Ongoing professional development: Its all about your budget.

I have been in a number of agencies throughout my youth services career and only one of them had a written down budget for youth work professional development. In this organisation I had one of the largest budgets for professional development I had ever had… $1000. However in most organisations I worked in a professional development budget was at best ad hoc and at worse non-existent. 

I have heard of a number of ways to divide up a professional development budget and to tell you the truth I have not put much credence in most of them. How long you have been in the organisation? Your role requirements? Your agencies needs? None of them make any sense when you are talking about longevity in the field. When you want to develop workers to sustain your organisation and the sector you have to think outside the box, and for most organisations that means spending money.

In the mining industry here in Australia some of the best mines realised that they were losing workers because they had no reason to stay. The money was good, The work wasn’t to hard but still they were losing staff… Until they started putting money in the right place. They set up great internet, provided training opportunities and expected staff to develop themselves through courses. Everything from first aid to business development. It was open to the newest of staff and the long tremors. From the lowest paid to the highest paid. The expectation was that you did something.

At Ultimate Youth Worker we would love to offer an unlimited budget for professional development but like every youth organisation we have to balance our budget too. In our case we devote 3% of our yearly budget for staffing to professional development. If you earn $50,000 you have a professional development budget of $1,500. We ask our staff to develop a professional development plan that has some things for us as an organisation and some areas that they want to work on. If they want to work on something that is outside the purview of the work we do we ask them to demonstrate how it would support the work we do in the future. If it would support us or the sectors development we are happy to provide the finances within the 3%. We also offer employees further development above the 3% as needed however as a minimum that 3% is always in our budget.

What does your organisation do? Perhaps you can start providing a guarantee for your employees!  

Leave us a comment below!

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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