Professional development seen as employment capital

Margaret Mackay

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Practitioners need to invest in professional development to enhance credibility, job security and employment prospects. Employer expectations of continuing development as a performance measure link to the notion of career capital; namely that knowledge competence influences job advancement. This study uses an interpretavist approach to explore whether human resource practitioners see professional development as capital. The findings reveal that individuals appreciate the impact of development in confidence, self-efficacy and resilience. This study illustrates the deeper psychological value of continuous learning which diverges from the prevalent career literature assumptions of professional development to increase earnings. The implication for educators is to challenge an impoverished view of professional development limited to career advantage. Professional development can sustain individual growth, optimism and empower individuals to fulfil their potential in contributing to society. In articulating a wider appreciation of ongoing development, educators provide a counterbalance to a restrictive managerial view of professional education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-155
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Issue number1
Early online date23 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • professional development
  • career capital
  • social capital
  • continuous learning
  • employment


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