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Professional development should be seen as an ongoing process throughout an employee’s work life, according to the experts.

“If you have been in a role or profession for a period of time, it is easy to become complacent but it’s imperative that you keep yourself vital,” says Scott Wenke, Experienced Learning & Leadership Development Executive at Aecom.

“Many people believe it is the company’s role to provide development opportunities to keep your skills up to date. However, it is not a one-way street. As an individual you are responsible for your own career,” says Wenke.

This message is getting lost, however. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report employees are waiting to be told they need to improve their skills.

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The top three reasons employees undertake workplace learning are if they are directed to by a manager; if it’s required for a promotion; or if it’s suggested by a colleague.

Sarah Anthony

It demonstrates that we are willing to take responsibility for improving ourselves and gives us more influence over our own career path

- Sarah Anthony, co-founder of Northpoint Coaching Academy

Sarah Anthony, co-founder of Northpoint Coaching Academy (right), agrees that ultimately, ownership for personal development lies with the employee.

“It demonstrates that we are willing to take responsibility for improving ourselves and gives us more influence over our own career path.”

Allocating time

The number one reason employees say they are not engaging in workplace learning is because they don't have the time. LinkedIn’s survey also found that executives and people managers agree that getting employees to make time for learning is the number one challenge for talent development.

Anthony warns that there can be serious consequences if it is neglected. “When we don't spend time on these types of activities, we can find our competence and skills lagging behind our work colleagues,” says Anthony. “Individuals who let personal development slide can find themselves overlooked for promotions, lack confidence in their skills and might be less flexible in the changing landscape of work.”

The good news is that now is always a good time to start and there is a host of affordable, accessible options to boost our skills, right at our fingertips.

On the road

Many courses are available in audio form, which is a great way to brush up on workplace learning and make productive use of the many hours a week you might spend behind the wheel or riding the Metro. Try listening to a podcast on professional development such as Team Guru to learn about the theory and principles of leadership, or Occupational Olivia for insights on workplace psychology.

In the air

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If you travel a lot for work, then you can use those hours in the air for self-improvement via a self-paced online course. There are many high-quality training courses offered for free by the world’s finest academic institutions as massive online open courses (MOOCs). Try searching for a MOOC in your area of specialisation to complete while travelling. Or you can explore the world of workplace learning right from your seat-back on the Emirates ICE network with audiobooks, LinkedIn classes, foreign languages and business programmes.

Ice Network

So if you’re at a career crossroads and don’t know how to move forward in your working life, now you have no excuse not to boost your skills and get ahead.

Dubai courses and resources

  • Convention: HR Summit and Expo, November 12-14, DWTC
  • Course: NPCA Certificate in Professional Coaching, from November 8 at North Point Coaching Academy, Dubai
  • eLibrary: Dubai Chamber Information Centre
  • Expo: Wellbeing at Work 2019, February, advance registration
  • Short course: Building Personal Resilience, November 15, offered by CIPD in Dubai