Published 19. June 2019

Professional Development: Big Opportunities in an Era of Change

Bildung Freelancer; Professional Development

Professional development programs are both more necessary and beneficial than ever. Big changes are underway in the industry, retail and service sectors. These include Industry 4.0, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the growth of the Internet economy, new programming languages and new apps, just to name a few. In all aspects of IT and computer science, life cycles for software and hardware components are remarkably brief. The underlying conditions related to markets, demand, working methods and lifestyles are changing too. Understanding these changes is essential for SAP consultants, software engineers, engineering specialists and many other professionals.

Professional development is particularly crucial for those who wish to climb the ladder in a constantly shifting technological environment. It also offers opportunities for those looking to reorient themselves, for example as the path to moving from an industry with a stagnating outlook to one with better perspectives. The IT sector and data processing and computer science departments at large companies and institutions are currently suffering from shortages of skilled workers, making these fields especially attractive and, often, lucrative.

Many professionals look to move upwards through professional development. Yet it’s not all about material benefit or added security. For some, it involves finding new challenges and rekindling their passion for their work.

Updating hard and soft skills through professional development

IT and engineering both require not just hard skills — the points of knowledge that would be expected for such positions, such as mastery of SAP modules for an SAP consultant — but soft skills as well. These can include the ability to speak a foreign language, knowledge of psychology and rhetoric, the art of motivation or a strong ability to negotiate. Professional development opportunities are available in almost all fields.
For those looking to stay up to date, build on their career or switch to a new one, professional development is and remains crucial. So where and how can you take part in it?

The 5 most important forms of professional development:

1. Attending higher education alongside your job is time intensive and often expensive. A university degree nevertheless remains an attractive prize. That extra effort is rewarded through high-quality career opportunities. Because the process brings with it a generally accepted academic degree.

2. Scientific certification courses provide up-to-date academic knowledge on selected thematic fields. Employees, freelancers and the self-employed can all dive deep into individual academic or vocational topics. All without needing to fulfill the many requirements of a full degree program.

3. IHK seminars are particularly popular in trade and technical fields. Their big selling point: seminars from the IHK (the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce) are strongly oriented toward current best practices.

4. Continuing educational offerings from professional associations tend to be practically oriented. This is particularly of interest for employees and freelancers who wish to gain advanced qualifications for a field in which they are already working.

5. In-house professional development programs are frequently offered by larger employers. For the company, it allows them to harmonize the curriculum precisely to their needs. The benefits for the employee are also clear: the employer often assumes responsibility for the costs. Some of these programs end with officially recognized degrees, akin to external degree programs for working professionals. Perfect for all who wish to remain with their employer for the long term.

Professional development is always a plus

Whether you are an employee or a freelancer, no matter what the form and scope of your work, organized professional development programs can help you improve your position at your company and in the eyes of customers and the broader job market. It is almost always worth the effort. Not least because it demonstrates initiative and dedication. The Westhouse Group wishes you much success in your endeavors!

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