There is an interesting question posted on the P-CMM blogspot, whether the principles used by the guilds to learn new skills would still work in today’s society? Up to the industrial revolution, guilds were common to preserve craftsmanship and quality. During the industrial revolution, craftsman were replaced by workers and machines. Agile emphasizes several principles that were common for guilds, like People of Processes and Responding to Change. Can we learn from the Guilds? Yes we can!
I’ve seen several cases where team members in agile teams help each other to develop new skills. These skills are lasting, so when people leave the team they can use those skills in future teams. E.g. testers can help other team members to develop their testing skills, by mentoring and pairing.
There is one major condition: The team must decide to free the mentoring team member from his/her “normal” duties, at least partly, to make sufficient time available to mentor. This must be a team decision, they must take the consequences of that decision together.
There are lots of ways to develop professionals and learn new skills, and some of them are there already in your own organization. So, why not use them?