What is professional development & Why engage in it?
In a world where business, compliance, regulation, education & training continue to change rapidly, our employees are frequently challenged to develop new skills, knowledge and approaches in order to perform their roles and contribute to not only the company’s objectives but in providing quality education and training. Professional development refers to knowledge, skills and attitudes that are undertaken with the intention to improve one’s performance on a personal level, to enhance the ability to perform a role or a revised job role and / or for career advancement. There are many forms of professional development with some practiced regularly, and others barely known about. For example, common forms of professional development include attending a face-to-face course or upgrading qualifications, conferences, webinars and technical assistance courses (for example, a short course designed to teach a staff member how to use the latest software package). Some other examples of professional development that are equally acceptable are coaching programs, online courses, communities of practice, mentoring reflection, supervision and even team teaching. Professional development can be a one off scenario (such as a short course) or it can be ongoing participation such as participation in a community of practice.
Another reason for engaging in professional development might be to ensure that your organisation remains compliant with regulatory frameworks. For example, for CRICOS registered providers (whether you are a higher education provider, vocational education and training provider, Government or Non-Government School, ELICOS provider), National Code Part D Standard 6.7 mandates that:
“The registered provider must ensure that its staff members who interact directly with students are aware of the registered provider’s obligations under the ESOS framework and the potential implications for students arising from the exercise of these obligations”.
When new staff members join your company, or existing staff members move from one role to another within a company, the requirements for them to understand this becomes apparent. They cannot meet or contribute to your obligations as a CRICOS registered provider if you as a company have not provided them with adequate training.
In the vocational education and training sector for example, NVR Standards 4.4(e) & 15.4(d) also mandate the continued development of vocational education and training (VET) knowledge and skills. If staff are not meeting these requirements, it may just be causing a slow death to your business. Everyone has a need for ongoing development to do their role from the receptionist who has to learn new information in relation to processing enrolments, receiving a call from a potential client and ensuring all the relevant data is collected to follow them up and convert that valuable enrolment to the trainer and assessor who needs to understand why results must be received on time and why the mapping document is crucial to your ongoing registration as a provider. Management staff also need to constantly ensure their professional development needs are being looked after because leadership demonstration is the most important factor in staff uptake of new ideas.
The 21st century and rapid advances in technology have seen significant changes to the education and training industry. With these changes to the industry, professional development learning opportunities have also followed a similar trend. With many staff being time poor or geographically isolated for example, the online provision of professional development opportunities has not only benefitted the sector in terms of increasing uptake due to less demands on time and reducing the geographic isolation, it has also provided a significant cost reduction to small businesses who are genuinely trying to provide the very best for their staff and students. More and more industry bodies such as ACPET and governments in various jurisdictions are providing webinars for example to make life easier.
What evidence can be used to demonstrate professional development has occurred?
Typically the types of evidence providers will supply as evidence of professional development are as follows (although these are by no means the only examples):
RTO Doctor VET Bootcamp for Trainers & Assessors
RTO Doctor VET Bootcamp for Administration Staff & Management Staff
Receipts from training
Handouts collected at the event
Internal professional development sessions for other staff based on the session attended
Certificates (Participation, Attendance)
Minutes of meetings
Notes gathered during communities of practice
Release to industry programs
Industry collaboration on projects
Peer review meetings