In a constantly evolving employment market, it is crucial to keep up to date with the latest skills, technology and qualifications. With the threat of automation and decline in certain industries, employees must be adaptable to their company’s needs and industry demands. For those looking to secure a promotion or pay rise, your professional development in 2019 isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a necessity.

If you’re looking at staying put this year but want to create opportunities with your current employer, training and up-skilling should be your first port of call. Whether you are looking to diversify into a new team or department, move up into a managerial role or simply take on more responsibility, here’s our top tips for improving your skill-set:

1.) Ask the Question

Start by finding out whether your current employer offers any additional training within your role as a means of refreshing your skills or developing your career. You may be surprised to find out there are options available that you had no idea about. Whether it be informal job-shadowing, lunchtime learning sessions, job rotation or a more formal training academy or learning programme, many employers recognise the value of investing in their workforce for the future.

If your employer doesn’t offer any formal or informal training opportunities, ask whether they would be open to supporting you through external study. Research potential courses and the subsidies available. Many apprenticeships or professional qualifications come with government funding so might not prove as costly as your employer thinks. Do your homework and put together a business case, the answer may surprise you.

2.) Take Ownership

Regardless of whether your company offers in-house training or support with external study, developing the skills you need should be your responsibility. Think about the qualifications or competencies required for the step you’re looking to take and identify your options for acquiring them.

Training can come in many forms – from evening courses at your local college to e-learning tutorials in your chosen discipline. You can keep informed of industry trends by reading the latest news articles, subscribing to blogs or downloading podcasts, joining a webinar or researching TED talks.

There’s lots of options which are time efficient, flexible and affordable depending on how much you want to invest. Don’t forget that often simply being able to demonstrate your commitment to learning more and being proactive in doing so can prove very attractive to your existing (or future) employer.

3.) Create a PDP

Creating a Personal Development Plan (PDP) can help you keep track of your learning objectives and progress towards them. In a workplace environment, a PDP marks out your strengths and weakness and maps those required in the job you’re looking to take on next. It helps you understand what you need to improve on and the new skills you should focus on developing.

Whilst the major elements will likely include gaining structured training or qualifications, don’t forget that other methods of skills development should be incorporated too. Networking, work experience, job clubs, mentoring and practical use of your new knowledge for example, will all help to demonstrate the soft skills and personal strengths your employer is looking for.


Even if the goal for your professional development in 2019 become part of a long-term plan, don’t worry. It’s likely your employer will be impressed by your proactive approach to self-improvement. This could lead to being ear-marked for the next opportunity that comes along or put you in a stronger bargaining position when you need it.

For more career advice and workplace tips, make sure you click ‘subscribe’. We post weekly blog updates to help current employees and active job-seekers to make the most of their work opportunities. Or if you’re ready to make the move to a new role, get in touch with our team today on 0161 464 9870.