Professional Development

Careers have to go somewhere. The worst thing for anyone is to be stuck in a dead-end job. Unless the current state of things is absolutely perfect (and it never is), people want hope for the future. A brighter future is one with more fulfilling, rewarding, and consequential work. To get there requires continually refining and extending capabilities in a dynamic world.

What you learned in school becomes a bit more obsolete every day.

The capacity to learn is the greatest contribution of education.

Professional development can take many forms depending on one’s industry and work environment. It can range from an afternoon conference with others in the field to a multi-year graduate degree in a chosen discipline. Employer support for professional development can have a similarly wide range. Some organizations, particularly smaller companies, do not set aside any money for professional development and require all such work to be done on the employee’s own time and dime. In other organizations, professional development is a much higher priority.

Several of the biggest companies in America offer tuition support for employees seeking higher education and almost all larger companies offer financial support for, at least higher level employees, to attend conferences. Educational institutions tend to be the most generous in terms of the wide variety of activities that constitute professional development. One school I know of offers funding for teachers to travel to different parts of the world over summer vacation with the expectation that this travel will enrich and enhance their teaching.

Professional development in some form is important to maintaining a knowledgeable and engaged workforce. In any industry the world is always changing. Professional development updates employees’ knowledge and assures that they are operating on the most recent information instead of whatever was in vogue when they received their formal training. It also allows people to break outside of the bubble that is often created within working groups and introduces new ideas and ways of approaching work. Finally, professional development offers essential time to reflect on one’s own work and how it compares to other things happening in the industry.

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