Recycle your competences

Oliver Šimko

Think What happens to our past knowledge when we change our career profile and requalifiy ourselves for a new one? Can we use it to the benefit for ourselves and other people? The maker’s movement may be the answer.

We live in an environment where most of us are trying to be experts at least one thing. We develop our knowledge day after day. It may look as a virtue thing – to push ourselves through course after course, with aim to build our well honed expertise. Truth is, that our inner motivation often plays a minor role as a trigger for such efforts.

The individual of today is under less visible, but still present pressure of constant developing. It may take shape of legislature changes, employers’ new technological vision, or in a subtle message of academic professor, sent via early morning talkshow.

All in all, the message is always similar. Thrive yourself into learning process and hope that you can keep yourselves attractive for the market, employer or ensure your status in society.

Career changes

With a rapid speed of market / technology development, no one should be surprised when overall changes forces ourselves to shift our learning path to different subjects.

If we go to the point where our career seems un-perspective, we are encouraged to change our career profile and start building a new one, through requalification courses, continues education, non-formal education and so on.

It may sounds ridiculous at this point, but I would like to raise question, what happens with our past experiences, when we decide to change our career from, let’s say, engineer to account? Not often requalification offers to migrate your past knowledge, so, do we have to simply throw our hardly earn expertise over the deck? If yes, we voluntarily give away hours and hours of our learning and self-education that shaped our previous expertise.

Makers’ movement

I would like to put this phenomenon in the perspective of recyclation trend. We try to re-use as many goods as possible. Even if the original purpose of the material was different, we still manage to find another use for it.

What if we look at our knowledge and our previous skills as still valuable “materials”? Plus, if you are the type of person who fell in love with your past expertise but was forced to requalify, there may be a solution for you.

Answer for this could be so called movement of makers – a community, which values and uses share-able materials, expertise, ideas, and of course, knowledge.

What is a makers’ movement?

Makers are extremely passionate people who voluntarily spend their (often) free time developing smart, small, bold, or even groundbreaking ideas. The beauty of DIY projects is nothing new. What brings this topic back to table and especially catches the attention of adult education field, is the nowadays possibility to easily connect these intristically motivated persons together and allows them to join their individual potential.

Voluntary work of a special kind

Where does the makers’ movement stands its ground among other free-time developing activities? Makers’ movement are somehow similar to voluntary social work, community work, political activities, sports associations or parts of non-formal adult education. They are counting on individuals’ empathy, ability to carry things out and self-commitment.

What makers’ movement is adding to this list is that your expertise is highly involved in makers’ activities. That means that in comparison to social, community or political activities, makers’ communities provide small, achievable projects for you, that require also your expertise, not only personal commitment and sense of social responsibility. That offers another way how to develop your competences while being active within community. During the last decade, movement of makers started to spin off through creating various collaborations, possible through sites like instructable.com, or freshly growing makerSQR.com

The benefit for adult learning

Imagine that you can participate in a small weekend project, where you can still apply your previous expertise. Not only you can do a meaningful activity with a relevant impact, but your experience is renewed, refined and reused.

What makers’ communities also offer is a training ground to try and test your newly acquired skills. Therefore it could offer solution for both sides of the “requalification coin”.

And we did not mention the psychological benefits of doing meaningful work where you can use your previously acquired skills and expertise, while being acknowledged and appreciated by your new co-workers, which can be valuable support especially during the requalification process.

To wrap it out, I would like to emphasize, that participation in small projects discovered via makers’ movement may offer good opportunity to re-use our former expertise, earn acknowledgment of uour own unique potential and preserve our past knowledge by keeping it still “in use”.

European InfoNet Adult Education, 16.12.2014