Learning and development opportunities exist both inside and outside the workplace.
The type of activity you undertake will depend on a number of factors including:
- which subjects are relevant to you;
- availability of opportunities;
- what the learning involves;
- your preference and learning style;
- support from your employer.
Learning at work
Formal training courses and new tasks, projects or responsibilities at work may offer you the chance to develop new skills or build on existing ones, but these are not the only way to learn at work. Successful learners will seek to create opportunities through discussions with line managers or work shadowing colleagues. In fact, anything that extends your knowledge or allows you to use this knowledge in practice can contribute to developing your competence. These may include:
- preparing and presenting reports;
- broadening technical knowledge;
- talking to suppliers, customers or specialists and working with them to determine their technical requirements;
- undertaking design tasks;
- undertaking risk assessments and performance analysis of engineering equipment.
- Formal training or training courses
Courses can differ in length of time and depth of subject as well as in the type of skills or technical knowledge they cover. It is important to take into account your preferred learning style, the time available, cost, location and any business needs of your employer or future employers when selecting a course. This will ensure that you are making the right choice and that it is fit for purpose.
Another consideration may be open or distance learning which allows you to work in your own time and fit learning around other commitments. This learning may be online, through CDs or other interactive media. You may undertake this as a one-off or as a course of study but it is important that you consider whether you have the time to commit and discipline to undertake this method as it is not for everyone.
It is not just about attending a course or event or undertaking training but about how you implement this learning into your workplace or how it guides your career planning that is important, especially in developing your competence. Capturing your learning will enable you to establish the value of each piece of learning and will help you to reflect on them.
As well as formal or on the job training there are other, less obvious, avenues you may wish to pursue in order to develop your professional development.
- reading professional magazines or specialist journals;
- attending local events or lectures e.g. local branch or networking events;
- maintaining involvement with the wider community by getting involved in local government, volunteer groups or youth clubs;
- Participating in sport or organising these events;
- Learning from experiences by analysing why some things succeeded when others failed and consider how this has improved competence.