are very good at providing learning opportunities to their employees but they usually do so only if they can see a direct benefit to the organisation. There are few organisations who would allow their employees to study whatever they feel passionate about, regardless of whether their field of study is aligned to the role they perform in their organisation.

The fact remains, though, that to remain employable, we must all take charge of our own personal development. This is easy in theory but a minefield in practice. Apart from production and output competing with skills development, there is that elusive work-life balance that remains unattainable for anyone who is clinging to the higher or lower rungs of the workplace ladder.

The professionals ostensibly charged with playing a leading role in skills development and human resource management are unanimous about the challenges they experience during workplace skills planning. The challenges straddle organisational level as well as at the sector skills planning levels in the SETAs.

Improvement and advancement is supposed to inherently mean being better than we were before, yet we have less time to do those things that make our hearts sing because we’re banking that for the future while we try to keep our heads above water.

As the skills development field changes unrecognisably from the traditional learning to accommodate e-learning and blended learning, we are required to adapt in the knowledge that the only constant is change in lifelong learning.

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