Know the total cost of learning a new akill
The only things certain in life are change, taxes, and death. As individuals, we can’t do much about the latter two, but as far as change is concerned, we certainly can. Innovations and technological developments mean that those who don’t adapt could find career advancement more difficult in the long term. But there are so many things one can learn online that it’s become increasingly difficult to decide which ones should be prioritised, and which can wait.
Yes, there are (some) free lunches
There are things you can learn, either through someone you know, or online at little or no financial cost. Then there’s the elephant in the room – courses that enhance your skills but cost a mint of money. But for now, here are some ways to learn skills for free:
- ALISON – One of the few places on the web where you can earn a diploma or certificate, as long as you complete all modules and score at least 80 per cent in your course assessments.
- Coursera – Their lectures and non-graded materials are free, but if you want graded assignments and a certificate, you will need to pay a fee.
- Udemy – This has a library of thousands of courses from experts and instructors, which has video and reading materials, and the facility to leave messages for the instructor. But all this comes for a price and helps you build your expertise .
- Open Education Database – Choose from degree levels, categories, and subjects from over 10,000 online classes that are relevant in the workplace.
- Skillshare – Created by industry professionals and experts, every course has a project where students can learn, and share their work.
- Duolingo – This language-learning platform uses games to earn points for correct answers and to move through different levels. All speaking, listening, translation, and multiple-choice challenges are graded instantly, so you can measure your progress straightaway.
- The Culinary Cook – You’ll find answers to all your kitchen-related questions with a detailed breakdown of procedures, cookware, and cooking tips here.
The elephant in the room
Coming back to our elephant in the room, consideration must be given to the options available, as well as the cost of financing them. Most people’s thoughts immediately turn towards an MBA or equivalent, though it could also be a certificate or diploma in a number of fields.
This is where Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) comes into play. It’s an easy way of weighing the benefits of a course of action and comparing these with the associated costs. The ‘payback period’ – that is, the time it takes for benefits to repay costs – ideally shouldn’t be more than five years. This is a simple and quick way to assess financial decisions.
More robust approaches – such as Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR) – are used for more complex, business-critical, or high-cost decisions.
Steps to the CBA
If you’re serious about pursuing a new course to enhance your skills, follow these steps:
1. Brainstorm costs and benefits –Make a list of all the costs associated with the time taken to complete the course and do the same for the benefits, while making a provision for unexpected costs.
2. Assign monetary values to the costs – It’s important to include as many related costs as you can ,over the course of learning the skill. The estimate should take in account the costs that you may continue to incur even after you finish the course. It may, for example, take time to find appropriate employment.
3. Assign monetary values to the benefits – This step is less straightforward because it’s often very difficult to predict the jump in salary accurately. Secondly, along with the financial benefits, there are often intangible benefits to your decision. It’s important to consult people who have been through the grind to decide how to value these intangibles.
4. Compare costs and benefits – Finally, compare the value of your costs to the value of your benefits, and use this analysis to decide your course of action. Consider the payback time and make a decision if the investment you’re going to make is worthwhile. The payback period is calculated thus: Payback Period = Total Cost / Total Benefits
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When it comes to enhancing your personal skills and capabilities, money is an enabler. The more difficult question to answer is whether it’s going to be financially worthwhile. Besides talking with your family, it’s always a good idea to consult a financial planner, an industry expert, and a recruitment specialist you know personally to understand the market realities and intangibles before finalising your choice. And when you do, HDFC Bank is there to make your dream a reality.
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* Terms & conditions apply. Personal Loan disbursal at sole discretion of HDFC Bank Ltd. * The information provided in this article is generic in nature and for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances.