“Learning communities provide a space and a structure for people to align around a shared goal. Effective communities are both aspirational and practical.” This is a key message of Harvard University’s Centre on the Developing Child, and it applies throughout life, notably in the university environment.
Why is a learning community important?
Participants in learning communities share results and learn from each other, thereby improving their ability to achieve rapid progress and acquire more knowledge.
Students enrol in one course and frequently find that they are motivated by their communities as well as within themselves to move into further study, often ending up with a qualification they once considered out of reach.
The culture of continuous learning is evident in the rapidly growing number of students in the Public Sector Management Program (PSMP) who find the program a valuable step towards advancement in work and life.
They are inspired to leverage their attainment of this academic credential and continue toward the completion of degrees such as an MBA.
2022 MBA graduate Tracey Jefferies, for instance, is now considering a Master of Philosophy.
“I have been really lucky to have had the chance to complete an MBA at QUT following my PSMP postgraduate certificate. Often people don’t fully understand the pathways available following this credential program.
For the public service looking for impact from their investment in developing their people, I can confirm that my study has benefited my career and my community.”
Similarly, a recent participant in a Melbourne cohort of the PSMP, Simon Li, not only achieved High Distinctions in all units, but he was also inspired to build on that acquired knowledge. As a result, he applied for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mid-Career Master in Public Administration, Class of 2023, and is now in Boston to begin that program.
The most important thing is to “Just start!”
That’s the advice of Kristen Walker, who completed the Graduate Certificate in Business (Enterprise Leadership).
“I had taken on a new management role at my organisation and felt that updating/gaining current skills in business would benefit both myself and the organisation. I was seeking a new challenge and was looking for something that would provide skills that would help take my career up a level. I needed education that would help me stand out from the pack and would expose me to current leadership and business thinking.”
Moreover, employers are increasingly recognising this increased aspiration as a means of attracting and retaining staff.
Why is learning important for career development?
In the July issue of McKinsey Quarterly, consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that the top reason workers quit jobs was lack of career development and advancement. Workplace learning helps both employees and employers gain knowledge and skill and the practical applications of those abilities while they work.
Almost three-quarters of employed respondents to this 2021-2022 study said they would not find it difficult to obtain a job that pays the same or better, thus highlighting the need for employers to take non-financial drivers of attrition seriously.
In “Insights from Five Years at the Helm”, Forbes Business Council member Michael Lee encourages employers and employees to embrace the opportunity to learn from others – the community effect.
Prioritize professional development and absorb as much as you can about the organization,
the industry, your competitors and leadership. Read every day. Embrace constructive criticism and use feedback to get better,” Michael Lee urges.