Many employees apply for and accept jobs with a view to climbing the ladder and progressing. In recent years, as online courses have become more widely available and employers look to plug skills gaps and talent shortages, more and more employees are taking advantage of professional development opportunities. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why workers and employers should prioritise development and provide advice for employees who are interested in boosting their chances of securing job promotions or increasing their salary.
What is professional development?
Professional development is a term used to describe the process of maintaining and enhancing skills, learning and expanding your knowledge base. Through professional development, employees can develop their skill set by adding work-related, specific skills as well as improving their employability by broadening their horizons and developing more generalised skills. There are several ways people undertake professional development and many industries actively promote continuous learning. Examples include online courses, skills workshops, training sessions, academic study, practical courses and programmes, webinars and seminars, educational conferences and events, self-directed study and informal activities and mentoring.
The types of activities employees undertake as part of professional development will depend heavily on their role but they should also reflect career ambitions and goals. When choosing courses or exploring opportunities, it’s always beneficial for individuals to ask questions including, ‘Where am I now?’ and ‘Where do I want to get to?’
Statistics show that modern-day employees rate career progression highly when deciding which jobs to accept and which companies to work for or with. A report published by Gallup suggests that 87% of millennials actively seek roles that offer growth and progression opportunities. The figure falls slightly but is still significant for employees outside of the millennial bracket at 69%.
What are the advantages of professional development for employees?
Online learning has made professional development more accessible to employees than ever before and many workers are eager to take advantage of learning and training programmes to enhance their career prospects. Here are some of the key benefits of professional development for employees:
● Developing your skill set
One of the most significant advantages of professional development is learning new skills and building on an existing skill set. Even the most experienced, knowledgeable professionals can learn new things, and there are always opportunities to expand knowledge bases, enhance understanding and take on and utilise new information. The breadth and scope of courses cater to employees at all levels across all sectors and industries. Increasing your knowledge base and learning new skills can help you to gain confidence, improve your performance at work and help you climb the career ladder.
● Improving your chances of securing a promotion
Many employees have ambitions to move up the ranks and reach senior positions within an organisation. If you want to get a promotion, it’s beneficial to take steps to show your employer that you are the best candidate for the job. You can do this by demonstrating that you are committed to the company and ticking the right boxes in terms of personality and values but it’s also hugely beneficial to upskill to advance career progression. If you can show that you have the necessary skills but you’re also willing to learn and you have an impressive professional development record, this will stand you in good stead. A CV packed with information about learning and training courses demonstrates dedication and ambition and it also shows you have a good work ethic. Training and learning can set you apart from other candidates and it can also encourage employers to look in-house rather than to recruit externally.
● Boosting your salary
Research suggests that Australian employees consider pay, commute and flexibility before any other factors when considering new job offers. Believing they are underpaid is also one of the most common reasons employees leave roles in Australia. If you want to earn more, or you think that you deserve to have a higher salary, it pays to undertake professional development. Upskilling, learning new skills and adding to your knowledge base will improve your prospects of getting a promotion and it may also open doors in terms of moving to a different company or even changing careers. A study conducted by Payscale found that 33% of employees wanted to pursue professional development to get a salary raise. The figure rose to 40% among baby boomers and rates were particularly high in some industries, including healthcare, construction and The Arts.
● Fulfilling your potential
A UK study revealed that 74% of employees felt that they were not fulfilling their potential as a result of a lack of development opportunities at work (source). Many employees want to further their careers and they want to give themselves the best possible shot at moving through the ranks and securing their dream job. If you work for an employer that doesn’t actively promote and champion progression, it can be frustrating and you may think about trying to move elsewhere. Undertaking training, doing online courses and embarking upon further study can help you reach your potential and build confidence if you do have targets in mind. Almost 70% of employees who say they don’t like their current job want to use professional development to improve their prospects of getting another job (source).
● Moving with the times
Technology is advancing at lightning speed and the way we live and work is changing and evolving as a result. Professional development enables employers and employees to move with the times, embrace innovation and develop skills that equip them to deal with new technology, applications and systems. Professional development also provides an insight into changing customer demands and trends that impact the way clients consume products and services. Undertaking training and developing new skills can help employees ensure that they are ready to seize opportunities that become available as a result of innovation and new technology. People who have the skills to use the latest technology to benefit companies and employers will have better job prospects in the future due to global talent shortages.
● Exploring new opportunities
Some people know exactly what they want to do from an early age and they have a career path mapped out from the moment they start their first job. For a lot of employees, however, the future is less certain. One of the most interesting aspects of professional development is exploring new opportunities and discovering new talents and passions. Training may lead you down a different path or contribute to you developing interests in an area that is slightly different to the sector or department in which you are currently working. You may find that you want to focus on a specific skill as a result of professional development or you may want to take a new path or explore jobs you might not even thought of before.
● Investing in yourself
The future is unpredictable and you only have to look back at 2020 to see that life can throw all kinds of curveballs. While it might not be possible to secure your income for the next 50, 40 or 30 years, investing in professional development is a means of reducing risks and enhancing your value as an employee. Even if you find yourself out of a job due to unexpected redundancy or business failure, for example, your skills, your experience and your employment and education record will improve your chances of getting a new job. You may also find that you can take advantage of opportunities if somebody in a more senior position at your current employer leaves suddenly.
Getting started with professional development
There are myriad advantages of professional development for employees across all industries. The first step to take if you are interested in developing your skills and learning is to communicate with your employer or manager and convey your ambitions and expectations. Many companies promote progression but opportunities are not always available. It is possible to learn independently but it’s also helpful for employees to talk to their employers and ask about courses, programmes and workshops. You can work together as an organisation or a team to select online courses and explore sessions or activities that are relevant to the business and individual employee goals.
Professional development provides an array of benefits for employers and employees. Many employees have ambitions to climb the career ladder and studies suggest that development opportunities have never been more sought-after. Online courses, training programmes and further study can enable employees to upskill to advance their careers, increase earnings, fulfil their potential, explore new interests and talents and keep up with new developments and innovations within the industry. People who have an impressive knowledge base and those who are willing to learn and develop new skills are more likely to stand out in a crowd and secure the best job offers.