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Potential barriers and constraints in relation to professional development in adult care

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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For this assessment criterion, you will be required to critically evaluate the potential barriers and constraints in your working environment in accessing professional development. Some of the areas that you may wish to consider are explored below.

Workforce development strategy and planning

We have previously discussed the importance of workforce development strategy and planning to identify current and future training needs and how they will be delivered. This should take into account budgetary limitations as well as other restrictions, such as the amount of time that team members have to undertake training without impacting service delivery. As you develop new and innovative ideas to plan and deliver learning and development, this may be met by resistance from others – change can induce feelings of fear, uncertainty and doubt which must be managed effectively.

Financial budgets to support workforce development planning and delivery

Whilst professional development throughout your organisation should be high on the agenda, realistically there will be financial budgets that will restrict what can be provided. It will be your responsibility to balance training needs against what is affordable and prioritise training provisions accordingly. Mandatory training must be provided to ensure that your organisation adheres to legislation, regulation and best practices and so this will be the starting point for your training budget. Any additional training must be prioritised and care should be taken to ensure that training is provided in the most cost-effective manner, without impacting quality.

Financial contributions of staff to support the costs of training

You may consider asking for financial contributions from staff to support the costs of non-mandatory training, particularly learning and development that they wish to pursue as a matter of personal interest. However, staff may be unable or unwilling to contribute themselves and this could create inequality in training opportunities as team members from a lower socio-economic class may not have the same access as those that can afford it.

You may offer to part-fund training that a staff member wishes to undertake, providing it fits in with the objectives of your workforce development objectives and will be beneficial to the organisation.

You may provide support to help staff members source funding for their own professional development, which could include local and national funding, apprenticeships and bursaries.

Return and impact on investment

You should have systems and processes in place to measure the return on investment of workplace training and how it impacts service delivery. This can be used to evaluate your workplace development strategy and inform future planning and delivery.

Poor time management and commitment of staff

If staff have poor time management skills or lack the commitment to professional development, it can hamper the efforts of your workforce development plan. Staff should understand the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and how it relates to delivering high-quality, safe and effective services. In addition, a positive culture of continual learning and development should be cultivated throughout your organisation.

You should also consider the time that staff have to spend on professional development activities and may put policies in place to ensure that they get ‘protected CPD time‘ in their schedule, during which they will not be disturbed.

Quality of training delivery and support

As stated previously, you should have systems and processes in place to measure the quality of any training undertaken by staff. Learner questionnaires at the end of a training session can be used to get the learner’s perspectives on the training that they have received and identify areas for improvement.

When choosing a training provider, you should try to balance cost and quality – the lowest-cost provider may not always be the best choice, particularly if practice does not improve as a result of the training. In these cases, you will not only have lost the cost of training with very little return but also the costs related to staff having time away from their normal duties, which will far outweigh the cost of a more expensive provider.

Insufficient or high turnover of staff

Low levels of staff can create a barrier to professional development because all staff’s time will be prioritised on service delivery. Similarly, a high turnover of staff will mean that the costs related to training them will have been lost when they leave. These two factors are often interlinked as an overworked staff team will often develop work-related stress and burnout, which can lead to them seeking alternative employment.

To manage this, you will need to ensure that your organisation is able to recruit and retain staff in sufficient numbers so that there is a backfill to facilitate professional development.

Access to nationally recognised qualifications and/or apprenticeships

As a manager, you should be aware of which nationally recognised qualifications/apprenticeships fit in with your workforce development strategy so that you can offer them to staff members. The promise of learning, development and advancement can aid staff recruitment and retainment, attract motivated candidates and improve the quality of service that your organisation provides.

Levels of informal training

Informal training is often an under-utilised resource in health and social care organisations that can have a tremendous effect on professional development, as well as team-working and staff morale. Methods such as mentoring, coaching and budding can provide team members with learning opportunities and support when they need it.

Whilst team members may support one another naturally, you may wish to promote the use of these methods throughout your organisation to enhance professional development.

Personal motivation and the impact on life balance for individuals

The personal motivation of staff and the impact on their life balance can also be a barrier to professional development. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that each individual has the right motivation and understanding of the work that is required to undertake a qualification. For example, the Level 5 Diploma can take up to two years to complete and learners must have the determination to see the task through to the end, without falling behind.

Delivering training in a way that is interesting and accommodates each individual’s unique learning style may be beneficial.

Levels of language, literacy and numeracy amongst workforce

Levels of literacy, numeracy and the English language can all be barriers to effective professional development. Team members that require additional support in these areas may lack confidence when attending training or not be able to make the best use of training opportunities. We have previously explored how individuals with learning needs should be supported in their learning.

Level of IT skills

Similarly, if individuals do not have basic IT skills, they may not be able to access e-learning, connect to webinars or web conferences or be able to write up essays on their computer. Therefore, as managers, we may need to provide additional training in this area to support their professional development.

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