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Creating member learning with impact

| 3 Min Read

Industry Member Associations are increasingly finding ways to increase value for their members and industry sector, going beyond a networking and advocacy focus. A crucial aspect that can significantly contribute to the success and growth of both the association and its members is a well-crafted member education program. Member education significantly increases the value of membership in an Association, which can positively impact members’ CPD activity, and also create new potential for members to upskill and develop new capabilities. With almost two thirds of Associations reporting that their members are taking advantage of most professional development opportunities they offer, ensuring that your Association can provide a robust set of education opportunities is an excellent way to drive both new membership and ongoing retention.

In this article, we look at some approaches that Industry Member Associations should consider to develop impactful learning programs that meet the needs of their members, while addressing the evolving demands of the industry.

Understanding the Needs of Your Members:

The foundation of an effective education program lies in understanding the learners it serves. Industry Member Associations have an advantage here, often with a pre-existing understanding of their members' needs, aims, and career goals and how they align with that of the industry. Leveraging this knowledge enables associations to create impactful learning that is targeted to the development needs of their individual and organisational members.

Before curating an education program, it is worth considering your information on your members and how it can inform your learning development. This is an opportunity to extend your members' CPD requirements; consider what you know about the pain points among your members, their organisations and potential career progression paths and leadership opportunities that your members might wish to pursue, and plan how you can help support those aims. Extending your lens to include such inputs helps inform topics that will be valuable to your membership, letting you plan relevant learning and upskilling opportunities.

Gathering Additional Information:

Whilst existing or tacit knowledge is a great starting point, Industry Member Associations should actively seek additional information on members' preferences. Consider conducting surveys and directly soliciting feedback on topics your members would be interested in learning more about. By directly involving members in the planning process, Associations can get first-hand information to identify skill demands, preferred learning formats, and the overall appetite for specific educational offerings among their membership.

Practical Requirements:

As you consider your member knowledge, and as you gather additional information, it is important to factor the practical requirements of your members. In most cases, members of an Association will be geographically dispersed and frequently balancing any learning they undertake against their professional responsibilities, making flexible learning methods essential. Online courses, webinars and self-paced learning are important elements of delivering a successful course, and other support features or services can provide additional value for members. Building a clear vision of the practical needs of your members helps you deliver learning that is accessible, supportive and provides optimal value.

Industry Needs:

Whilst targeting the needs of individual members ideally should help address the needs of industry in parallel, it isn’t always that simple. Your knowledge of upcoming technological, structural or regulatory changes that may impact your industry will help you create learning that will prepare your members to meet the future needs they might not yet be impacted by. Supporting both your members and the wider industry as a whole in preparing for the future as well as the present is a compelling value proposition.


Developing a Learning Plan:

A well-structured learning plan serves as the roadmap for effective member education and should reflect all that you know of the needs of your members and your industry.

With the knowledge you have gathered on your learners and your sector, you can create a plan for your learning that supports the needs goals and objectives of your members. As part of a learning plan, the learning methodologies you will use to support this are very important choices, such as micro-credentials for targeted skill development, scenario-based learning for practical application, and gameful design principles to aid increased engagement.

Accessing Support:

For an already busy Association, planning, creating and deploying your learning program can seem like a lot, but thankfully, not every aspect of your learning strategy has to be handled internally. A partnership with organisations such as Guroo Learning can give you access to various support services, covering everything from initial learning design to solutions that will help you deploy, scale, and promote your member learning options. With dedicated support, Associations can unlock the benefits of an impactful education offering, bringing real value to your members.

Partnership with learning specialists can also facilitate links with higher education institutions, giving Associations access to a range of pre-existing learning resources that can be used to accelerate the learning development process.

Industry Member Associations play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their members and the industries they represent. By understanding member needs, gathering relevant information, addressing practical requirements, aligning with industry needs, and developing a robust learning plan, associations can create member education programs that make a lasting impact. 

Accessing support from learning design experts and educational institutions further enhances the effectiveness of these programs, ensuring that members are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an ever-changing professional landscape. As Industry Member Associations continue to evolve, investing in member education becomes not only a strategic move but a commitment to the long-term success of both the association and its members.