2 Themes Helping Define the Future of Professional Development

Training professionals now have an opportunity to reconsider how they might aid learners in achieving their career goals.

In today’s jobs landscape, it is essential that workers are provided avenues for career growth through continuous learning opportunities, such as upskilling and reskilling. In fact, the entire learning and development ecosystem is holistically supported by these initiatives. On the one hand, workers are able to prepare themselves for upward mobility in their careers and can market themselves via the digital credentials and certifications they receive during continuous learning courses. In tandem, businesses receive immediate value from workers prepared to tackle more advanced work, and professional associations and training providers receive a steady stream of revenue from learners who recognize the value in reskilling themselves.

Delivering value to learners who want to up-level their careers is worthy of a closer look as we see further shifts in the labor market and trends in professional development. A few key changes to the infrastructure of the jobs market are driving a need for training professionals to re-think their upskilling offerings – from an increase in specializations to more competition between job seekers – these ideas are worth exploring and understanding in detail in order to define the future of professional development.

Why specialization is at the crux of skills development and employee retention

A number of things drive the increased need for specialized skills and credentials, but most notably due to the effects on the workforce caused by digital transformation. The introduction of cutting-edge technologies to the workplace – think things such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep tech – has led to the very real threat that workers, if they are not properly skilled, could have their jobs either replaced directly by technology or usurped by workers who are more equipped to interact and work with advanced technologies in their day-to-day responsibilities.

On the surface, yes, this might sound like a bad sci-fi film, but in reality, the way workers revamp their skills and specializations has changed after the advent of these types of technologies. Specialized training leads the way here, with learners creating highly-targeted career pathing plans for themselves to help reinforce their value to employers. By stacking professional development courses to learn proficiencies with advanced technologies, learners everywhere can set themselves up for more sustainable, future-proofed career growth.

What, then, does this mean for the training industry? Organizations and businesses that offer reskilling programs must adapt to the ongoing tech boom with more personalized, targeted credentialing options. By customizing each learning pathway to the specific student or worker, revamped skills development programs will resonate more strongly with individuals, further incentivizing them to invest in development courses to prepare them for future career growth.

Shifting labor markets bring increased demand for training programs

Similar to how digital transformation is creating a more competitive professional training market, the ever-evolving labor market is shaped by factors often out of individual employees’ control. As we saw from big tech labor cuts last year, the ups and downs of the market make it imperative for workers to be prepared to show their mettle.

Whether the job market is hot or cold does not matter – learners will be incentivized to grow their careers to respond to shifting labor trends either way. In a so-called “buyers market,” where workers hold the power and job openings are high, they can use their expanded skills portfolios to push for higher compensation more senior roles, and even move to other jobs where they feel more valued and better cared for.

What training professionals can do to help

Training professionals now have an opportunity to reconsider how they might aid learners in achieving their career goals. To help with this, these practitioners should consider their programs’ cost-effectiveness and time efficiency. As competition for jobs increases, workers and learners will prioritize options that can be done at fractions of the cost and time of traditional learning and development courses.

Not only should these programs be cost-effective and time-friendly, but they must also show clear returns on investments for learners. Continuing education and learning programs that show clear, measurable ROI will incentivize learners to choose their programs over a competitor’s. When economic stakes are this high, people will not jump into courses if they do not feel confident about upfront costs, time spent in order to realize achievement, and the return on their investment.

However, return on investment, both in time and money, is just part of the equation. What learners want – and frankly, need – is a clear pathway that helps define a pathway to successful career development. These pathways, which can be marked by different “checkpoints,” help learners visualize what success looks like when reskilling or upskilling themselves. This can also be achieved by adding stackable micro-credentials that build off of each other along the learner’s pathway, offering another real-life, tangible asset that demonstrates their value to the corporate world. 

We now know how vital it is for training organizations to create affordable programs and specialized, targeted credentials to help engage learners. As we head into an era of continued innovation, creating specialized and technologically relevant courses will be vital in preparing the workforce of tomorrow for sustained success and growth.

Danny King
Danny King is the Chief Executive Officer at Accredible.