Why you should build a skill set

People build skills and accumulate abilities to make a living off of that. / Net photo.

Many people around the world were affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Some lost their jobs, some jobs were ‘put on hold’, others had to take pay cuts and et cetera. Some people’s career paths took a turn, requiring them to go into business and utilise their skills.

Pax Elisee Mfura, an entrepreneur, believes that some of the start-ups during lockdown where from people who were probably laid off or had to take an involuntary break from normal work. 


And so, he says, having had more than just one skill; these people were able to earn a living from their other abilities.


“We build skills and accumulate abilities to make a living off of that. When we get to work, we present what we are capable of and get paid for that. It is okay to rely on the one skill you have, but your skill might be out of demand or not relevant for a season,” he notes.



You are more than just one skill

Not only do multi skills increase your employability prospects, they make you stand out. Personal development should be an ongoing process. We tend to get so comfortable in our positions that we neglect to work towards improving our overall quality of life. 

Mfura believes that it’s necessary to develop more than one skill in this fast-moving world; and that it is hard to know which one will be of help at some point.

He adds that it’s also good to have more than one source of income, and this can be made possible by putting your different skills to use.

Francis Mwangi, a lecturer at Mount Kenya University teaching human resource management, says multi-skills is very important in this era.

He says that the environment this pandemic has created can be described by the acronym ‘VUCA’ because it is economically volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

“From a human resource management perspective, being multi-skilled is beneficial to both an employer and an employee. The organisation benefits from a workforce that can be adaptable and flexibly deployed as the need arises, hence achieving optimal utilisation of talent,” he says.

At a personal level, Mwangi says employees who have a wide range of skills such as writing, sales, IT, analysis, to mention a few, have increased job security and career development prospects. 

According to the lecturer, such an employee will not worry too much about being laid off from employment because if that happens, they have options; for example, going into business, freelancing, blogging or consultancy.

Prince Aime Murara, the deputy secretary-general, Education for Nations and Humanitarian Africa (ENHA)-Girubuntu, says with career choices, sometimes things get reversed and it’s not that easy to unleash the necessary adaptation, unless one has another package to support them down the road.

For instance, he mentions that job instability went up in this period of the pandemic, and that the worst of burdens came to people who hadn’t preserved some other skills to back them up.

“It’s not that easy for sure as one is afraid that failure is upfront, but however, the critical importance proves itself regardless of the situation,” he says.

Back in the day, he says, he was motivated by some of his mentors to try out everything, especially having the power of exploiting opportunities without being stopped by any limitation. Moreover, he says, possessing various skills in different fields is fun.

“You won’t have to call experts all the time. It’s not that complicated to just install your phone’s screen protector without having to call your technician for that,” he says.

Murara says as the clock never stops ticking, adding that learning skills starting from a younger age is crucial, compared to when you’re older.


Festus Irungu, a lecturer at Mount Kenya University, says a multi-skilled worker has many benefits, not only to themselves but to the organisation as well.

On the individual’s side, he says, a multi-skilled worker is motivated, in case of retrenchment, he/she is in a better position to be retained, compared to a specialised worker. 

On the organisation’s part, he says, the company saves costs since they don’t need many workers when they have multi-skilled ones; they use less in training and are assured of quality.

Irungu says a skilled worker has the ability and confidence to achieve the organisation’s goals.

“A versatile employee is able to engage others well, he/she has the right mind-set and right management and leadership skills,” he adds.

In his field of training (media), Irungu says the multi-skilled worker is becoming a must.

For instance, he points out that media and PR organisations want people who can do a TV  story, write an online story, write a radio story and if they have print, the same. 

Having editing skills in audio, visual and writing is a bonus, he notes.

Othaniel Nimbabazi, a youth leader and human-centered designer, says in today’s fast-changing world, knowing more than one skill is something beneficial and essential for career advancement.

“When you learn new skills it opens the gate to various opportunities like promotion, an additional source of income, and also depending on the sector, new skills can help you understand the challenges better, hence, develop innovative solutions,” he says.

Nimbabazi says more than one skill makes one adaptable to change in the industry, be it from technology advancing to company reshuffle and, also keeps one relevant to the labour market.

He further observes that having more than one skill is a requirement for graduates as well as those who are already working, and on top of this, being able to learn new skills makes one work with optimism and self-confidence that allows them to have personal and career development goals and achievements.


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