The world is constantly changing and universities and their employees must, too. At Maastricht University (UM), the responsibility to encourage and facilitate all its employees to continually develop personally and professionally is high on the list of strategic priorities. In a large organisation like a university, there are employees at every stage of their career with varying needs when it comes to learning and development. Working together with employees to develop programmes and services aimed at lifelong learning is the approach at UM. This means engaging first in a dialogue with staff to find out what they need and want; then working with experts and advisers to create an offering to meet not only the organisation’s goals, but the employees’ as well. This has led to UM’s policy of both continually updating an array of tried-and-true services and creating new programmes dedicated to facilitating staff in their lifelong learning.
For decades, Maastricht University’s Staff Career Centre has supported all employees in the areas of learning, development, mobility and participation. Specialised advisers work with staff to develop personalised development plans aimed at sustainable employability. These can include coaching and mentoring sessions, as well as any of the many seminars and workshops the centre organises. The Staff Career Centre supports young researchers, those with an occupational disability, newly appointed and experienced managers and everyone in between.
While the Staff Career Centre offers a wide range of services to employees, the recently created UM Leadership Academy is dedicated to supporting UM staff specifically in the area of leadership development. The Leadership Academy collaborates with employees to provide opportunities to develop different types of leadership skills. This includes not only staff leading large units of the university, such as a faculty or institute; but also with operational team leaders and new managers. The Leadership Academy is currently involved in projects not only aimed at developing managerial leadership, but also personal and interpersonal leadership. The university realises that supporting its employees in their leadership development will help them grow as professionals, make it easier for them to do their jobs well and in turn supports the UM in reaching its goals.
As a significant public institution in the Dutch province of Limburg, UM is also active in helping regional businesses and organisations offer lifelong learning opportunities to their employees. Maastricht University is currently involved in creating a regional lifelong learning hub together with neighbouring secondary vocational education institutes, universities of applied sciences and other research universities in the southern part of the Netherlands. The focus of the programmes is on sectors where lifelong learning is most needed. This includes those that are undergoing significant energy and digitalisation transitions.
An example of Maastricht University’s lifelong learning policy put into action was the Lifelong Development Day held on 9 September 2022. Organised by the university’s executive management education unit, it was open to UM employees as well as external participants. Additionally, it took place together with the annual UM Alumni Day. Participants could join interactive sessions addressing current themes such as career development, lifelong development, sustainability and entrepreneurship.