Do VAs neglect their own training?

Research from the Institute for Employment Studies states that “compared with employees, the self-employed are only half as likely to participate in work-related training or education”. 

The report gives many reasons for this but high up the list are two factors; finding the time and the prohibitive costs of long training courses. This is where Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, fills a gap. Put simply, CPD is important because it ensures you continue to be competent and develop in your profession. It is an ongoing process and continues throughout a professional’s career.

CPD exists to help you to build and refine your skills and abilities once you have formally qualified, or been appointed in a role. CPD encourages you to focus on specific skills and knowledge, usually in short, manageable ‘chunks’. Ideal if your time is in short supply.

Below is a quick reminder of the key benefits:

  • CPD ensures that you and your knowledge stay relevant and up to date.
  • CPD helps you to stay interested and interesting.
  • CPD can deliver a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional.
  • CPD demonstrates that you take responsibility for your own professional and career development.
  • CPD can lead to increased confidence in a profession as a whole.
  • CPD can increase your own confidence in your role and abilities.
  • CPD can allow you access to training that may not be available within your current role.
  • CPD can whet your appetite for a longer course of learning.

The responsibility for completing CPD rightly lies with the individual, often within the context of their membership and involvement with industry professional bodies or institutes, such as the IAM.

Fortunately, more and more employers are taking a proactive and supporting role with the CPD required by their employees. Enlightened employers see the benefits of a more highly skilled, motivated and committed workforce; although there is still a common misunderstanding with some employers that CPD takes significant time which may result in periods of “out of the business”. However, the availability of more flexible CPD options has increased significantly in recent years, with the introduction of online learning, short courses, and morning, lunchtime and evening events. Events in particular often provide learning alongside networking opportunities.

Which brings us back to the growing number of administrative superheroes known collectively as Virtual Assistants. The IAM recognises that without employer support VAs, more than most other workers, need options that don’t impact on fee-paying time and that are cost effective. There is a ever growing sector of trainers who specialise in providing tailored training for administrative professionals of all levels, job titles and specialisms within the administration sector, with subject matter including: marketing, finance, business strategy and HR, alongside more traditional training such as Microsoft proficiency, time management and so on. Nonetheless, with many employers in the dark about the training opportunities available, how aware are individuals? 

We would love to hear from some VAs about their experiences of finding appropriate training and what more could be done. Get in touch with us on any of our social platforms, including FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

The IAM hosts CPD events around the country that can support our self-employed members, and in the first four months of 2018 we have had events in London, Manchester and Sheffield and we will be visiting Liverpool and Glasgow soon. Sessions are a minimum of 45 minutes long and usually extend to an hour, or more. Our focus is professional and career development and we know that participants are keen to learn so if speakers want more time we let them have it. Events only cost £20 for non-members and £15 for members. 

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