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The Importance Of Professional Development In Difficult Economic Times
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The Importance Of Professional Development In Difficult Economic Times

One of the consequences of recessions is that organisations that are looking to make savings will often cut their training budgets to a minimum and any training that is offered is often only what is statutory like Health and Safety or Equality and Diversity training. With less training from organisations the burden of funding any professional development falls on the individual. The problem is in difficult economic times when many people are struggling with rising prices in household goods, petrol, utilities, rent or mortgages, minimal pay rises or pay freezes professional development is seen as a luxury. And yet even in difficult economic times the importance of professional development should not be underestimated.

So why is it so important?

It’s obvious to most people that the job market has changed considerable over the last twenty years or so and there are no longer ‘jobs for life’ and during poor economic times there is a very real risk of the organisation or company you work for restructuring and shedding staff. You either want to be one of the staff who stays on because you have specialist knowledge and skills that are key to your organisation or you want to have a wide range of up to date skills that will be attractive to other employers and help you land a new job as quickly as possible.

The most successful people are those that make professional development an important part of their working life, embrace change and seek out opportunities to further their skills. You should keep up- to date with the following: (some may not be appropriate to your field of work)

Industry or sector trends

  • You should always be up to date with industry or sector trends. It’s important to know who the major players are, what are they doing, what will they be doing and what are the skills that are in demand. If you lack some of those required skills you need to formulate a professional development plan to address how you can acquire them.

New consumer products

  • What do you know about any new consumer products and their impact? Make sure that if there are new products in your industry that you are fully aware of their capabilities.

Innovative products and /or services

  • You need to be aware of innovations that companies or organisations are offering in terms of products and/or services which would give them a competitive edge.

Developments in production technology

  • Even if you’re working in a company that isn’t involved in developing new production technology you need to know about it and understand the benefits and the impact it’s making or will make in the future.

Customer/client/service user behaviour:

  • There are often changes in customer behaviour and you need to keep abreast of any changes that have recently happened or there is talk of happening in the future due to industry/sector trends or political or economic circumstances.

Financial and legal issues.

  • Are there any financial issues that are going to impact on your industry or sector? For example is there any new legislation being introduced that will impact, or are their changes to funding structures

What professional development should I do?

Some people just hear the word professional development and groan at the thought they might have to attend a staff training day or take on another course and gain a qualification. Of course depending on your skills this may well be the case. You may get help from an employer but if you don’t then it’s up to you to decide whether you have the money to invest in yourself or not.

You should always investigate whether there is any free training. The Open University for example has some short units of learning in a large variety of subjects that can be done for free.

You can also ensure you have up to date information about your sector or industry by reading, specialist publications, books, press reports and taking up any networking opportunities.

The benefits of professional development in hard economic times

Professional development may be one of the last things on your mind but not only do you want to ensure that you have the skills that employers are looking for through the hard times, you also want to be well up to date as things improve. If you’re job hunting it can give you a competitive edge over the other candidates. The fact is that the most successful people always keep on learning and keep professional development at the top of their agenda. Where is it on yours?


Street Talk

You gave some wonderful ideas about improving job skills. I agree with you about the importance of developing skills and being up-to-date about things pertaining to our current job or our future job. When we do that, we become more valuable employees, and sometimes employees who do that end up getting promoted in their organizations or getting better jobs in other companies.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks Sarah for your comments. Yes it's really important to keep on developing.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
AJ  

More people need to stay on top of changes that occur within their profession. It is more important than people realize. Free professional development can come in the form of reading trade magazines / blogs and participating in mastermind groups. Those that don't continue to grow their skills get left behind. Thanks BIS for a thought provoking article.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks AJ - I agree too many people don't realise how important it is and don't realise how much you can learn and evaluate from alternative sources.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Kyle  

I am glad you didn't define this as just "education" in the institutionalized sense. Professional development could mean many different things, but the important aspect is improving your overall skill set. Improving your capabilities to become a better asset to either an employer or yourself, and this doesn't necessarily mean a new piece of paper or a course. It could mean more hands on experience, more self education, etc...

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

I agree with you Kyle. There are so many opportunities to learn outside of a course. If more people embraced that concept they wouldn't be so afraid of professional development.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Kyle  

Yeah, the label of "professional development" just sounds boring. It reminds me of being in a classroom discussing a topic that is very stale, uninteresting and being taught by someone that may or may not be all that qualified to begin. Professional development can truly begin online, and I personally think writing about a subject could be a good entrance into a new skill set. It forces you to research, learn and then educate others.

  
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks, Beverley. You're exactly right. Professional development becomes critical during difficult economic times. blessings, Cynthia

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks Cynthia. I'm a great believer in continuing professional development. It helps to insulate people against those very harsh times.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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