By Haley Bickelhaupt
A new research study shows IFAJ members are highly interested in growing professionally through the organization.
The federation’s first research survey, developed by the six-person Task Force on Training, Education and Professional Development, reported 94 percent of survey participants indicated they would be (68 percent) or might be (26 percent) interested in participating in an IFAJ-led program in which their accomplishments would be formally recognized.
That recognition could be in the form of a completion certificate, carried out under the guidance of an accredited institution.
“Professional development goes to the heart of IFAJ’s mission, and this initiative is an opportunity to raise the bar on the organization’s commitment in this regard,” IFAJ President Lena Johansson said. “By providing member guilds with well-designed training materials, agricultural journalists and communicators will be able to advance their skills and receive recognition for doing so.”
The survey was available on the organization’s website from last October through to March. The global office helped distribute the survey. Task force chair Owen Roberts, former IFAJ president, presented the research results in June at the IFAJ Congress in Denmark.
Roberts explained the task force collected 147 survey responses, from 40 countries. African and European members comprised over half the research’s participants.
Top results indicate members’ priorities
The survey distinguished between training, professional development and education needs.
Out of 15 communications skills listed in the survey, social media, multimedia production processes and video training ranked as the top three areas where IFAJ members wanted training. Almost 35 percent said they would commit a full or partial week to training, while about one-quarter said a full or partial day was their preference.
Strategic and critical thinking was the most sought-after professional development topic, with interest from over 75 percent of those surveyed. The second most popular topic was leadership training, desired by almost 65 percent of the group. Knowledge mobilization was the third choice, at 60 percent. One third of the respondents said they would spend a full or partial week on professional development training topics. About 27 per cent said they favored a full or partial day.
Finally, almost 37 percent of respondents said they would dedicate one year to formal instruction from a recognized institution such as a university or college. About one-quarter of the respondents favored a one-two week commitment, while 23 per cent said they supported a one or two-month program.
Specific monetary figures weren’t discussed in the survey, but 43 percent said they could pay for training, education and professional development themselves. More than 31 percent said they could not. Many provided additional thoughts on how they would pursue support.
IFAJ will discuss these results and the way forward at its executive board meeting in February.
Haley Bickelhaupt is an agricultural communications student at the University of Illinois, USA.
The research was the conducted by the University of Illinois’ Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program, in conjunction with IFAJ global office and the Task Force on Training, Education and Professional Development.