If you’re looking to advance your career, there is no luxury of becoming stagnant in the workplace; continuing education is highly valuable and important. This doesn’t require formal education, such as a trade school or university. Informal learning through various seminars and workshops is available to assist working professionals in expanding and updating their knowledge. Such opportunities are often called professional development and are available from a variety of sources, from private firms, to non profit organization. It is even sometimes provided by employers.
What is Professional Development?
There is no nationally accepted definition for professional development. However, it is necessary to keep in mind a distinction between professional development in the education industry and professional development in the business world. In education, professional development is often provided by a school, and is critical in keeping teachers’ methods and information up to date, and especially up to standards reform.
It is a similar idea in the business world, however it is rather more far reaching (and not usually mandatory). Also, instead of focusing on a singular issue (like teaching), there are a variety of skills available to be learned, which can be applied to diverse fields. Many companies offer a plethora of workshops, ranging in topic from the effective use of a few specific, yet ubiquitous technologies, to broader courses in risk management in business. These are skills that are relevant throughout most career paths.
The Value of Professional Development
Obtaining new and diverse skills is valuable not only on the theoretical level, but also on the direct and practical level, especially when searching for a new job. Professional development workshops, while less formal than a collegiate course, are considered education, and therefore can be listed on a resume. This confers several benefits; it allows young professionals to fill gaps in their skill base or education, it gives visible evidence to skills when one lacks a substantial amount of work experience, and it gives older professionals a means to demonstrate direct training in skills, as opposed to inference from experience.
The pursuit of professional development isn’t only relevant when hunting for a new position. It also allows for the maintenance of skills as time and technology progresses. Working to keep one’s skills up to date in the use modern technology, and maintaining a level of performance meeting or exceeding that of recent graduates is a savvy step to take in ensuring one’s job security, and, further, to advance ahead of those who do not.
What Does It Cost?
Professional development opportunities are especially valuable in that they are not necessarily expensive. This makes it especially valuable for the individual looking to move forward in their career. Professional development is almost all reward with little risk. All that is required for free workshops is time, and workshops can as short as a single hour. Being available at minimal cost and time commitment, such opportunities are especially advisable for the professional down on his or her luck, with few resources otherwise available to help boost a career.
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