Partnering with Western University for Talent Development
Posted: Feb 08, 2017
By: Megan Weekley
Last week the Human Resources Professionals Association annual conference was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. My colleagues and I represented Western University in the trade show area to showcase the many ways Western can work with human resources professionals at their workplaces. From hiring Western grads, to co-op and practicum placements, to professional development courses and corporate training, there are many ways Western assists with the various roles and responsibilities of human resources professionals.
One thing that really stood out to me from the moment the trade show area opened up: Western Alumni are a proud bunch! My colleagues and I had so many lovely visits from Alumni of all ages who simply wanted to stop by and say hello and share a story about their Western experience. If they weren’t Alumni, they were parents of future Alumni who stopped by to share their Western story about their son or daughter who is now attending our school.
As much as I could have talked all day with our Alumni, I also had many great conversations with HR professionals about an area of their job that greatly interests me – learning and development. As the Corporate Learning Coordinator for Western Continuing Studies, I was happy to participate in some engaging discussions with trade show attendees about learning and development at their workplaces. I would estimate that approximately half of the HR professionals I spoke with had direct responsibility over learning and development at their organization. Some of their responsibilities included: developing and managing employee funding programs for training, working with departmental leaders to determine training and development strategy for their organization, and driving talent development for effective organizational succession planning.
It was also of interest to me to learn that a significant number of HR professionals I spoke with identified the focus on soft skills as a much needed area of talent development. This mirrors not only what we’re seeing in our professional development programs at Western Continuing Studies, but also what current research is saying about in-demand workplace skills. According to one study, 77 percent of employers believe that soft skills (like attitude, critical thinking, adaptability…etc.) are just as important as hard skills (measurable skills that are learned to perform a specific job function). Additionally, research shows us that there is significant payoff for organizations who invest in soft skills development. Organizations demonstrated an impressive average return on investment of $4,000 for every $1,100 spent developing soft skills. For HR professionals who have identified soft skills improvement as a key area of talent development, it appears your instincts are right on target!
Thank you to all HRPA conference attendees who stopped by our booth, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2018!