The Impact of Learning and Development Opportunities

It is often argued that employers increasingly expect individuals to take responsibility for managing their own careers (Sturges, Conway, Guest & Liefooghe, 2005). Career needs are defined by Chen and colleagues (2004) as personal needs for goals (e.g., a career landmark achieved), tasks (opportunities to develop in order to achieve the career goal) and challenges (future career needs arising from career developmental opportunities). In so far as career needs are highly dependent on many factors, among them individual needs, the stage employees have reached in their career, their level in the organization, career planning and management must be broad and diverse (Baruch, 2006). Opportunities for further educational and career development are important for talent retention. Neglecting to provide adequate career development programmes that satisfy the employees’ career needs can lead to a decline in job satisfaction, job performance and morale, and an increased turnover intention (Chang et al., 2007; Chen et al., 2004; Hayes et al., 2012; Schmidt, 2007). However, even if programmes are in place for further training and development, it is important to realize that these opportunities are not perceived equally at all levels and with all types of employee. For example, some employees find that the opportunities offered are inadequate or that there is insufficient organizational support to pursue their development, leading to reduced engagement and increased turnover intentions (Shuck, Twyford, Reio & Shuck, 2014). Here, the good manager, coach and mentor should identify early signs of a lacuna between opportunities and needs. At the organizational level, by understanding the career needs of individual employees, it is possible to determine the gap and design career development programmes to address the deficiencies (Chang et al., 2006; Cleary, Horsfall, Muthulakshmi, Happell & Hunt, 2013).

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