Updated: Mar 7
Workforce development can include changes to culture, changes to attitudes, and changes to people’s potential that help to positively influence a business’ future success.
Workforce development works by preparing workers with the skills necessary for a specific type of job. It prioritizes the value of ongoing workplace education and skills development, as well as addresses the hiring demands of employers
Workforce development helps to create a culture of learning and constructive attitudes that builds a workforce’s tangible and intangible abilities to manage and deal with future challenges.
Workforce development is also sometimes referred to as employee development and is considered an important aspect of business success.
Because the goal of workplace development is to place workers in jobs where there are career development opportunities — and to nurture that development — a company can ensure they have an adequate supply of qualified individuals for their needs.
When an employee feels like their leadership skills are being valued and nurtured, they are less likely to leave a company.
Workforce development is different from workplace training.
Workplace training is often focused on a specific job or skill that is necessary to know immediately in order to perform an employee’s job. It is generally a compulsory component of employment and urgent in nature, whereas workforce development is considered a more long-term, ongoing strategy to help improve a workforce.
Workforce development can include skills such as public speaking, presentation building, and leadership development.
Technology is the continued way of the future!
While classroom learning may have been the way of the past, online development opportunities are the key to the future.
Not only does this not interrupt workflow, but it also helps remove obstacles to on-the-job learning, and allows employees to choose the times that work best for their learning style.
Discussion forums, videos, self-paced e Learning courses, webinars, and resource banks are just some of the development tools that can help employees.
Learning, not training.
Some employees may not like the idea of mandatory training, whereas presenting opportunities as being simply about learning a new skill or developing an interest can increase uptake. Learning opportunities can include mentorship, group brainstorm sessions, online programs, or trying something new without the fear of failure.
Communication is key!
Having regular and transparent discussions about business objectives and employee goals will help ensure everyone is on the same page and creates a supportive relationship between employer and employee. Getting real-time feedback from employees can quickly tell you if a development strategy is working, and how to fix it if it isn’t.
Arguably the most important strategy for workforce development is to let the learner set the what, where, and how of their development. This way, they can focus on the skills they need to develop for their roles, without wasting time on something they already know.
By incorporating smaller chunks of easily-accessible learning into an employee’s daily work, they are more likely to participate and benefit from workforce development programs
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Meet Our Amazing Instructors
Alex Horton is a scholar of African American Studies, Master’s student in Social Work at the University of Illinois, and founding member of the Ubuntu Project.
Femi Fletcher is the current Human Resources Generalist for the City of Urbana, Illinois. A strategic business partner with over 20 years of professional experience in local government administrative experience, she works in a broad range of human resource functions, including recruitment and selection, benefits administration, organizational development, human resource compliance, and employee and labor relations. She obtained an Associate’s degree in English Literature from Parkland College and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Organizational & Professional Development from Eastern Illinois University. She holds designation as a Certified Human Resources Professional from the Society of Human Resources Management and has been recognized as a winner of Central Illinois Business Magazine’s Forty under 40 award.
A Champaign-Urbana native, Fletcher takes pride in being able to serve the community she calls home. She believes strongly building and supporting our communities are imperative to creating a healthy society. From 2018 -2020, Fletcher served on the Board
of Directors at Courage Connection, an organization that offers a wide range of services to survivors of domestic abuse - a demographic that disproportionately affects minority and underserved populations. Her work and experiences have been featured in a number of conferences and media stories, including the G.O.A.L.S Project’s “I Believe” conference for teen parents, Illinois Youth Media’s 2020 Oral History Project, the News-Gazette, and the Wall Street Journal. She also is a writer, freelance editor, and Human Resource consultant for small businesses.