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16 December 2019

252: The learning challenge

To help boost your own career and get into good habits early on, training and development should be a fundamental part of public affairs.

Learning and development rightly now plays a much greater role in most workplaces. You only have to look at the employers that win ‘best places to work’ awards to see that training is at the heart of their offer. It shouldn’t just be about newer entrants to public affairs as well. We need to give thought to how best lifelong learning can become more of a reality as well.

But it is always worth thinking about some of the benefits that this approach to learning can bring.

  • Start good learning habits early on – from the very outset of a career, learning should be part of the working environment. New entrants to the profession tend to be better at asking for formal training opportunities and this has to be applauded. There are plenty of excellent courses available covering a range of PR topics, and public affairs is very much part of that mix as well. Most employers should also make some training budget available for teams but it also worth thinking about spending (or investing) your own money sometimes as well
    For those just starting out in public affairs, the election of a new Government presents a timely opportunity to think about early engagement, parliamentary processes and to ensure that good and ethical public affairs practices are being adopted. Again training can really help;
  • Formal qualifications – as PR qualifications become the norm then employers will become more familiar with the benefits they bring – the additional skills, ways of working etc, some may already mention a preference for such qualifications in the job specification but even if they do not you can still include them on a CV and talk about the benefits in interviews. The learning will demonstrate real commitment to your role;
  • Being taken ‘seriously’ – many involved in public affairs have to work with a range of professions which already have qualifications available. Gaining your own such qualification and undertaking training only helps when working alongside these other professions;
  • An improved reputation – these is no doubt that public affairs, aka lobbying, has suffered by its own reputation. The more of us that undertake training, write books, sign up to codes of ethics and contribute to the progression of the profession, the more that reputation will improve. Frankly, that can only help all of us;
  • Never too late! – there are always new things to learn, whether that’s new skills or getting to grips with new technology or social media platforms. The learning rule should apply to anyone, regardless of their age or level of seniority. It also provides a useful double check to make sure you are doing the right things and you never know, you may end up learning a few new tricks as well;
  • Challenges established practices – some places inevitably adopt a ‘that is always how we have done things’ type approach. Learning and training can provide the tools to break down such barriers and facilitate new ways of working. More effective ways of working; and
  • Joining-up teams – joint training across teams can be a really effective way of removing barriers and getting everyone to understand the pressures, motivations and demands of others. If teams better understand each other then they can deliver more effective outcomes together. These sessions can also help networking across teams as well. They sometimes rarely get to spend any amount of time with each other.

There are some excellent courses available and I would urge everyone to get into some good training habits.

This was blog was also published by the PRCA.

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