Professional development a priority post-COVID

‘Canadians are very motivated to move their careers and training forward’

Professional development a priority post-COVID

Canadians are ready to take their professional and personal lives by the horns post COVID-19.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) are prioritizing self-improvement, looking to level up their work and life, when the health crisis is over. And 68 per cent are unafraid to make a move if something is not working for them, saying work-life balance needs to be upheld without compromise.

“Canadians are going to prioritize themselves. Meaning that Canadians want to enjoy work, they want to enjoy life and if something isn’t working for them, they’re motivated to make a change,” says Jessica Scott, director, PowerED by Athabasca University, in an interview with Canadian HR Reporter.

“Having been locked down for so long, over a year and a half, we now focus on happiness above all else, and Canadians are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”

Reskilling and upskilling

Over 70 per cent of Canadians will also advocate on behalf of themselves to their employers for more training to re-skill, to upskill and for promotions, says Scott.

“Canadians are very motivated to move their careers forward, their training forward, either for their current role at an organization or they’re willing to make a jump to a new company for their happiness,” she says.

“Training is becoming more of a priority for Canadians… and organizations in Canada are also seeing and realizing the need to invest in employees.”

Nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) of Canadian workers are willing to reskill to get into a new career, according to a separate report.

Micro-credentials and formal education

Overall, 73 per cent of Canadians want employers to invest more in digital training for their workers. And 65 per cent say people today expect their employers to provide cutting-edge learning including higher education, found the study from Athabasca University based on a survey of over 1,500 Canadian adults in May.

Meanwhile, three out of five Canadians aged 18 to 54 have their eyes set on “micro-credentials” from universities that they can use to upskill and up-level their careers.

When it comes to micro-credentials, there is an awareness gap among Canadians and employers about what they are and how they work, according to a previous report.

Workers may be able to enjoy both types of training, says Scott.

“Micro-credentials are flexible, they are typically delivered online, they’re short bursts of content that are competency-based with either a pre- or post-assessment leading to a digital badge or some sort of credential, might be a certificate,” she says.

Jessica Butts Scott

“A lot of post-secondary institutions, like Athabasca University, are working on ways to enable learners to create pathways from micro-credentials into traditional university degree programs, so that a learner can come in, earn a micro-credential, perhaps stack a few micro-credentials, and then, if they choose to, they can enter into a traditional degree pathway and earn credit for the work that they’ve already done with the micro-credential.

There aren’t necessarily disadvantages to both approaches, it’s more about meeting the learner where the learner’s at in the moment, “and then providing the access to education that they need in that moment,” says Scott.

However, employers should recognize that workers are looking for opportunities to learn on-demand, says Scott.

“We know that more and more professionals want on-demand training. So they want access to training in the moment when they need it. So it’s not about going to a class on Thursday and Friday and sitting in a classroom from 10 to 2 to learn about something. It’s about accessing knowledge, accessing tools, frameworks that they can apply at the moment.”

Informal training

And while formal training opens a lot of opportunities for workers, employers should not overlook the good qualities that employees can get in informal coaching or mentoring setups, even if people are working remotely, says Scott.

“We know that there are three ways of learning: There’s accidental, conscious and deliberate learning. And organizations can focus on that deliberate learning by creating opportunities for mentorship to take place within their organization in an informal way.”

“Modelling gives you the capacity to fast-track training and achieve what you want in a shorter period of time.”

But it does take effort, she says.

“And it does take a willingness on team members to make those connections, to set aside time to have those engaging conversations and to teach others. So there is effort there that needs to be made in perhaps the digital means, something like a Zoom conversation, if you will.”

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