Perspectives of Professional Development: Exploring Diversity Within and Across Different Organisations
Catering for diversity continually challenges educators and workforce developers. The workforce is made up of an adult population that with age becomes increasingly diverse. As the size of the organisation in which these adults work increases catering for diversity becomes even more complex. Living and working in the dynamic environment of the 21st Century has stimulated the need for both individual and organisational learning. As a result there is a heightened need to develop approaches to professional development that effectively cater for diversity in complex situations. Consideration must be given to goals, purposes, forms and styles of learning, individual and contextual differences, adult learning principles and organisational change and development issues (Burns, 2002; Foley, 2004; Knowles, Holton III & Swanson, 2005). This paper, based on results from an interpretive study investigating professional development in large Australian organisations in 2007, explores a diversity of perspectives of professional development within and across organisations. Semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, using mixed methods, were conducted with staff from all levels of three diverse organisations to investigate the relationship between adult learners’ professional development and organisations’ change agenda. Results indicated that engagement with professional development was extensive but its effectiveness varied within and across organisations. The conclusion is made that the development of a framework for the provision of professional development in dynamic environments could assist workforce developers to plan more effectively and thus enhance the outcomes of professional development.
Keywords: Adult Learning, Diversity, Workforce Development, Organisational Change and Development
Dr. Susan Bolt
Coordinator Teaching and Learning, Curtin Business School, Curtin University of Technology