Professional Development Seen as Employment Capital

Feb. 19, 2017

Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 43, No. 1, 140–155, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explores human resource (HR) practitioners’ understandings of professional development as a form of capital for job progress.


The study used an interpretivist approach.
The first stage of data collection included the examination of 25 human resource (HR) practitioners’ personal statements in order to explore whether human resource practitioners see professional development as capital.
The second stage of data collection included a sub-sample group of 27 practitioners in a series of focus groups to collectively share perceptions of development experiences.
All participants were HR practitioners from UK university-based campuses.


Although this study explored HR practitioners, the findings suggest insights into continuing professional development applicable to teacher educators of related professional programmes, and more widely those in education. The author offers that educators need to encourage a broad view of continuing professional development and in doing so provide a counterbalance to a prevalent discourse that constrains learning to employment use.

The author argues that employers have a strategic interest in harnessing individual development with collective skills value to the organization, since an organization that fosters a learning culture is equipped with competitive advantages in adverse environments. Furthermore, professional development can support an intrinsically enriching process of continuity through longer working lives.

The findings of HR practitioners have implications for educationalists in revealing how professional learning supports practitioners’ growth in capability and self-efficacy of benefit to the individual, organisation and society. Educators need to articulate the longer-term effects of nurturing capacities for collective practice and greater self-knowledge, to contribute to societal interests.

In conclusion, the current study contributes an interpretation of professional learning as intrinsic capital; a capital of enrichment in social, cultural and educational development. The author suggests that educators should elevate the long-term value of professional development that enhances well-being, supports empowerment and supports individuals’ ability to contribute to society.

Updated: Sep. 24, 2017