What is the Professional Development Academy?

The Professional Development Academy is dedicated to providing tailored training programs to foster career growth for targeted staff groups and to support Duke's staffing needs. The goals of the Academy include improving retention and strengthening workforce commitment, developing the skills and capabilities of staff, and supporting Duke's commitment to diversity.

Why was the Professional Development Academy established?

The Professional Development Academy was established to expand Duke's staff development opportunities and support the staffing needs of Duke. Developing the skills and talents of current Duke Staff to fill critical job needs through internal promotion or transfer has several advantages over hiring external candidates. Some of these advantages include enhanced productivity and proficiency, a shortened learning curve because incumbents are familiar with the Duke culture, increased loyalty and retention due to investment in our own workforce, increased staff satisfaction with more career development opportunities, a more diverse workforce throughout Duke's organization, and cost effectiveness gained through reduced turnover and improved productivity.

Why were office staff jobs chosen as a program of the Academy, and what is the goal of the program?

The continuing demand for skilled and committed office staff to handle critical administrative responsibilities is reflected in Duke's weekly job vacancy listing. Even with vacancy management, the number of vacancies in office staff positions has consistently remained at a high level due to growth within Duke University and Duke Health programs and restructuring of departments' needs. Duke frequently finds itself competing in the local market to attract well-qualified and experienced staff for these key positions.

These job levels were also selected because they span across the university and health system and because short-term, intensive training would help qualify participants for higher-level jobs. The goal of the Foundational Skills Program is to provide participants with the necessary skills to transition successfully within Duke. For the next class, scheduled to begin in May 2023, staff in service areas in job levels 2-5 and B1 and B2 are targeted to better assist filling level 5, 6, 7 and B2 and B3 positions.

Why should a manager support a staff's involvement in the Academy program if she/he may be promoted into another position outside of the department?

The Professional Development Academy's mission supports the career goals of individual staff as well as the internal staffing needs of Duke. By strengthening the skills of Duke Staff, managers will have access to a deeper pool of talent with specific knowledge and experience at Duke. Providing staff with opportunities to develop and grow within Duke is also a leading driver to employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Participation in the program can assure that a staff member will remain in his/her current department for the 36-week program and at Duke for another 24 months after the program.

Working with Rewards & Recognition, a manager may also explore the possibility of reclassification for the position currently held by the staff member. The department would then benefit directly from the program. Managers with staff members in previous classes have reported an immediate positive impact on staff when their program participation begins.

How many hours per week will a staff member be away from the job during regular work hours and what will it cost the department?

During the 36-week program, scheduled to begin in May 2023, participants will need to be released from their regular work schedule to cover the training time. The remaining training may be outside a participant's normal work schedule. For more information about training time commitments, please see the Foundational Skills Program home page.

The payroll for the participant is reported on their primary time card with their department.  The Professional Development Academy will reimburse the department for 50% of the hours in the program each week at the participant’s normal hourly wage rate.

Will the manager be informed of a staff's progress in the program?

It is important for managers to actively support training and coaching of their staff who participate. The Academy encourages participants and managers to discuss their experience in the program regularly, both with supervisors and co-workers.

What will happen if involvement in the Academy's program begins to interfere with a staff member's work performance?

A participant's current job must remain his/her first priority; therefore, if involvement in the program begins to interfere with current job performance, measures can be put in place to address the problem. Professional development specialists will work with the manager and participant to help identify and address issues affecting work performance.

How can a manager support a staff member's involvement in the program?

A manager can support a staff member by providing: 1) a flexible schedule for the staff member to participate in classes and work experience, 2) provide ongoing performance feedback to the staff member, 3) opportunities for the staff member to practice new skills on the current job, and 4) support and encouragement throughout the program.

Managers also can support participants by hiring them for existing vacancies upon completion of the program. This support from managers is critical to the success of the program.

What other opportunities are available for managers who want to get involved in the Academy?

Managers can serve as mentors and work experience hosts. Support from managers is also needed to hire graduates of the program.

For more information, please contact Marjorie Siegert at the Professional Development Academy by email at marjorie.siegert@duke.edu.