The benefits of professional development

The debate on how to close the current skills gap continues around the world. Lately it’s been accelerated by the introduction of digital business models, advanced robotics, and technologies like artificial intelligence. 

In the UK – for example – where there is a shortfall of skilled people in IT, engineering and programming, there has been a particular focus on ensuring more people are not just skilled and capable of working in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related industries, but also ‘work ready’.

Employers are looking for people who can keep pace with the latest developments in technology and its application. Employees and their leaders must be able look ahead to the future and understand when to seize opportunity or manage risk. Only then can they effectively play their role in delivering a company strategy. 

However, it’s not only about what you know but also about how you do it. Softer skills (or sometimes, today, known as power skills) rank more highly among employers, so people with creative and emotional intelligence, collaborative mindsets, and the ability to adapt are in demand. Today the best candidates will boast the ability to apply their knowledge in complex, fast-moving or changing environments, and do so in partnership with others.

Never has the incentive for continuing professional development (CPD) been so great. Standing out from the crowd is imperative to secure the best roles. It’s why completing accreditations, like PRINCE2 and ITIL, remains so popular among people starting out in their IT career as well as those with decades of experience. 

In the same way, those who take courses related to their profession, such as how AI can be used in finding new cancer treatments, will be using the latest thinking in their approach to developing and delivering new ideas. 

Of course, there are other reasons why CPD is so important. Firstly, people who invest in themselves display characteristics employers want, namely commitment and an understanding that self-improvement and continuous learning improves someone’s understanding of the world around them and, therefore, their ability to innovate. An organisation that has ambition to be a leader in its market will covet these skills. 

Secondly, the process of gaining an accreditation also boosts the in-demand softer skills. Being able to manage a project is a huge boon but completing the course will include aspects such as creative thinking, practicalities like managing workloads with studies and more sociable aspects such as interacting with new people. It all adds up to creating a more desirable CV.

Finally, this drive to improve can spur on productivity and heighten a person’s motivation. This often leads to more success and opportunities for career development, such as taking on a more senior leadership role. 

Find out more about logging Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points with MyAxelos.