Professional development trends in IT

Big Stock rendering of human brain

Professional development is changing. Gone are the days when employees are expected to go on formal day, week - or even long-term training course to learn professional skills, with more worker or personality-led learning taking precedence.

Technology has allowed businesses to be much more flexible, offering micro-learning courses using immersive media such as video, virtual reality or adapting the content to each employee's personal needs. Social media is also playing a big role, allowing workers to find new connections and learn from their peers rather than in a formal learning environment.

This tailored way of teaching means an employee is more likely to be engaged and motivated to build upon their skills, making them more productive and commited to your organisation.


Micro-learning as a professional development trend really started last year, but its popularity as a way to build your knowledge around your industry has exploded in 2017, especially with the adoption of video-led micro-learning.

Instead of long-term training schemes - whether to obtain official qualifications or to develop your skills in a more informal manner - micro-learning puts training into bite-sized pieces at the time when you specifically need it to help you digest the information and learn in a more tailored way. One hugely effective way for employees to develop their professional skills is through video micro-learning.

The beauty of micro-learning for professional learning is that the onus is on the person taking part in the training to discipline themselves to take time out (even just a few minutes) to learn about something they're invested into, making it a more manageable task.

Gamification and VR

There's nothing more engaging than picking up a virtual reality headset and putting yourself in a virtual scenario where your skills are put to the limit; it is a top way to develop your professional skills.

Virtual reality goes hand-in-hand with gamification - putting yourself in an artificial environment where your skills are put to the test. In fact, gamification is a huge HR and recruitment trend and has been for the last few years, with the main benefit to see how a candidate would respond to a certain situation.

The premise for professional development is no different. It takes the burden off traditional learning techniques, making it a more enjoyable experience that relates directly to an individual's training needs.

Adaptive learning

Like micro-learning, adaptive learning has been developed to help employees learn at their own pace, developing new skills when they're needed rather than being told they need to go on a formal course and being forced to adapt their personality to the content.

Learning experiences are automatically personalised using machine learning, determining the skills the employee will need at that specific point, based on their personal profile and developing a course for them.

It's a great way of implementing employee-focused learning that offers much better learning outcomes because the employee can understand how it's more relevant to their own role and personality.

Using Linkedin

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools you can use to not only expand your network, connect with others in your industry and apply for jobs, but it's also a crucial tool for building your personal profile and expanding your knowledge.

Connecting with like-minded people means you can keep on top of industry trends and by questioning and answering questions either posed by peers or in one of the thousands of IT-focused groups, it's a key learning tool too.

Writing thought leadership articles on subjects you know (and feel passionate about) can help you interact with others in your field and they may also suggest solutions to your challenges, which can help you expand your horizons.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.