As business continues to move faster, more people and companies are investing in professional development training to ensure critical skills keep pace with the speed of change.

Professional development, sometimes considered the sole domain of higher-ups and bigwigs in corner offices, is becoming increasingly relevant — and crucial — in a business environment where more young people are being promoted to supervisory positions than ever before and specialized skills take centre stage in the working world. Examples of professional development include mentorship and apprenticeship programs, leadership training and learning or improving work-related skills that can take your skills to the next level or help you excel in a new, challenging position.

Barbara Dickson, director of custom programs for executive development at Queen’s University in Kingston, says people are realizing that increased success in the workplace is not only a result of working harder, but working better as well.

“There’s a direct correlation between personal improvement and results — there are functional things you can teach to boost skills,” she said.

Dickson says more people are taking professional development studies proactively to make themselves more marketable to potential employers in a measurable way and to show they excel in a wide range of skills, since multi-tasking is key in today’s business climate.

“Traditional hierarchies are no longer effective in achieving results — businesses need collaboration to succeed,” Dickson said.

Gord Vaxvick, a continuing education consultant at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST), says professional development courses focusing on supervisory training are in particularly high demand.

Changing business and social climates have made proper management training even more crucial, he says, because today’s employees demand a more constructive style of management that is less about commanding people and more about motivating them to excel.

“I think that employees’ expectations have changed as well — supervision is no longer just about barking orders and being obeyed, it’s a matter of using interpersonal skills to influence employees to do what is best for the company,” he said.

In trade and business fields, Vaxvick is seeing a sharp increase in the level of responsibilities young people are being tasked with taking on, resulting in a need for management training.

“Most people are promoted to a supervisory position because they have strong technical skills — it’s assumed they have strong interpersonal skills as well. That’s why coaching and mentoring is increasingly important,” Vaxvick said.

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