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As a resource for your industry or profession, your association is the place your members turn to help develop and grow their careers. A big part of career development is professional education and training.  

But today, members have multiple sources for education and training. So, it’s important to align your education strategy with what members are seeking to make sure your association continues to be their go-to source for career development. 

Why it’s time to step up your association’s education program

In the 2021 Association Trends Study by Community Brands, members of professional organizations say that training is the second most important member benefit. They also say they’re getting professional education and training in multiple ways – which reinforces the same finding from the Member Professional Development Study by Community Brands.

Members turn most frequently to their employer or their professional association for training and professional education, but other sources are close behind. That means you have considerable competition for your members’ attention when it comes to providing professional education. 

member professional education

How to align your education program with what matters most to members

Keeping your members coming back to your organization for professional education and training means giving them more of what they seek. Community Brands research shows that content and convenience are top among the top things that members consider when choosing professional development or training.  

With this in mind, here are three tips for aligning your professional education offerings with the content and convenience members want most: 

1. Understand your members’ content needs.
Before you start developing content, it’s important to understand what your members are seeking to learn and achieve. Community Brands research suggests that members value practical skills, case studies, hands-on learning, and leadership/management skills. Specific topics might include those that are: 

  • Aimed at specific audiences, such as material for a recent graduate who is trying to land a job, or for a mid-level manager seeking to take the next step in his or her career 
  • Most popular, based on attendance and ratings from past events 
  • Hot, timely topics in your industry 
  • Popular in your online community 
  • Presented by well-known and/or highly rated speakers 

While this list is a great starting point, it can also be helpful to send a survey to your members to gather feedback about their specific learning needs.  

2. Offer a variety of content formats.
Findings from multiple Community Brands studies show that members are interested in a variety of learning options, including webcasts of live events, recommended courses, and short videos. Revisit your professional education program and look for new ways to offer a variety of learning options to address members’ schedules, educational and certification needs, and learning preferences

3. Be tech-ready.
The right learning management system (LMS) is essential to provide the variety of learning options your members expect. Be sure to choose an LMS that offers: 

  • Ease of use – Make sure the system you select makes it easy for your team to re-purpose content; offer a variety of learning modes and formats; and deliver content through an organized, on-demand course library.
  • Interactivity – Look for a system that supports networking and interaction opportunities in your online experience so that learners can talk with other learners, ask questions, and make comments.
  • Integration – To create a complete career development experience for your members, your LMS should integrate with your online career center. That way, members and non-members browsing your LMS course menu can be presented with actual and relevant job opportunities they would be qualified for if they took suggested courses or learning paths through your organization. Conversely people viewing jobs on your online career center can see courses they can take through your organization to make them a stronger candidate for their next great job. 

professional education benefits

By supporting your members’ career journeys, you can ensure your association delivers member value for years to come. YM Careers provides job board software and career center solutions to help you deliver the career advancement benefits members seek. It’s part of the connected network of solutions by Community Brands that includes multiple learning management system solutions.  

Learn more about improving professional education program.

Get the guide, Using Your Job Board and LMS to Support Your Members’ Career Journey

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