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5 ways to make the most of your professional development budget

By Academy Xi

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It’s that time again where we are nearing the end of the financial year and for many organisations there is unused learning and development budget tucked away.

This isn’t simply a case of ‘use it or lose it’, but a golden opportunity to seriously consider where your workforce can truly benefit from upskilling and personal development training.

There’s also the reality that the ‘great resignation’ has hit Australian shores. Perceived to be spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of people quitting their jobs in the U.S hit a 20-year high at the end of 2021, with a lack of opportunities for advancement being stated as one of the main reasons for leaving roles. On local turf, recent findings from PwC Australia show that 38 percent of employees want to find a new job in the next year.

With all of this in mind, how can you meaningfully make the most of professional development budgets in the current climate? 

We’ve rounded up the following five ways to consider.

  1. Reflect on where you and your people want to go
  2. Select an in-demand skill
  3. Choose hands-on training
  4. Gain insights from mentors and managers
  5. Find training that serves professionally and personally

#1: Reflect on where you and your people want to go

For individuals, it’s important to consider which direction you see yourself moving in professionally. Take the time to clarify your short- and long-term goals in your current job, or the role you are aiming for in the future. Are there any skills that you need to learn to meet these goals, or at least work towards them? This process of reflection can help you to identify areas for further research.

For individuals and teams, digital skill gaps are always worth addressing and can help to future proof any role. There are upskilling courses for teams and individual employee development opportunities on the market, depending on the skills needed.

#2: Select an in-demand skill

Understanding the current skills that are in-demand in your industry can be a great way of identifying which areas you might like to focus on for your professional development training. Be open to the idea that a skillset worth gaining might not be something you have considered before. Digital skills, for instance, are in great demand across all industries and not only needed by I.T professionals. If you can harness the power of using company data effectively and learn how to visualise it, you will be an asset to any organisation. For those in learning and development management, empowering your people with data skills is one of the most strategic training decisions you can make right now.

#3: Choose hands-on training

Wherever possible, you want to invest your time and budget in training that gives you practical opportunities to practice your newfound skills as you are learning. This experiential approach will enable you to better retain new information and apply what you learn much more efficiently and effectively in your workplace environment. Better still, try to find training that supports you to use real life projects or scenarios from your current position as the basis for your learning.

Effective hands-on training doesn’t need to be face to face either. The last few years have seen a rapid increase in industry leading institutions migrating their offerings online. This enables flexibility for people to fit their training into their existing lifestyles and commitments. The key: search for best-in-class training where student success is prioritised.

#4: Gain insights from mentors and managers

Working with a mentor or manager can be a helpful approach to clarify any skills that could be beneficial for your career growth. Having an outside perspective from someone who is aware of the broader direction of the company or industry can give you insights into which direction to investigate, which can then influence learning and development opportunities.

It is also worth noting any positions within the company that you are interested in and discovering if it is possible for you to be seconded to that department or if some form of mentorship could be established to support you in learning more about that business function.

#5: Find training that serves professionally and personally

Perhaps there is an opportunity for you to upskill in a way that can support business needs and at the same time benefit your own personal interests. Is there a freelance business you would like to establish in addition to your in-house role that could gain traction from a new skill?

The Wrap Up

The importance of upskilling employees is vital to increase retention, motivation, and innovation and to ultimately equip your people for the future needs of the organisation.

Don’t let your own personal professional development budget go to waste, nor the learning and development budget of your teams. The benefits of upskilling for employees are well documented, with digital upskilling courses increasing in importance and popularity as many businesses recognise the digital skills gap within their ranks.

Need support in how to upskill your employees?

At Academy Xi, we understand how complex digital transformation can be. We help people thrive by training and supporting teams with the skills they need to stay ahead with genuine confidence, instead of being left behind. Our learning designers are experienced industry professionals and create customised programs that offer real, long-lasting change for individuals and teams.

Our training is offered at every level of experience, from introductory through to advanced and we ensure that our outcomes are highly practical so your teams can apply their new knowledge as quickly as possible back at HQ.

Don’t let your unused training budget go to waste

We’d love to discuss your organisation strategy for supporting upskilling and professional development. Get in touch with our team today and discover how we can design and deliver training to keep you thriving.

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