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Professional Development: Concept and Benefits

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Employees all over the world are an integral part of the operations, success, growth and development of any business entity. In the wake increasing globalization, there has resulted been an increase in competition for employees and positions as the most innovative, efficient and effective types of employees are highly employable. As the dynamism of running businesses as well as the responsibility of its employees due to increased competition, it is important for employees to learn and upgrade their knowledge and skill to make them not only beneficial to the company but also very employable.

The article aims to evaluate the idea of professional development, its benefits to both the individual and the company as well as the ways of maximizing professional development and its impact.

THE CONCEPT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

John and Fargo (2017) described Professional development to involve learning to obtain or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees and skills required to improve one’s assigned responsibilities. It is imperative to appreciate that the most performing of employees are open – minded and ready to learn to improve upon their current location. Professional development is an effective tool that can be used to achieve the identified situation. Professional development can, hence, be achieved through formal coursework, attending conferences as well as other informal strategies. Professional development tends to have several approaches that include coaching, consultation, and communities of practice, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision and technical assistance (Powell et al, 2010).

The concept of professional development in the educational circle refers to a wide range of specialized training, formal education as well as advanced professional learning for both teaching and non – teaching staff in the bid to improve their professional knowledge, competency level, skills set and level of effectiveness (Taylor et al, 2017). Professional development for educators involves a wide range of topics and formats that may be solely funded by the individual employee, the company or can also be funded by a donor. The duration of Professional development programs range from a minimum of some few hours within a day to a period of one year or more. This depends on the type of certification to be awarded and the content of the program to be delivered. The mode of delivery of professional development programs vary from online training programs to face – to – face programs. Professional development can be facilitated by resource persons or consultants as well as in – house experts.

As educators, professional development takes different forms such as providing further education and knowledge in a teacher’s subject area. Areas tackled in such areas include learning new theories and acquiring knowledge of various historical periods as well as adjusting to new changes in syllabus and the contents of a subject area as well as new concepts. Professional development can also take the form of training or mentoring in specialized teaching techniques used for different subjects as well as identifying and evaluating the teaching techniques that suit the varying needs and demands of the students. Professional development programs can participants’ certification in a specific educational approach or program from a university or credentialing organization or even an industry – specific certification (Roth et al, 2011). Subsequently, professional development can help develop technical, quantitative and analytical skills that can be used to analyze the performance of students as well as make strategic modifications to academic programs as well as teaching techniques. An avenue to learn new technological skills such as the use of interactive boards and school management systems is provided through professional development courses. Other important issues such as classroom management can be effectively addressed through such programs thereby promoting effective teaching techniques. Again, professional development programs open an avenue to share ideas and experience among colleagues which go a long way to help develop teaching skills collaboratively. Leadership skills can also be improved through professional development as participants can be assigned to mentors and instructional teachers to support new and beginning teachers. During such pairings, there is sharing and gaining of experience from both new and experienced teachers who aim to improve the quality of their delivery. In such cases, experienced teachers share ideas and skills as well as provide constructive criticism and feedback and also professional guidance.

In the bid to maximize the impact of a professional development program, it is important for the individual to ascertain the following issues. These include having a positive attitude towards the professional development program. This is the first important step to as the individual aims to set up some time to learn on a regular basis. Also, it is important to examine one’s decision to undertake the professional development program. This helps improve the commitment level of the individual as well as exudes confidence to learn for the program. It is also important for people research and read more on their own to be adequately prepared for professional development programs. Professional development is a process that aims to improve and increase the capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities in the workplace, through an outside organization or through watching others perform their job (Powell et al, 2010). Also, professional development helps build and maintain the morale of employees as it helps attract higher quality staff to the company. Professional development is an effective tool for attracting and maintaining high quality staff. It equally provides an avenue for employees to develop and improve their skills and knowledge which helps their delivery in class.

CONCLUSION

Professional development has gradually gained prominence in bridging the gap between academic work and professional knowledge and skill required to be successful employees. It has been identified to be an effective motivational tool to attract and maintain high quality employees in the process of ensuring growth and development within any business environment.

Based on the findings of this article, it can be suggested that professional development must be imbibed into the policy of every institution that aims to deliver high quality products and services. At London School of Management Education (LSME) we pride ourselves in supporting our cherished staff and students with training opportunities to improve their professional skills. The course of studies and programmes we deliver are professionally oriented to develop our students in realizing their career goals. Seminars and workshops are organized periodically to provide new knowledge on topical issues to both staff and students.

We believe it is part of our corporate social responsibility to provide professional development opportunities to all our stakeholders because professional development must a continuous process that allows employees to be abreast with current trends that are exhibited globally to make them more competitive.

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REFERENCES

  • Taylor, J. A., Roth, K., Wilson, C. D., Stuhlsatz, M. A., & Tipton, E. (2017). The effect of an analysis-of-practice, video casebased, teacher professional development program on elementary students’ science achievement. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(2), 241–271.
  • Johnson, C. C. & Fargo, J. D. (2014). A study of the impact of transformative professional development on Hispanic student performance on state mandated assessments of science in elementary school. Journal of Elementary Science Teacher Education, 25(7), 845–859.
  • Powell, D. R., Diamond, K. E., Burchinal, M. R., & Koehler, M. J. (2010). Effects of an early literacy professional development intervention on Head Start teachers and children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(2), 299–312.
  • Roth, K. J., Garnier, H. E., Chen, C., Lemmens, M., Schwille, K., & Wickler, N. I. Z. (2011). Video-based lesson analysis: Effective science PD for teacher and student learning. Journal on Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 117–148.
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