Weekend Poll Results: Professional Development through Conferences

With thanks to all who participated, here are the results of my latest weekend poll. Our focus: What role do conferences play in your professional development?

73%  of you plan to attend at least one conference this year

… and 49% of respondents are planning on attending two or more conferences in 2017. Readers don’t seem to take going to conferences for granted. Some readers noted that costs and the scope of sessions impact ability to attend.

While 18% of you reported that you’ll attend the same number as last year, 36% are anticipating a decrease in the number of conferences they’ll attend. Another 32% will see an increase over last year’s conference activity.

Where will your conferences take you? 52% of respondents anticipate attending local conferences, and the same percentage anticipate attending national conferences.  International conferences (which needn’t necessarily imply international travel for all participants) is in the cards for 50% of respondents.

Who funds your attendance at conferences?  More than a third of respondents said these are jointly funded, by both the admin. professional and the employer. 27% of you fund participation yourselves, while another 27% have employers who fund your participation in conferences. 74% of you are able to secure time off with pay to attend these important events.

What’s your priority in attending a conference?  What’s most important to you: hard or soft skills, or is it the networking or inspiration? Readers reported the need to return to the office with tangible takeaways, broadened skill sets and awareness of business markets. Check the data below to compare your priorities with your peers’.

THE DATA

Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options, and/or offered comments.

Do you plan to participate in a conference this year as part of your professional development?

  • Yes:  73% of respondents
  • No:  17% of respondents
  • 10% of respondents selected “Other”. Comments came in as follows.
    • Yes, but am still looking for one to attend that isn’t in a vacation destination
    • Conference – Training – Workshops
    • Maybe

 

How many conferences do you anticipate attending this year?

  • None: 17% of respondents
  • 1: 31% of respondents
  • 2: 21% of respondents
  • 3: 21% of respondents
  • 4:  7% of respondents
  • 3% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented that the decision will depend on topics and costs, etc.

 

How many conferences did you attend last year?

  • None: 17of respondents
  • 1:  35% of respondents
  • 2: 24% of respondents
  • 3:  10% of respondents
  • 4:   7% of respondents
  • 5: 3.5% of respondents
  •  3.5% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented that s/he attends one to two conferences a year.

 

How will your participation in conferences this year compare with last year’s?

  • Same as last year: 18% of respondents
  • Decrease in participation 36%  of respondents
  • Increase in participation:  32% of respondents
  • 14% of respondents selected “Other”. Comments were as follows.
    • Depends on cost and on the topics or workshops being presented
    • Not allowed to go and too expensive to self-fund
    • Decrease is due to change in currency rate

 

Will you attend a local/regional conference this year?

  • Yes:  52of respondents
  • No:  41% of respondents
  • 7% of respondents selected “Other”.  Comments included “Usually cost less than one out of home country” and “Maybe”.

 

Will you attend a national conference this year?

  • Yes:  52of respondents
  • No:  38% of respondents
  • 10% of respondents selected “Other”. Readers commented, “Maybe”, “It’s in the budget” and “Yes, if I can find one not in a vacation destination”.

 

Will you attend an international conference this year?

  • Yes:  50of respondents
  • No:  43% of respondents
  • 7% of respondents selected “Other”.  One person commented that it depends on the cost and conference format, and another wrote, “As a speaker!”

 

Are you more likely to attend a conference focused on administrative skills, or one that is sector focused?

  • Admin.-focused:  58% of respondents
  • Admin.-focused and specific to my sector:  38% of respondents. One commented that both are important.
  • Sector-specific: 4% of respondents

 

Who funds your participation in such conferences?

  • It’s jointly funded; my employer covers a portion of the expenses and I fund the balance:  38% of respondents
  • I do:  27% of respondents
  • My employer does: 27% of respondents
  • 8% of respondents selected “Other”. One person wrote that some Companies do not invest in funding conferences that do not provide certificates, and another wrote, “My employer does not rate these”.

 

Are you able to secure time off with pay for participation in conferences?

  • Yes:  74of respondents
  • No:  22% of respondents – One person commented that s/he takes time from their annual vacation plan
  • Not applicable, as this occurs outside office hours: 4%

 

On a scale of 1 (low priority) to 5 (key priority), how important is it to you to develop/refine hard or technical skills at such conferences?

  • 1 (good to have opportunity available, but not my primary focus):  16of respondents
  • 2:  4% of respondents
  • 3:  16% of respondents
  • 4:  36% of respondents
  • 5 (a top priority and my key focus for the conference):  24% of respondents
  • 4% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented that companies will not invest in storytelling, or in events that are not job-related

On a scale of 1 (low priority) to 5 (key priority), how important is it to you to develop/refine soft skills at such conferences?

  • 1 (good to have opportunity available, but not my primary focus):  0% of respondents
  • 2:  8% of respondents
  • 3:  17% of respondents
  • 4:  42% of respondents
  • 5 (a top priority and my key focus for the conference):  33% of respondents

 

On a scale of 1 (low priority) to 5 (key priority), how important is it to you to secure inspiration/motivation at such conferences?

  • 1 (good to have opportunity available, but not my primary focus):  8.33% of respondents
  • 2:  8.33% of respondents
  • 3:  8.33% of respondents
  • 4:  25% of respondents
  • 5 (a top priority and my key focus for the conference):  50% of respondents

 

I also invited readers to identify any additional priorities you have in attending conferences. Here are some themes, with those that were repeated near the top of the list.

  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
  • To find resources
  • Tangible learnings I can share with other admins at my job and show my boss
  • To stay up to date with the changes in this profession
  • Broadening general skill set
  • Build awareness of business markets

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