A pay-check alone won't get you there

In Touch - Newsletter - #22

Welcome to the twenty-second edition of "In Touch." As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit "reply" and let me know what you think.

Story of the Week: A pay-check alone won't get you there

My friend Max, who has been based in Switzerland for the past 11 years, recently found himself unemployed. Hit hard by the impact of the pandemic, the company he worked for, felt obliged to reduce its workforce by half and, as it turned out, he was one of those who lost their job.

"Thankfully," he told me, "I can apply for unemployment benefit, so my family and I won’t go hungry".

"That's great", I replied, though having in mind that, in most countries, this benefit consists of financial assistance for a period of six months or so, I asked Max if Switzerland offered anything more. I was impressed by his answer. 

He told me that the Swiss government expects every unemployed person to submit several job applications per month and to attend training courses in order to brush up their skills or gain new ones. In his specific case, he was offered a programme that included workshops, personal coaching and an intensive course aimed at perfecting his fluency in French.

Max found himself with a demanding ‘boss’ (part of his ‘homework’, for example, was to conduct research into the key people behind successful Fintech companies) but, despite being without a job, he felt positive because he was receiving guidance and mentorship on how to create new opportunities for himself, which will hopefully lead to the next stage of his professional career.

The Swiss government clearly understands that it is necessary but not enough to merely ‘sponsor’ the unemployed with a monthly cheque. Great emphasis is given to mentoring, training and, essentially, ensuring that they will not only return to work but will be even better equipped and robust than they were before they were laid off. In the medium to long term, such guidance and help will surely prove to be more valuable than any amount of monetary assistance. 

There’s a well-known saying, the wisdom of which continues to resonate today: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” The authorities in Switzerland clearly believe in what we now usually refer to as ‘upskilling’ or ‘reskilling’ people in the ever-changing 21st century work environment.

Many other governments have also adopted this philosophy and are encouraging their citizens to see the value of lifelong learning. I can assure you from my own experience that there is an infinite amount of useful knowledge out there and the more we have, the greater our chances of improving our personal and professional situation will be.

Words of Wisdom

On life-long learning:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Alvin Toffler, Write, Futurist, Businessman

The key to "going places":

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss, Author

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“Which skills do you need to develop right now so you can maintain or grow your career?”

Hit reply and let me know.


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