March 4, 2019
Changes in technology affect everyone’s job. You probably rely on different tools and skills now than you did ten years ago. Members are no different. They must continue to develop new knowledge and skills so they can adapt to changes in the workplace and keep themselves employable and promotable.
This type of lifelong learning isn’t a luxury reserved for those who can afford the time and expense. It’s is an imperative for everyone. What professionals need today are focused programs that teach them what they need to know as quickly as possible. To distinguish themselves in the talent marketplace, they also need validation of their competencies. Associations can respond to this market demand by offering certificate programs and certifications.
Associations usually focus the marketing of their education and credential programs on the individual learner. But your educational programs have two target audiences: individuals and the employers who pay for or encourage their continuing education.
Think of employers as the influencers who can help persuade members and prospects to register for educational programs or apply for certifications. They have the power of the purse. They also have the power to hire, promote, and fire. They see where existing and prospective employees are deficient. In fact, 92 percent of business leaders think Americans aren’t as skilled as they need to be, according to the Adecco State of the Economy Survey. 59 percent said the U.S. education system was to blame for gaps in workforce skills.
Associations can help bridge that gap, but don’t wait too long to act. Colleges and universities have already received this message loud and clear. Many of them are consulting with employers to develop new certificate and credential programs that teach and validate the skills and knowledge in demand by employers. Don’t let them steal your members and prospects.
Become your industry’s educator of choice by partnering with member employers. Invite them to be on an advisory board that identifies skills gaps in your marketplace. Employers who help you design credential programs are more likely to send employees to them. Your association becomes an extension of corporate training.
44 percent of the executives participating in the Adecco survey lamented their workforce’s lack of soft skills, such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. These skills have not traditionally been included in certificate or certification requirements, but they could be a way to distinguish your programs from those of your competition.
Credentials, such as certificates and certifications, help professionals show current and prospective employers what skills and knowledge they bring to the job. The need for this type of validation is not limited to one segment of your membership or market.
Young professionals need to acquire the skills and knowledge they didn’t learn in high school and college, particularly soft skills and job-specific hard skills. They’re seeking a less expensive and time-consuming alternative to higher education. They also need to validate newly acquired competencies, especially if they don’t have relevant work experience. They can gain marketable skills and knowledge through your association’s certificate and credential programs.
The competencies that got mid-career professionals to their present position aren’t going to get them to their next one. They want to develop the skills and knowledge required for promotion. They also need the certification that shows employers and boards that they have what it takes for senior management or C-suite positions.
Many professionals at the peak of their career have to rethink the path ahead, for example, those who’ve been laid off or forced into early retirement. They need help with reskilling so they can enter your profession or industry. Other professionals in transition, such as military veterans and parents returning to full-time work, would also benefit from credential programs that provide the education and validation they need.
A growing sector of the economy is made up of freelancers, solopreneurs, contract workers, and small business owners. These self-employed professionals have different educational needs than those who work for others. Consider developing a certificate program or learning pathway for them that focuses on industry-specific business management skills.
Credential programs help both industry employers and professionals. They also help you create deeper connections with the members and prospects who participate in these programs. In an Associations Now article, Shelly Alcorn, CAE, said:
“The kind of member loyalty that you have always said you wanted to create? I don’t know of any better loyalty than ‘They helped me get a job, keep a job, and get a better job.”
Find out how MemberSuite can help your association manage the entire process of certification, or just keep track of CEU credits.