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Why Professional Development Matters for Employers

Aug 29, 2019

 A photo from a McMinnville WORKS Professional Development Workshop

Currently, one of the biggest topics in economic development is workforce development and workforce solutions. In McMinnville, our unemployment rate has been around 4% for the past few years. While this is positive when looking at our economy, it also means that employers are finding it harder to both attract and retain workers. With a new generation of workers comes new desires for what companies can offer. Today, professional development has been identified as one of the most compelling benefits a company can offer.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 survey, using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees, only 33% of the American workforce is “engaged” at work. An engaged employee is someone who loves their job and works to make their organization better every day. Employees are engaged when their performance development needs are met. Within these needs are components such as “There is someone at work who encourages my development,” “In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress,” and “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.”

Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in work today is that today’s workforce knows what’s important to them and isn’t willing to settle for less. More than half of employees (51%) say they are searching for new jobs or watching for openings. So what is one thing that companies can do to help keep employees engaged and happy?

45% of millennials, 31% of Gen Xers, and 18% of baby boomers say that a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them. Professional development doesn’t only benefit the employee receiving the training. Professional development for employees lets individuals know that a company is investing in them. Someone who feels invested in is more likely to stay with a company and work hard to prove that the company made a smart investment. Professional development for employees also helps industries stay at the top of current trends, encourages a culture of learning and efficiency, and allows employees to teach and train each other on a variety of topics. Encouraging and providing professional development can change a company’s culture for the better and help with talent attraction, retention, and growth.

Here at the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, we ran two workforce development programs in the summer of 2019. Both the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program and the Career Bound Program allow young professionals who are starting their careers to learn from local area businesses and community leaders. During the 9 week McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, interns from various companies in McMinnville are brought together every Wednesday for a Professional Development Workshop to learn about a different topic. This allows interns individual development as well as time to make connections both with professionals in the area and with one another. During the Career Bound Program, interns attended a “Pre-Employment Training Conference” to enhance their soft skills and give them applicable tools to bring into the workforce.

According to Shelby Behr, an intern in the 2019 McMinnville WORKS Internship program, these workshops were an integral part of her summer: “I have been begging the universe to give me life 101 classes since I was 14 and MEDP provided it. The intern group thoroughly enjoyed and valued the Professional Development Workshops and expressed this repeatedly. I honestly feel like a different, vastly improved person having gone through the Wednesday workshops.” Markus Smith, an intern in the 2019 Career Bound Program, stated of the Pre-Employment Conference: “You took six kids who weren’t friends, had them work together and develop new skills, creating a natural transition from student to adult.”

As MEDP moves forward with our workforce development programs, we plan to keep professional development at the front of mind. Whether it’s young professionals just beginning their careers, someone looking to enhance their knowledge in their current field, or someone looking to change career paths entirely, education and lifelong learning can create a huge impact.

Workforce development is a large topic with many facets, strategies, and no one solution. We at MEDP are dedicated to providing innovative workforce solutions and assistance to our area businesses. Want to learn more? Give us a call today at 503.474.6814


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MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

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