So, what is CPD? CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. It enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive.
CPD combines different methodologies to learning, such as training workshops, conferences and events, e-learning programs, best practice techniques and ideas sharing, all focused for an individual to improve and have effective professional development. There are over 1000 institutes & professional bodies across the UK, a number that is forecast to increase.
Accompanied by such growth is the acceptance that academic qualifications must offer more vocational and skills-based or ‘practical’ learning. A structured, practical and methodical approach to learning helps employers across industries to keep key staff and develop the skills & knowledge in their organisations to maintain a sustainable and competitive advantage.
Engaging in Continuing Professional Development ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves, regardless of occupation, age or educational level.
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply. The term is generally used to mean a physical folder or portfolio documenting your development as a professional. Some organisations use it to mean a training or development plan, which I would argue is not strictly accurate. This article is about Continuing Professional Development as a process of recording and reflecting on learning and development.
What is it for?
The CPD process helps you manage your own development on an ongoing basis. Its function is to help you record, review and reflect on what you learn. It’s not a tick-box document recording the training you have completed. It’s broader than that.
Training or development – what’s the difference?
These terms are often used interchangeably, though there is a distinction. As a rule of thumb, training is formal and linear. It’s to do with learning how to do something specific, relating to skill and competence. Training can be as simple as using a PC application and as complex as learning how to be a pilot. Development is often informal and has a wider application, giving you the tools to do a range of things and relating to capability and competency. It involves progression from basic know-how to more advanced, mature or complex understanding. Alternatively, it can be about widening your range of transferable skills like leadership, managing projects or organising information.
The key features of the CPD process:
be a documented process
be self-directed: driven by you, not your employer
focus on learning from experience, reflective learning and review
help you set development goals and objectives
include both formal and informal learning.
What will it do for you?
CPD may be a requirement of membership of a professional body. It can help you to reflect, review and document your learning and to develop and update your professional knowledge and skills. It is also very useful to:
provide an overview of your professional development to date
remind you of your achievements and how far you’ve progressed
direct your career and help you keep your eye on your goals
uncover gaps in your skills and capabilities
open up further development needs
provide examples and scenarios for a CV or interview
demonstrate your professional standing to clients and employers
help you with your career development or a possible career change.