What is CPD?
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is any activity engaged in by a qualified professional through which they continue to develop professionally. CPD is about learning and development that enhances the participant's effectiveness in their professional role. This should maintain and enhance existing competences as well as developing new knowledge and skills. It need not be exclusively about formal courses or qualifications and may involve development in both technical and non-technical areas. CPD includes a wide variety of activities such as attending courses or conferences, open learning, private study, work experience or involvement in industry discussion groups.
Professional Institutions usually encourage and recommend their members to engage in CPD, often requiring them to keep a record of their CPD activities. Some set specific requirements for CPD and even specify particular activities or areas of learning in which CPD is required; others leave this to the judgment of the individual. A committed professional should see CPD as primarily about maintaining and building knowledge and competence for their own personal career development rather than just a chore to satisfy external requirements.
Who is CPD for?
Professional bodies encourage CPD because they want to help their members to perform as well as possible and the standing of the institution is enhanced by the knowledge that its members are committed to building and developing their professional competence. Businesses of all sizes need knowledgeable, competent people. Without engaging in appropriate CPD the workforce cannot hope to maintain competence let alone develop the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to changing business and client needs and make use of the latest technology and materials whilst conforming to ever changing legal and regulatory requirements.
Businesses want to employ professionals who not only have up-to-date technical knowledge, but who also have the skills to complete a project on time and within budget, the communication skills to understand customer needs, and a range of other competences needed to be successful in their career. Again these are competences that CPD will help professionals to develop and maintain.
For individuals, the maintenance and development of knowledge and competence helps ensure employability, and forms part of an active career development strategy.
What are the considerations for Professional Institutions in general?
Professional Institutions seek to serve the needs not only of their members, but also of their industry in many of their activities. They provide services for members that include the attainment of certain academic competencies. For many Institutions, it is therefore a logical extension of their activities for them to recommend or require that their members engage in CPD and it is common practice to:
- set minimum time to spend on CPD
- recommend CPD programmes (often to gain CPD 'points');
- ask members to produce a plan for their CPD
- Request documented CPD or evidence of competence gained through engagement in CPD
What are the benefits of CPD to employers?
Many employers are aware of skills gaps amongst their staff, and 'on the job' is often the most popular mode of delivering training. However, a more proactive approach may help to ensure their staff develop and maintain the skills needed by the business and ultimately enhance its effectiveness and profitability.
Employers who want to ensure their staff engage in CPD which benefits their business may be willing to help their staff to plan CPD with a focus on outputs which:
- give staff the competence to expand or change their roles;
- give staff the skills to work with new technologies or within new markets; and
- address any shortcomings amongst staff.
Staff engagement in CPD may be beneficial to employers and their business by helping to:
- ensure employees and therefore the business are up-to-date and competitive
- minimize the risk of professional errors and potential litigation
- provide evidence of professional competence of staff
- make the workforce more flexible which may reduce recruitment needs
- Make the workforce and business processes more efficient
- make the workforce and business more responsive to change including new technologies, legislation and market developments;
- improve their business' profitability and reputation as an employer of a skilled workforce
- To motivate staff and improve staff retention.
Employers, in return, can provide support for their employees by:
- developing company procedures which support CPD
- providing development opportunities
- assisting with resources and expertise
- giving positive encouragement and recognition
- helping staff assess their competence and development need
- Supporting CPD activities through time and resources
- Linking their internal performance management systems to professional CPD programmes
Planning should maximise the focus and benefit of CPD and limit time (and other resources) used on less appropriate CPD activities. It is important not only to make short term development plans, but also to consider medium and long term goals and what CPD can do to help achieve them. Ideally plans should be realistic yet aspirational, reviewed regularly and when circumstances change, and allow the flexibility for unexpected opportunities or needs to be embraced.
In developing a CPD plan as an individual it is recommended that the following core items should be included:
- Identification of areas in which competence is needed;
- Development goals;
- planned activities to achieve goals;
- Details of resources needed/available to support development; and
Recording CPD is useful for a number of reasons other than for meeting the requirements of others.
It can play a key part in the planning and reviewing of CPD activities, as well as providing a useful source when updating a Curriculum Vitae or making a case for promotion. Assessing and reviewing CPD reflecting upon what has been learnt through a CPD activity is an important part of the development process and a good opportunity for individuals to honestly consider what new knowledge and skills they have developed and how to use and maintain their new competence.
Alongside considering how a developmental activity contributes towards personal competence, individuals may consider whether any of what they have learnt should be shared with colleagues and if so how. The assessment and review process is also important for individuals to consider whether they are taking the right approach to CPD, if they are using development methods which suit them and whether they need to engage in further development in a particular area of knowledge and/or skill. Conclusions reached through the assessment and review process should inform the planning session of the CPD cycle and may result in revisions to plans. Assessing and reviewing CPD is a sensible conclusion to any development activity, and also essential to inform effective planning of future CPD.
IBD CPD Procedures
The IBD runs two CPD schemes in parallel; both have the same objectives for the individual and their business / employer.