Associations have always been a go-to source for professional education. In our ever-changing and increasingly digitalized world, these offerings must also evolve, and are more important than ever.
According to Wild Apricot Inc. (Canadian association software company), the following are among the top trends for associations in 2020:
In recent years, the education offered by associations has expanded from simply providing opportunities to acquire CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to include broader professional development and certification options. Association executives increasingly recognize that professional development can represent a lucrative revenue stream, while increasing engagement with membership.
Association executives increasingly recognize that professional development can represent a lucrative revenue stream while increasing engagement with membership. Through professional training, the members of an association tend to get more involved, thus promoting the loyalty of your members. As we often say, it is cheaper and easier to keep a current member than to find and recruit a new one.
Revenue and member engagement are key performance indicators (KPIs) for any professional association: professional education presents a rare opportunity to tick two boxes at once. These courses are attractive to young professionals looking to stay informed on the latest innovations and business practices.
The positive outcomes of professional education don’t end when payment arrives and the learner receives their certification. Everyone likes to share their professional achievements, and digital badges are the latest trend in this area. They are easily validated and have become ubiquitous in resumes and on social media, while concurrently promoting the association, the profession, and the industry. Everyone wins!
Now more than ever with the growth of virtual, it is essential for any professional to become an active learner and to acquire new skills on an ongoing basis. There are many reasons adult learners turn to their business network for further development.
Associations offer formal and informal learning experiences through conferences, mentoring, webinars, blended learning, online courses and networking. Their programs are more affordable and accessible than traditional post-secondary programs, and can help bridge the gap between post-secondary education to employment.
Associations that work collaboratively with post-secondary institutions and industry to identify gaps will be well-positioned to provide desirable industry-specific options. Combine that sought-after content with affordable pricing and flexible prerequisites, and you will have an educational product that will attract new learners and potentially increase membership.
For years, professionals supplemented their training by attending annual conferences where they would discuss, train and obtain continuing education units (CEUs). But even before the pandemic, we noted an evolution in learner needs.
Associations must adapt by diversifying the format and content of their training. As we have mentioned, several formats are possible: online training (lecture or interactive), group retreat, etc.: your imagination is the only limit. However, the content must respond to current trends which are moving towards more personalized, more dynamic training courses whose content remains varied in order to meet the needs of their members. It is therefore necessary to renew your content on a regular basis.
There are different tools that can be used to effectively share your training options with your current or future members.
You have probably heard of learning management systems (LMS). This software tool offers a variety of features to meet both your needs and the needs of your membership. The integration of functionality with conference/event registration and the membership database allows associations to provide members with preferential pricing on educational offerings – an additional incentive to become a member or renew membership.
By offering online training in the form of workshops or masterful presentations, you have the opportunity to reach a large audience and create a unique place for your association within your industry.
Visit our virtual events page to find out how we assist you in your virtual journey!