There are three different types of professional development services: skills assessment, needs assessment, and implementation of a customized training program. All these services are typically offered by firms that specialize in professional development. This term is used to define education and training programs aimed at people who have already completed a post-secondary training program. The services firm can be engaged by either a company on behalf of its employees, professional associations on behalf of their members, or by individuals looking for professional career services.
Professional development is a type of training completed throughout the length of a career. In all fields, there are changes in technology, technique, or theory over time. Researchers are continually working to expand their knowledge within their field of study, and this is a driving factor behind a lot of change. As a result, people working in the field or industry must complete additional training to keep their skills up to date. This is true for every profession from baker to doctor.
The primary product offered by professional development services is a skills assessment. This type of work is typically completed by a career counselor, or someone who has completed a training program in psychological profiles. An assessment of the current skill set and level of proficiency is a very important part of professional development services. Providing each candidate with a list of his or her current skill sets and ranking helps to prioritize the types of training required to keep skills current.
A needs assessment is usually completed by a researcher or statistician, as this type of assessment focuses on what is required by employers. For example, a needs assessment program for nurses will determine if there is a decline in the need for obstetrical nurses, but an increase in palliative care. This information is essential when designing a professional development service plan, as it provides both direction and a tangible return on investment.
The professional development services firm will create a training plan, based on the specific needs and requirements of the client. This may vary, depending on whom the client is, the total budget, and the primary motivating factors. For example, someone who is using this type of service for her own career management will have a different training plan than a hospital who has hired the service to manage the career transition for people whose positions have been eliminated. The motivation and target end result are quite different.