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Why Continuing Education Is Important. 4 Beneficial Trends

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, ‘continuing education?’

Do you think about earning continuing education credits towards certification? Or do you think about a day away from the office to connect with colleagues and learn something new? It may be one or both of these things — or it may be something completely different. Actually, if you have been in the workforce for a long time, you may not think that continuing education is important at all anymore.

But it is! Not only is continuing education critical for your career, but also as a professional it is important for you to know how it has changed and what opportunities may lie ahead for you. Continuing education continues to grow and evolve like other forms of education, but for the working professional, exciting things are happening. In the past decade, there have been some beneficial developments. They are:

  1. Competency-based education (CBE)
  2. Educational partnerships
  3. Customized programming
  4. Specialization vs. generalization

Competency-based programs focus on the development of a specific skill or skillset in a single course. As noted by Kelly Otter (2015) of Georgetown University, although implementation of CBE has primarily taken place in traditional educational programs, it has a place in innovative continuing education programs.  At CELG, we design new curricula by combining research of workforce trends and public sector competencies with their best practices in course delivery. We use this approach in the Strategic Communications Certificate Program where participants get hands-on experience in using social tools to develop content for their municipalities’ and organizations’ social media sites. CBE meets the needs of specific audiences and target specific levels of learning; an approach valued by CELG.

Educational partnerships are not uncommon, but in the continuing education arena, they are becoming an affordable and viable tool to educate an organization’s or municipality’s workforce. For example, CELG partnered with Bernards Township to offer the popular Mini MPA on site for 20 municipal leaders. This not only allowed for convenience, but for curricula to be customized to the participants.

When individuals consider participating in continuing education, they often struggle with one question: Should I generalize to keep my skills transferable, or specialize to make myself stand out?  Marie Bountrogianni  (n.d.) of Ryerson University points out that many professionals need to be both generalists and specialists to remain marketable. Continuing education opportunities not only help public sector professional hone their existing skillset, but provide an opportunity to develop new skills that meet changing workforce demands. At CELG, we continually monitor program feedback from participants to ensure we are meeting needs while targeting the development of specific skills required by today’s public leader. We recognize the need to balance the development of general and specialized public administration skills.

So, what do you think of continuing education now?

Bountrogianni, M. (n.d.) 5 Trends in Continuing Education for 2015. Workplace.CA. Retrieved from https://www.workplace.ca/index.html, Bull, B. (2015, April 27 ). 10 “Higher Education Trends to Watch in 2015 & Beyond.” Etale – Digital Age Learning. Retrieved from http://etale.org, Otter, K (2015, September 18). “Coming In From the Cold: Three Trends That Are Shaping the Future of Higher Education.” The Evolllution. Retrieved from http://evolllution.com