Thursday, 09 June 2016 11:02

Lifelong Professional Development Key to Career Growth

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BY RUTH VELORIA, EXECUTIVE DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX,

If you've ever had the urge to hit the refresh button on your career, you're not alone.

Two-thirds of U.S. working adults sometimes feel their careers are stalled, and more than half have regretted a career misstep, according to a 2016 University of Phoenix School of Business survey.  Nearly half also admit to having no clear plan moving forward.  This is particularly concerning considering that in today's economy professionals are expected to adapt and respond to the rapidly evolving needs of businesses, which often requires advancing their skill sets throughout their careers.

In the 21st century job market, workers are staying in their careers longer than ever, and will likely face the reality that no single degree will meet their employer’s needs for the entirety of their career. Professionals across every industry are looking for courses to help them gain a competitive edge and grow their industry or professional skills to avoid career stagnation.

At all stages of your career, whether you’re just starting out, are a seasoned employee, or nearing retirement, it’s important to acquire new skills related to your job and passions. Expanding your knowledge means more than enhancing your value; it also demonstrates versatility and broadens your options should you decide it’s time to look at not just changing jobs, but changing careers.

Professional development courses can cover a range of management, leadership, marketing, human resources, business operation and technology skills that allow professionals with deep subject knowledge in an industry to get important training in managing people, staff conflicts or processes. Professionals not in a management role might beneft from a better understanding of how to use office productivity tools such as Microsoft Outlook, messaging and presentation software or learn to gather and analyze data to make better informed decisions.

Many working professionals may be intimidated by the time commitment required to pursue a full bachelor or graduate degree program. However, obtaining advanced certificates can be a highly effective option to stay competitive with the job market. Business certificates can provide a deeper exploration into areas such as human resources, project management, health administration, accounting and technology, and are increasingly aligned with industry standards and employer needs. University of Phoenix, for example, works with the Society of Human Resources Management and the National Retail Federation to help ensure programs prepare students to address industry demands.

Understanding the best education option for you takes some honest self-assessment. Examine your own skill gaps by reviewing professional development blogs, web articles and other resources that outline the background you’ll need for the job you desire. Take measure of the knowledge gaps that may threaten your organization’s growth and plot a path to professional development for yourself. Whether you grow your skills by taking on new projects at work for continued on-the-job learning, this underscores your commitment and ability to think strategically. Once the road map is in place, ongoing professional development and training can serve as markers you can follow to put you in a productive, happy and fulfilling workplace destination. Flexible options, online learning and professional development courses can make educational goals achievable and provide professionals with the opportunity to refresh — rather than restart — their careers. Learn more at phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.

Sources: The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix School of Business, Feb. 29 - Mar. 2, 2016.

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