• February/March 2020

Invest in professional development

Professional development has always been essential, but it takes on extra urgency as our region combats the challenge of a workforce shortage amid low unemployment.

...companies can be confident that professional development is an investment worth making.

Global accounting firm PwC, in its "Talent Trends 2019: Upskilling for a Digital World" report, found that 79% of CEOs say a lack of key skills is threatening the future growth of their organizations. The firm notes that businesses see the nurturing of human skills – particularly leadership, creativity, empathy and curiosity – as essential if they are to take advantage of the potential benefits of new technologies.

As someone who has been working in the field of learning and development in both higher education and the private sector for more than 25 years, I've spent my professional career working to make business leaders and their employees better.

What I've found time and time again is that with fewer qualified people from which to draw, proactive companies make the wise choice to invest in developing the employees they have now. And strong employees make the decision to demonstrate to their CEOs that they are committed to their professional development.

That's why I'm so excited to help the University of South Dakota Center for Professional Development address the Sioux Falls region's professional development needs. The Center for Professional Development, housed at USD's Community College for Sioux Falls, is bolstered by an advisory committee of more than two dozen leaders from some of the region's best-known organizations. This committee has its pulse on the Sioux Falls business community, and its input helped us triple our offering of short courses this spring, covering such topics as management, supervision, leadership, writing, interpersonal communication and human resources.

The USD Center for Professional Development draws its instructors from across the region's universities and businesses, offering courses led by practitioners who are experts in their field. They're knowledgeable, experienced and care about helping Sioux Falls grow and succeed. Most are fellow members of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

The USD Center for Professional Development provides courses in a variety of formats designed to fit the schedules of busy professionals. Most are one- or two-day offerings, while others may spread out over couple of weeks. Classes are taught on the Sioux Falls campus, but we can bring any course on-site to your organization.

We've been seeing companies send several people to the same course, which helps create a shared language and skill set that transfers more easily across an organization. And with group discounts for three or more employees, companies can be confident that professional development is an investment worth making.

For the solo entrepreneur, targeted learning helps new business fill in knowledge gaps so they can thrive in a competitive business climate. For small- to medium-sized firms that may lack the budget to have trainers on staff, the Center for Professional Development can help build their employees' skill sets. Large corporations with their own training departments can also benefit from a larger variety of perspectives that complement what they offer in-house.

Why travel to Minneapolis, Chicago or further when there are high-quality professional development options closer to home? The reduction in travel expenses and time away from work allows companies to offer training to more employees without compromising workflow.

I encourage you to browse our list of courses and sign up for ones that will aid your professional development. And if you're looking for another topic, send us a suggestion and we'll consider it as we further expand our offerings. We're also interested in expanding our talent pool of instructors, so please reach out if you're an expert in a particular area in demand.

Unlock the power of your people by investing in their development.

Linda Halliburton, M.S., is the associate dean at the University of South Dakota Center for Professional Development. Halliburton's experience in business and higher education has been invaluable in helping businesses articulate the professional development needs of their employees and creating optimal solutions.

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