In recent years being able to provide staff training and development has become an increasing challenge. With budgets being squeezed, it is easy to remove the money for anything beyond legal and critical job training. There have been attempts to replace it with alternatives including the change to get involved in new things, and getting involved in benchmarking with colleagues in other agencies.
This week I have been involved in interesting discussions about how to provide development opportunities for police communicators. The issue is in the early stage of being considered but has presented some great opportunities for people to demonstrate how they are keeping their skills up-to-date.
A lot has been discussed about continuous professional development and the role it plays at a time of financial hardship. I spend a lot of time trying to explain to people the opportunities that exist including the free online MOOCs and other things that they can take advantage of. I have to confess here that I am very proud of my mother who after a significant break from any form of education has completed her first Coursera course and passed it with flying colours.
I believe strongly that we need to promote continuous professional development to all communication professionals. It is a great way to show that you are keeping your skills up to date and that you are considering how you need to develop further. I find it shocking that so many communicators are not finding ways to do this. At a recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) North West meeting I was surprised by the low numbers of people who were involved in the Continuous Professional Development programme.
When I speak to people there are a number of ways they try to explain their lack of involvement in any CPD. They say they haven’t got time, they don’t know what to do or they are not looking for a promotion. All these are easily dealt with. They need to make the time, to ask people for help to get started and to realise that CPD is really relevant to how you do your job in a changing world.
If you, and your staff, are not prioritising development then perhaps it is time to have a discussion about it and for managers to highlight the options that are available for people. We have to continue to improve our work and use the opportunities in front of us for today and tomorrow.