It’s hard to argue against the value of continuing education. That said, it’s sometimes hard to find the time and resources to take classes. Fortunately for those who serve the residents of New Hampshire, there is a convenient option.
SEA member Kate McGovern, an associate professor for the state’s Bureau of Education & Training (BET), said her program provides valuable and affordable training for state, local, county and federal workers.
“It offers employees an opportunity not only to enhance their skills and opportunities for career mobility, but it also offers the opportunity to share experiences with colleagues,” McGovern said.
There are single courses and several longer-term programs, all aiming to foster professional growth and learning in the public sector. Courses include computer training and topics such as conflict resolution; classes vary from a half-day to three days, with tuition ranging from $35 to $140. Typically, the employer covers the fee, McGovern said, and workers can often attend classes on work time.
McGovern said course participation is lower than they’d like, and said a few factors might be at play. For one, many agencies have faced budget cuts and training is often one of the line items slashed. Another problem, she said, is that people may not even know the program exists.
Still another barrier is that many have their hands full at work, having taken on extra duties.
“When you’re busy, it’s hard to take the time to step away and prioritize training,” she said.
That might be all the more reason to carve out time, though, McGovern said.
“I think it helps morale to be able to step out of the workplace for a period of time and dig into a subject, then come back with a different perspective and some new ideas,” she said. “I think it helps people not only do better at their jobs, but they come back refreshed and incorporate new ideas.”
The longer-term programs at BET, such as the Certified Public Supervisor program and Certified Public Manager program, help prepare workers for leadership positions. Completion of each of those programs counts toward supervisory experience on applications for state jobs, a valuable benefit for someone looking to move into a supervisor role.
Cheryl Classon, the supervisor of the Direct Shipping Unit at the Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, completed the supervisor program at BET in May and immediately enrolled in the manager program. She considers the program “extraordinarily valuable.”
“I’ve only been a state employee for two years, and I came from a corporate environment, so the learning curve was pretty steep,” said Classon, who is also an SEA member. “I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to be a supervisor.”
Classon also has taken part in the Continuous Improvement Practitioner program, which provides a certification in Lean process improvement techniques. The next step for her is to actually facilitate a team in a three-day Lean process project at another state agency.
“They don’t recommend you facilitate a program inside your agency,” she said. “But once you finish the program, you become a coordinator and that’s where you benefit your agency. The coordinator tries to help with getting workers excited about Lean and really having a say in how they do the job they do.”
McGovern said teaching the Lean process has been exciting, and they’re hoping more workers will get involved.
“For workers, it’s really nice to not only be asked how to make things better, but to see it implemented, too,” she said.
McGovern added that workers can help make the BET program better, too.
“If there’s something they don’t see that they think would be valuable, we would love to have input and be able to add courses,” she said.
Have you benefited from taking courses through the Bureau of Education & Training? Tell us about it in the comments section below.