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Raising the Bar with a Professional Development Program

Raising the Bar with a Professional Development Program

By Nancy Thompson, Executive Director, AWENS – Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia  @nthompsonED


In many industry sectors, such as Education, Engineering, and Dentistry, continuing education and professional development is mandated by the governing bodies of the industries. The professional development (PD) program can be delivered in the form of lectures, seminars, courses, individual study and other activities. The acceptable areas of study are often diverse and can include topics such as, leadership, tax planning, and change management. The duration of courses is established within the standards and guidelines of the industry requirements.

If individual professionals are required to seek professional development (PD) opportunities, shouldn’t all industries be expected to establish specific requirements for working within their industry? Furthermore, are leaders, whether governed or not, responsible to provide employees with access to learning and education? Providing access would build skills and knowledge to ensure continued growth (self-development), like that of professionals who are mandated by the governing bodies of their industry.

Industry leaders are acutely aware of the direct benefits of engaging employees in training and professional development programs. It is widely known that there is a direct link between increased employee retention, productivity and motivation for organizations that provide PD opportunities. Why then, have leaders failed to provide the opportunities for employees to self-develop? Is it because they view training as an expense rather than as an investment?

It can be a struggle for employees to advance in an organization if they are not provided the chance or encouraged to participate in workplace education and training. However, when employers fail to invest in the employees; productivity decreases, morale becomes low, and the employees are more likely to leave the company. Thus, instead of saving money by not investing in professional development for employees, expenses may be incurred to assess the morale problem, employee turnover, and strategic meetings for solutions. Rather than being reactive, it is more strategic to invest proactively in an employee professional development program.

Employee education and training works to fill the gaps in the knowledge and skills of the employee, which in turn, can lead to the growth of the business. Industries that mandate professional development education and training, reap the benefits as it sets the business and the employees up for success.

Why wait to be mandated to establish a professional development program for your employees? Be a leader in your industry and move forward to investing in a professional development program. This is the opportune time when the federal and provincial governments are set to invest in businesses through the Canada Jobs Grant program. Go ahead, be a leader in your industry and set the bar high for others to follow – don’t wait to be mandated!


Is your organization ready to raise the bar within your industry and establish a professional development program to meet the needs of your employees? Working with provincial government offices such as the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE), AWENS can assist your organization in developing a customized training program through participation in the Workplace Education Initiative (WEI).

Contact AWENS for more information on program funding opportunities.


Nancy Thompson is the Executive Director of AWENS – Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia. She has worked across a wide range of industries and organizations within the business development, government, construction, corporate and non-profit sectors. As an experienced trainer and adult educator, Nancy’s passion is for promoting lifelong learning and helping people to grow both personally and professionally.

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