Professional Development and the Profession

  • Anton HavnesEmail author
  • Jens-Christian Smeby
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Lifelong learning and ongoing professional development is part of being a professional. By completion of higher education a newly qualified teacher, engineer or nurse is certified for entering professional practice. Yet, they are not fully qualified for independent professional practice. Local practices in schools, industry and the health sector often require both contextualisation and recontextualisation of knowledge that was acquired in higher education. Another challenge is learning new skills, coming to terms with local work cultures and organisational structures, as well as customer, client or user relations. To what extent these requirements of learning and re-learning are recognised and valued, and how learning in the workplace is organised, varies across professions. Professional competence is grounded on theoretical knowledge which is general in nature, but in professional practice needs to be acted upon in professional contexts, under certain conditions and often in relation to unique individuals. The chapter explores what implications these aspects of professional expertise might have for the understanding of professional development and learning in the professions. Recognising the diversity of professions and the diversity of workplaces where professionals are employed we will focus on three diverse professions (teachers, nurses and engineers). What is the potential impact of the variation in the object or content of work (or the social context in which professionals work) and the valuing of and organisation of professional development?


Professions Professionalism Professional development Professional learning Workplace learning Nursing Teaching Engineering 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of ProfessionsAkershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway

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