The PDC at Midyear– Taking Stock, Looking Ahead
Interested in growing professionally, and doing it without going into massive debt? It can be done right here in the Boston area where, since 2010, the Professional Development Collaborative has offered hundreds of affordable professional growth courses. PDC’s course offerings highlight the organization’s mission: to provide the personal and professional development required for 21st century lifelong employment. Since January 2016, it has offered 21 courses ranging from a four-part “Introduction to the Microsoft Office Suite” (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) to “Creating an Effective Business Plan.”
The PDC catalogue has evolved since 2010 to incorporate more than 65 different courses, roughly organized into seven categories: Business Development, Professional Development, Personal Development, Project Management, General Management, Fundraising and the Microsoft Office Suite. “The list of courses reflects evolving skill demands in the workplace as well as requests from PDC participants and ideas proposed by potential instructors,” said PDC’s founder and president, Larry Elle.
Since its launch in 2010, the PDC has relied on volunteer contributors as well as a small staff with solid knowledge of the greater Boston business environment to create an affordable training resource for unemployed professionals seeking a return to work. “We also have strong connections to several of the area career centers,” Elle continued, “whose staff provide us with a timely recognition of workforce needs and in-demand skills.” In addition, the PDC team keeps an eye on training offered by both for-profit and academic competitors like area community colleges, to identify subjects where PDC might provide a comparable course at a more affordable price. Over the recent past, additions to the PDC curriculum reflecting workplace trends and worker interest include “Introduction to Salesforce,” “Introduction to Sharepoint,” “Emotional Freedom Techniques” and “Negotiations.”
By contrast, some of the courses in the PDC curriculum have been included from the outset. Two topics at the top of that list are project management and fundraising. “These are two skills which are historically in demand,” said Elle. “Introduction to Grant Writing” is offered at least twice annually, and generally attracts some of the largest enrollments among PDC offerings – 38 students participated in the most recent class, held in July in Cambridge. Then there are the topics where interest wanes as employment evolves. “Our Six Sigma and Lean trainings are less in demand these days,” Elle notes, “as the state’s manufacturing base has continued to shrink.”
Courses are occasionally postponed or canceled due to inclement weather or instructor illness. Rarer are cancellations resulting from poor enrollment, but they do occur – in 2016, both “Speak With Confidence” and “Double Your Productivity” were called off because of low registration. Elle says he will hold off on reintroducing those subjects unless there is demand in the future.
Elle has established a deep bench of PDC course instructors, including industry experts who bring a depth of experience. “The WIND network has provided us with a number of instructors over the years,” said Elle. “And when those folks have returned to full employment, they have sometimes referred us to others who can step in to teach a class or workshop.” Elle also maintains a strong personal network which he calls on when needed. “And we’ve added a ‘train the trainer’ component, to help those who know their topic but may not know much about training or teaching adults,” he noted.
Currently, PDC classes are held in Cambridge and Framingham in concert with local career centers, and at Trinity Church in Canton, which also hosts meetings of the WIND South networking group. “The Career Source location in Cambridge has been a successful venue for us,” Elle said, “because it is accessible by both MBTA and automobile, with considerable free parking. But recently, we have enhanced our partnership with the Employment & Training Resources Career Center, which operates in Norwood and Framingham.” “We expect to expand our offerings with them significantly in the months ahead.” Always looking forward, Elle also has a vision to benefit the Commonwealth’s small businesses, seeing the PDC as a potential resource for companies which lack training capacity but whose workers need new or enhanced skills to remain competitive and productive.
The complete PDC course catalogue is online at pdcboston.org/courses/intro/. Individual courses are generally announced six to four weeks in advance, and are posted on the PDC homepage at pdcboston.org. On offer for late September are “Proactive Management,” “WordPress” and “Project Management Essentials.” Have a course request or suggestion, or a topic you’d like to teach? Contact Larry Elle, PDC president, at Larry.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Blomquist, a writer and editor, can be reached at email@example.com.