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Content + strategy + technology = effective education

Continuing education comes in all shapes and sizes – seminars, webinars, MOOCs, conferences. And with all types of price tags.

According to Abila, organizations spend more than $160 billion per year on continuing education. In addition, a recent survey by Abila shows 42 percent of an association’s revenue comes from professional education and training.

But the increasing amount of free and low-cost education options have some organizations concerned. That’s why now, more than ever, organizations need  a strategic education plan, technology and content, Abila says.

In a recent report, Abila broke down results from its 2016 Member Engagement Study, which found for millennials and Gen Xers, continuing education is one of the top reasons for belonging to an association.

Key findings:

  • Enticing younger members to participate in education and training programs is challenging. While Baby Boomers view associations as the No. 1 resource, millennials and GenXers turn to their employers for opportunities.
  • Content is key to creating a successful education program. Prices can fluctuate but without content, a CE program isn’t possible. And content can be the deciding factor between one of your programs and one of your competitor’s.
  • Finding the right technology tools and learning management platforms are challenging for associations. In fact, only one-third or fewere of professionals surveyed are “very satisfied” with current technological tools.
  • There seems to be a discrepancy between associations and members when charging for CE programs. According to the survey, most members want training to be included in dues, but only about one-third of associations offer than option.

“Individuals are looking for every edge they can gain, every skill they can sharpen, every advantage they can take,” Abila says. “Associations are aware of this shift, and a majority (about 60 percent) have adjusted in the last couple of years to adapt to the changing tides. However, many (about 40 percent) have only made small adjustments or no changes at all to their professional development and education programs. For associations to be successful, and to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for education and development, it’s imperative to continue to evolve.”

Abila offers some tips for associations.

  • Evaluate current education programs – If fewer than 60 percent of members participate, it’s time to change things up.
  • Engage different generations differently – Understand the needs of your members based on where they are in their careers.
  • Offer practical content – Data suggest one-hour, in-person courses are the best format for busy professionals.

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