The value of professional development for your career
The world of work is transforming rapidly. New technologies like cloud-based enterprise platforms are changing how, when, and where we work. In addition, advanced automation is also beginning to have an impact on what our job duties are.
Considering these ongoing developments, it’s not surprising if you’re struggling to keep up at work—let alone get ahead. In fact, a 2016 study by Pew Research Center showed that more than a third of U.S. workers—including 27 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher—believed they didn’t possess the skills they needed to advance. Employers around the world agree: 40 percent find it challenging to fill open positions—and that’s in large part due to a lack of candidates with the right technical skills and experience.
Professional development options
The good news is that there are several ways to acquire the skills and knowledge you need. Nevertheless, before enrolling in any educational program, it’s always advisable to have a conversation with your supervisor. Your company may offer internal training opportunities or provide a professional development allowance you can use for external training.
If your company doesn’t provide any training, look for courses that cover the required subject matter, are convenient for your schedule, and match your budget. If you can earn a certification, that’s always a plus.
Professional associations usually offer highly specialized educational options that range from online classes to day-long seminars. Community colleges are also a good option, especially if you want to earn multiple certifications and/or progress toward a two-year degree. There are also numerous online schools that offer everything from management efficiency training to IT certifications to intensive language learning. Last, but certainly not least, there are also massive open online courses (MOOCs) that offer all the educational materials from online courses for free. However, they don’t provide any instruction or certifications.
The impact on your career
If you’re proactive about your professional development, it will almost certainly boost your career prospects. Remember: companies need people who can work with new technology and are agile enough to keep developing their skills. By taking responsibility for acquiring new skills as your job and the workplace evolve, you can greatly increase your employability. Because whether you get certified, attain a new degree, or simply learn new skills online, the fact that you establish yourself as an active learner can help make a strategic difference to your supervisor, coworkers, and the clients you interact with at work.