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Professional Development: Everything You Need To Know

What is Professional Development?

If you or your staff are in need of new work-related skills, it might be time to consider pursuing professional development training. It’s a great way to add qualifications to your resume or simply refresh yourself on some of the skills you learned previously. Whether you take classes online or at a seminar, there are many flexible alternatives for busy schedules. Many professional development providers will even bring the training right to your work place, offering a cost-effective and convenient option for managers to create a customized training for the entire staff.

In basic terms, professional development can be defined as a variety of specialized learning initiatives that are meant to advance an individual’s professional knowledge and competence in any given area or field. Professional development classes exist in almost every field, from computer and IT training to management development and team leading classes. While some classes require previous knowledge in a subject to be successful, others allow participants with any level of prior experience to join.

In general, professional development is undertaken by individuals who are interested in advancing in their career or in their current role. On the other hand, professional development training is also a great way for individuals interested in changing career tracks to get the start they need. It is not always practical to go back and study for a whole new undergraduate degree, especially if you are trying to juggle a work-life balance at the same time. Professional development training, however, offers the chance to retrain in a new field, and add the experience to your resume to land your new dream job.

Lastly, it is also used by companies to boost the morale and performance of their employees. When employees are engaged, it is proven that they are more likely to stay with the company and more engaged in their daily work. Therefore, it is a win for both the employer and the employed. The return on investment is immediately recognizable. Turnover will begin to decrease while production increases. It’s every manager’s dream.

Continue reading to learn more about the different types of professional development training and how it can benefit you or your company.

Delivery of Professional Development

One of the primary reasons individuals decide to forego professional development training is because they falsely assume it will not fit into their schedule. However, this is one of the main professional development myths. The truth is that a plethora of professional development opportunities exist to meet the needs of busy professionals.

Professional development is offered in many different ways. There are pros and cons to each format depending on the number of participants you are looking to train, how busy your schedule is, and the skills you are trying to develop. The key delivery formats for professional development include: 

  1. Classroom / Public
  2. On-site / Company-specific
  3. E-learning
  4. Live Webinar 

Classroom / Public Training

Classroom / public classes are one of the most traditional and common professional training formats. Classroom / public training classes are usually pre-scheduled by training providers and offered in various set locations around the country.

This type of training format is very popular for individuals looking to enroll in a course because they have the ability to browse classes by location, length and price before they sign up for the best class that suit their personal and professional needs. 

These classes are usually delivered in a classroom or lecture-type setting, creating the ideal environment for learning. Classes are often lead by one or more expert instructors, giving participants the opportunity to ask questions and gain direct feedback throughout the course. 

In addition, classroom / public training classes provide learners with the opportunity to interact and network with other professionals, allowing them the chance to learn from others who may work in similar fields as them.

On-site / Company-specific

On-site / company-specific training is the top training option for companies or organizations looking to train multiple employees on a specific topic.

With this type of training, providers will come directly to your location to deliver the course. This saves you and your employees both time and money on travel. 

In addition, on-site training providers will normally format the training to meet your individual needs. This ensures that your employees are learning only practical information that is not only directed to their field of work but their company as well. 

Company-specific training providers are usually willing to work with you when it comes to the price and length of the course. Normally they will provide a quote depending on the amount of people that are going to be trained along with other factors such as travel distance, course length, etc. 

E-learning

For many professionals, it can be hard to find the time needed to undergo training unless your company directly allocates for it. For this reason, many people are turning to e-learning as their preferred training method. 

Since almost everyone has access to technology at almost all times of the day - whether it be a smartphone, tablet or computer - professional learning can now occur at almost any time and in any location. 

Most e-learning courses are self-paced, meaning you can create your own learning schedule. This is optimal for professionals because it gives them the flexibility to fit in their training around their busy schedules. In addition, it gives learners the opportunity to go back and review course material whenever necessary. 

Another benefit to e-learning is that it is cost-effective. If you are on a budget, then this is definitely the way to go. Because there is less overhead cost to pay for a location and an instructor, providers can make e-learning classes their cheapest alternative, while still providing all of the necessary skills and information that a regular public class would offer.

However, e-learning is not for everyone. Classroom and company-specific training classes are beneficial because they allocate a specific time and place that is dedicated to learning and developing new skills. With e-learning, on the other hand, the learner needs to be accountable and take the time to engage with the material. That being said, you are usually given direct contact with an instructor which allows you to still ask any questions or for help if needed. At the end of the training, trainers will often still provide feedback to individuals based on the work they handed in over the length of the class.

Live Webinar 

Due to technology like Skype, Face-Time, Zoom, and other video conference tools, top training providers are now beginning to deliver live training anywhere with the click of a mouse. Therefore, geography can no longer be used as an excuse not to undergo training thanks to live webinar options. With a live webinar training, employees can log in from anywhere and start getting the training they need.

Live webinar training is the perfect option for companies who seek to combine the accessibility of e-learning with the personalization of classroom and on-site training.  

Furthermore, this is a viable option for both companies who want to train multiple employees, along with individuals who want to benefit from a one-on-one session. Many live webinars also have chat functions which allows participants to ask questions and engage with the course material just like they would if they were sitting in a classroom. Plus, some webinars can also be recorded so that companies can continue using the material or individuals can go back and relearn what they might have missed the first time.

Pursue Professional Development Training!

Professional Development Categories

Whether you just need a refresher on some of the more complex skills required by your position or you want to change career tracks entirely, there are professional development opportunities to fit any need. Even if they’re not directly related to your current role, learning new skills is a great way to keep your mind fresh and to stay relevant within the company, especially if you want to catch your employer’s attention for when the next promotion comes up.

But, make sure to check the class requirements before signing up. While some trainings are open to everyone, others require previous knowledge or experience in a particular field. That being said, there are also a variety of beginner classes available if you want to learn the foundational knowledge of a whole new subject.

In today’s fast-paced, globalized world, entire fields and professions are constantly changing. Therefore, the professional development opportunities are endless. Here is a list of some of the most common professional development categories to get started.

Auditing and Quality Management - Auditing and quality management is an examination or inspection that is done to ensure companies and organizations are compliant with certain requirements and regulations. Laws are always changing and developing. For that reason, it is crucial that auditors stay up to date on best practices and rules on different types of auditing. Therefore, many companies require that their auditors take professional development classes to always be on top of the latest development and trends in the field. 

Business and Management - Business and management training are amongst the most popular and can cover a wide variety of topics. Business classes will deal with anything from business innovation and change management to business analytics and business continuity. Class content is usually specific in nature, meaning that individuals are expected to leave with a particular skill that they can readily apply to their current company.  

Certification Development – If you have ever wondered who decides what is necessary to get certified in a specific field or skilled, consider taking a professional development class in certification development. The primary goal of the training will be to learn the necessary skills to develop certifications. It’s an important task given the number of available certifications out there and the number of people taking them.

Certification Training – From first aid to Microsoft Office, there are a plethora of certifications that can be applied to any job or career. A certification is a great way to boost a resume and impress your employers. Plus, many base-level certifications can be obtained without having to dedicate a large amount of time, making it the perfect solution for professionals with busy schedules.

Coaching – We all have mentors at work who help us realize our full potential and discover our career dreams. Oftentimes, these mentors have undergone coaching training which has honed their skills to coach individuals and allowed them to give the excellent career advice that they do. Whether you currently lead a team, or you’re interested in doing so in the future, coaching classes are a great way to help both the strongest and weakest members on the team.

Communication Skills – Communication is harder than you think. Every day we write emails and conduct meetings without thinking that it takes great communication skills to achieve our objectives. Most people can communicate the necessities, but it takes special talent to use communication skills to persuade, reason, sympathize, or defend successfully. In today’s global market, communication skills can also be used to facilitate cross-cultural communication.

Construction – Whether you want to learn site management skills or need the latest OSHA training, professional development within the field of construction is a great way to promote professionalism and safety on any construction site. There are also practical classes in case you also feel like learning a new skill like laying concrete or woodworking.

Customer Service – Just imagine how many poor customer service experiences you have had that could easily have been avoided if someone had the necessary training. It’s not easy communicating with people all day, especially in the retail and restaurant industries. However, a customer service training can easily help you manage even the most difficult customers. Learn about proper phone etiquette or conflict resolution techniques to make your daily interactions as best they can be.

Data Analysis – Data analysts exist in almost every field to predict future trends and analyze the results of past decisions. However, given technological trends and the fast-paced growth in the field, data analysis requires constant training to stay up to date. Professional development in the field of data analysis is, therefore, the perfect solution for those looking to break into the field or for those who have been in the game for a long time.

Design – Design principles are behind everything we use on a daily basis. Whether it’s your toothbrush, your office chair, or your car, a designer played a significant role in its creation. Learn more about the thought that goes behind designing things and gain practical design experience which you can apply to a variety of fields, including user experience design or interior design.

Professional Development in Design

Education – If you have a passion for helping others, maybe you have thought of becoming an educator, or perhaps you already are one! Either way, being in the education field means always pursuing professional development. Many schools require that their educators participate in a set number of classes per year to make sure they are up to date on the latest teaching trends and issues facing students. Get your training credit by taking a professional development training in education today!

Engineering and Maintenance – Learn about the newest technologies and develop your skills in an engineering professional development course. Possible topics to be covered include forklift operating, maintenance management, and financial management for engineers. There are also a variety of industry-specific courses. So, whether you’re an aerospace engineer or a civil engineer, there are courses just for your benefit.

Executive Education – If you want to make it to the top of the career ladder, professional development is key. There are a variety of classes made specifically for executives and upper-management to reach the top. Trainings give industry-related advice on how to lead organizations successfully. There are also classes for women in leadership and executives in sales.

Finance – The handling and management of money can be a difficult task, even for the most seasoned financial advisors. Whether or not your job description directly relates to your organization’s finances, financial professional development can be useful for any individual. With a shortage of talent in the field, it’s also a great choice for a career change. But first, you need to get the necessary training.

Gamification – If you have troubles engaging your staff, or you’re just looking for a fun way to conduct trainings, gamification classes are the perfect choice. Have some fun at work and create enjoyable ways to revitalize the workplace while delivering important information and training. Your employees will be thankful that you took the gamification training when they’ve attained all the necessary information without even realizing it.

Health and safety – No matter where you work, a safe work environment is essential. Health and safety classes include CPR training, construction safety, and food safety training. While some are industry-specific, there are many more that can be applied to any job or field.

Professional Development in Healthcare

Healthcare – The healthcare field requires that practitioners are always up to date on the most recent medical issues and discoveries. Therefore, a variety of professional development trainings exist to assist healthcare employees receive the training they need to provide their patients with the best care possible.

Hospitality and Tourism – Creating the best experience for guests doesn’t always come easy. Whether you work in a five-star hotel or an up and coming restaurant, there’s a lot to learn in the field of hospitality and tourism. If it’s been awhile since your studies, and you need some refreshers, consider a training in hospitality sales or conference management.

Human Resources – It’s no easy task to help jeep an organization running efficiently and effectively. Human resource professionals play an integral role in recruiting and developing the necessary talent to run a company. That being said, HR professionals understand the importance of professional development best of all. Take a management certificate training or a risk management class to take your career further.

IT – Today, we rely on computers more than anything. But, we also rely on the experts who build, maintain, and fix those computers, their programming, and their hardware. IT experts are in high-demand around the world, so if you’re looking for a career change or a promotion, consider IT training. Once you understand the basics, you’ll be ready to start on a rewarding career path that could take you anywhere in the world!

Languages – Language skills are amongst the most sought after by employers across fields. No matter the industry, there is a need for individuals who can speak across language barriers and communicate with customers and clients from around the globe. A language class is a great way to get started on the path to fluency. Whether it’s Spanish, French, German, or Japanese, you’ll impress employers with your newly acquired language skills.

Law and Legal – Keeping up with new and updated laws is no easy task. Make the challenge a little easier by participating in law and legal training. Whether you need a refresher on international law, medical record law, or business law, there’s a class that’s suited just for you.

Leadership – If you want upper-level management to notice you, consider professional leadership development training. Whether or not you are already managing a team, a leadership class will equip you with the skills necessary to successfully manage others. So, before your next review, boost your resume with a leadership training to prove to your boss you’re ready for the promotion and deserve a pay raise.

Professional Development in Leadership

Marketing – We are bombarded with media every day, most of which we forget within seconds. But, if you really want your message to stand out, take a marketing class to learn the tips and tricks from professionals in the field. There are trainings in fashion marketing, branding, and digital marketing, to name a few. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a marketing class suited to your needs.

Project management – Every organization needs a core group of individuals they can rely upon to manage teams and important projects. Project management is, therefore, a great thing to put on a resume if you want to catch an employer’s attention. Take a class to learn the essentials of being a great project manager, so that you’re ready to impress when the next project comes up at work.

Real Estate – There are many career prospects within the field of real estate. All it takes is the right qualifications to demonstrate that you have what it takes to make it in the field. There are real estate classes that cover a variety of topics including contract writing, office management, and real estate law.

Sales – Whether you’re a natural at selling or not, there’s always room for improvement. Learn the best sales techniques from the experts to gain the necessary tools to make it as a top seller. Learn about sales strategies, sales pitches, and closing the deal in a number of different professional development classes geared towards sales professionals.

Software / Web Development – From beginner to expert, there are web development classes for anyone interested in a fast-growing field with high earning potential. Learn the ins and outs of software maintenance, development, and engineering through one of the many classes offered to professionals.

Supply Chain – If you’re up for a challenge then perhaps supply chain management is your calling. Learn more about the resources, organizations, and technologies that must come together to produce and deliver the products we use on a daily basis. Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned professional, you can kickstart your career with a supply chain professional development class.

Training Delivery – At the heart of every professional development class is a trainer who has learned the skills necessary to deliver a great training. It’s not easy work, which is why you need to know the professional tips and tricks to be successful. Take a class on training delivery to learn more about what it takes to deliver a stunning class.

Workforce Development – If you feel like your employees are starting to fall behind and tasks are being neglected, consider an in-house workforce development training. Boost creativity, raise your quality standards, and get your teams to start working together to truly make your organization shine. Plus, employee engagement is one of the best returns on investment!

Professional Development in Workforce Development

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Benefits of Professional Development

Employee learning is a crucial element when it comes to supporting talent and driving organizations forward. Research shows that companies without staff engaged in learning are twice as likely to lose staff before three years.

According to the U.S. L&D Report: 2018, almost half of the professionals who indicated their employees were highly engaged in learning were also highly engaged overall in the organization. In addition, companies who tracked their training efforts experienced growth in the last financial year.

For many years, the value of professional development has been overlooked. Due to new research pointing out the value of learning, companies and individuals are finally starting to see the benefits associated with investing in professional development. So, don’t fall behind the trend, engage your employees with meaningful training to get a great return on investment while also delivering high quality professional development which adds value to both the individual and the organization.

Benefits of Professional Development for Individuals

The competition is fierce when it comes to finding a fulfilling job within your industry. Therefore, it’s becoming more and more important for individuals to stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs. One of the top ways this can be done is through professional development.

Putting professional development training on your resume immediately sets you apart from other applicants and catches employers’ attention! So, if you want to land that interview for your dream job, make sure you have the necessary training to get you seen. 

In addition, undergoing professional development can have a major impact on your current job, state-of-mind and overall performance. Not only are you more engaged in your job, you also become more passionate about the work you are doing.

It is easy to become trapped in your career. Professional development breaks things up and keeps individuals moving forward.

Here are some potential benefits that professional development can have on individuals:

  • Learn new skills
  • Networking opportunities
  • Prevent burnout 
  • Re-motivate one toward work
  • Stay up-to-date with latest industry practices

Benefits of Professional Development for Companies

Training is a key factor when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Employees are more likely to perform at a higher level and feel engaged in their work if they are given the opportunity to grow professionally and develop in their role.

Having motivated and passionate employees directly impacts the performance of a company as a whole. A happy and more productive workforce leads to a better bottom line - simple as that. That’s why professional development is considered one of the best returns on investment, because at the end of the day, you will have more skilled workers and lower turnover rates.

Here are some potential benefits of professional development on companies:

  • Improves the company brand
  • Attracts candidates
  • Keeps employees motivated and satisfied
  • Enhances company knowledge
  • Ensures your operating up-to-date with the latest trends
  • Increases retention
  • Improves efficiency 

Choose the Right Professional Development Provider

Choosing a Training Company 

Choosing the right training provider for yourself or your organization can be overwhelming. Sometimes it may seem like you have too many companies trying to catch your attention, all of which claim to be the best in their field. Other times, it can feel like you can't find anyone who offers the exact training you need or the level of quality you are looking for.

 

Here are some tips on how to help you choose not only the best training company, but the right one to fit your specific needs. 

How do I choose a training company for myself? 

Determine your goals

In order to find the best training company to suite your needs, you need to start by determining what is most important for your professional development. Get a clear picture in your mind of the goals you want to achieve before you start searching. This will help you eliminate courses quicker during your search.

Choose a search engine

Word of mouth and traditional search engines (such as Google) are definitely viable options when it comes to finding a course. However, with these methods, it is hard to compare different choices. Individuals tend to just settle and choose the provider that they find or hear about first - unaware that there is a plethora of other options available. 

When you look for a course using a search engine like findcourses.com you can instantly filter down your search to find exactly what you are looking for. You can start by selecting your category, course format and location to get a good overview of what is offered in your area. 

Then you can go as far as to sort by price and course length. This way you don't waste your time reading about courses that aren't suitable for your budget. 

Not only does this save you tons of time looking for a course but it also allows you to compare multiple courses in one location in a quick and easy way. 

In addition, every course has an information request form so that you can contact the providers with any additional questions that you may have without having to hunt around for the contact information. 

Ask the right questions

When you find a course that suites your needs, don't book it right away. Always make sure you take the time to check terms and conditions and speak with the provider directly. You don't want to get stuck enrolling in a course that you can't cancel if you need to. 

You also want to make sure that the provider is going to deliver the results that they are promising.

Some of the best questions to ask a training provider before booking include: 

  • How have you helped past participants?
  • What support do you provide? 
  • How does your cancellation policy work? 

Look at reviews

The best way to gauge if a training company is right for you is by looking at the reviews. Hearing about other people’s experience can help you know what to expect and how the training company has been received in the past. 

How do I choose a training company for my staff? 

Determine your organizations training needs

Booking professional development training for staff can be trickier then booking it for yourself. Instead of just worrying about what you want to get out if it, you have to think about the group as a whole.

For this reason, it is first good to determine what your training needs are and what you hope your staff can achieve by the end of the training.

It is also good to keep your company values in-mind when choosing a training provider. You’re inviting someone in to influence the ways your employees operate. Therefore, it is important that they share the same values as you and are in-line with your principles.

Determine the best format for everyone

It is no secret that everyone learns differently. Some people are very hands-on and value live instruction, while others would much rather do it themselves and take an online course. There is no wrong way to learn. 

Take a poll and see what the majority would prefer. Your employees will appreciate that they were included in the decision and hopefully this will help ensure better learning results in the end. 

Find a training provider based on your needs

Don't settle for the first training provider that pops up in your search. Now that you have determined your needs, you can make a select and filtered search using a search engine that has been specifically designed to help you find a qualified training provider. 

Using a search engine like findcourses.com will allow you filter and compare training providers easier and faster. You can filter by your subject, category, price, location, length and format to get a clear list of providers that will work for you. 

Once you have narrowed down your search, you can compare training providers side by side to ensure that you are choosing one that aligns with your values and meets your needs. 

Check a training providers website

Take a look at the website of the training provider you’re interested in and ask yourself the following questions to see that they are reliable. 

Do they have reviews? Hearing what other professionals have to say about their experience is very helpful in determining how the provider operates. This will give more insight into their practices since it is a third party speaking about them.

Do they have both positive and negative reviews? You might think that if a provider has negative reviews the best thing to do is say "forget it.” Not quite. Providers who display negative reviews along with their positive ones demonstrate that they are transparent, which is a valuable quality. Oftentimes, if there are only positive reviews, it means that a professional development provider has gone through and taken away any of their bad feedback.

Ask questions

Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you have any concerns before booking a provider to train your staff, email or call them. Having direct communication with someone is the best way to learn how a professional development trainer will suit your needs.

Some questions to ask a new supplier include: 

  • What is the objective of the program?
  • How do you engage the learners?
  • What is included in the cost?
  • At what levels to you expect learners to be at by the end of the course?
  • How can you ensure that we will get a return on our investment? 

If providers don't know how to answer these questions or don't want to, you should probably move on to someone else. 

Provide Professional Development to Staff

Getting Funding for Training

In past years, the importance and value of professional development has been ignored. As a result, companies are sometimes hesitant to invest money into L&D initiatives.

That being said, organizations are starting to see the true value of professional development. Although it might still take some convincing to get the necessary funding, executives are willing to listen.

Therefore, if you’re an individual who would like additional professional development to succeed at your role, make you sure you come up with a plan. Employers want to know all the details before committing to something. A well-prepared presentation is likely to increase your chances at scoring the training you know you deserve, so come ready to answer the following questions.

  • What training are you interested in pursuing and how will it positively impact your current role?
  • Can others benefit from the same training?
  • Which providers conduct the training and in which methods?
  • Has the provider demonstrated successful results in the past?
  • What do you expect the return on investment will be?

Remember, upper-management wants numbers and facts to support their decision. If you can provide a convincing argument that not only you but the entire organization will benefit from a professional development training, no one will be able to say no!

Last updated: 08 Jul 2019

U.S. L&D Report: 2019 - Benchmark Your Workplace Learning Strategy

US L&D report 2019 - Benchmark your Workplace Learning

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