Invest For Success; Why A Professional Development Program is Vital, And How to Build One

By Sophie Richards on 31 October 2019

Header image of man teaching a classroom of adults

Professional development. If your organisation doesn’t already have a robust program, then this blog is one to keep reading.

The positive impacts are far reaching: more engaged employees, better retention, a wider knowledge base and the growth of talent.

In this blog we discuss why it’s so important to implement a professional development (PD) program in your defence industry organisation, and how to do this successfully.


Why is professional development so important to a company’s success?

A professional development program acts as a roadmap for people to expand their knowledge and build their careers. Professional development can also contribute to personal development, and help create more engaged employees with better retention rates.

By investing in the skills development of current workers, employers can fill internal knowledge gaps and create contingencies for key roles. For the employee, they get to broaden their skills and qualifications and create a more robust career development trajectory.


What type of professional development could you offer?

Professional development programs can be made up of a range of offerings. Some of these include:

  • On the job upskilling

  • Formal education to gain qualifications including diplomas, graduate and post-graduate diplomas

  • Soft-skill and leadership development

  • External training providers

  • In-organisation mentoring

  • Peer-led learning

The wide range of training opportunities available means there is almost always something to suit everyone.


Top tips on how to build a professional development program

So now you know why it’s so important and the kind of training you can offer, it’s time to consider how to create a professional development program (or improve the one you’ve already got).


Follow this step by step guide:

1)     Figure out the nuts and bolts. Who can access the PD program? Is it open to all employees, or just those in permanent full-time roles? Should your Defence customers have access to this program as well? And how much time and money should be invested? What can each trainee access each year?

2)     Run a needs assessment. Plenty of effort needs to go in upfront in order to understand where the knowledge gaps are and determining what areas training is needed in. It’s important to include employees in this stage, to ensure the PD program is relevant and meets their needs. If you have direct contact with a customer, you might want to ask for their feedback as well.

3)     Management buy-in. It’s vital that management support their employee’s involvement in this program and believe in the positive outcomes it can bring. If you’re getting pushback, be sure to educate key managers on the benefits of this type of people investment.

4)     Goal setting. Ensure program participants have a clear goal setting framework to ensure they get the most out of their involvement. The entire program should have clear objectives that align with company values.

5)     Create a comprehensive program. Make sure your program covers a range of topics including soft, technical and leadership skills. This can be delivered through a mix of in-house, online and external training providers and different learning methods should be employed as everyone learns differently.

6)     Allocate sufficient resources. Employees need to know that they have time put aside to access the program and to put their learnings into practice. Budget and time considerations should be taken into account early.

7)     Review the program regularly. Seek feedback constantly from program participants and track progress. You should also decide how regularly you want to evaluate the program’s success. It’s important to ensure employees are getting the most out of the program, as well as providing feedback to management. We recommend doing this at least once a year.


What is the impact of these kind of programs?

Having spoken with clients who have implemented successful professional development programs, we know the kind of positive impacts they can have. Some feedback includes:

“The program has been really well received, especially by younger team members.”

“Having an established professional development program has been beneficial in improving work quality, retention rates and employee satisfaction.”

“Our people are becoming our ambassadors; because they’re getting so much out of their work life, they’re telling their friends and networks what it’s like to work for us. This makes attracting new talent easier.”


So there you have it – why investing in a professional development program is vital for success, and how to do it. For more information on how to strengthen your workforce reach out to Kinexus today.


** This blog has been updated in 2023 to reflect more recent defence industry trends.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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