In this article  we explain the necessity and importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). 

It is clear that for most professionals in the education, construction, SME and professional services sectors to have a high chance of reaching ambitious career goals: CPD is crucial. It is a need and it’s not optional.

This specific question was addressed in a recent post.

Why should you care about doing your professional development to a high standard?

Because every hour spent doing CPD pays you back several times over. Whether through increased recognition, professional prestige, personal authority and usually increased remuneration: the benefits of quality CPD are numerous. Taking an active approach to professional CPD is certainly worth it. More comprehensively recorded CPD is proven to assist in accelerated career progression.

Across the UK workforce, CPD is expected of most individual professionals in the majority of sectors. CPD is generally governed by sector-specific professional bodies and regulators. Employers also  expect their staff to undertake CPD, and may even measure them on it. This is particularly important in the coming years as technological advancements get increasingly advanced alongside human capabilities regarding work becoming less and less dominant.

Anyone who is a member of a professional body is likely to have their CPD professional requirements laid out for them by the body, rather than by their employer. There are currently over 1,425  professional bodies, institutes and membership associations nationally in the UK. They represent all industries and professions, and all have CPD policies to identify and communicate the requirements.

Anyone who works within a sector that is formally regulated (e.g. by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Financial Conduct Authority), is usually required to track and progress their CPD in order to maintain their licenses to practice. Regulatory bodies exist to ensure that the public receives services of the required standard, so CPD is taken very seriously i.e just as it is expected that legal professionals have a very high level of education and qualification to practice their important role in society.

Employers will support their staff with CPD in many cases and may assist in contributing to CPD plans. However, it is very much up to the individual to source their own CPD training activities that meet their personal learning needs and objectives.

For both training and learning providers, this offers an excellent opportunity to help individuals throughout an organisation as well as external professionals, enhance their careers. By having a formal CPD accreditation, your training activities will look several times better than without accreditation(s).

So if I go on lots of courses I should be fine?

No and yes and yes and no. CPD is not solely about going on courses , it is crucial that it is used for updating your professional knowledge and improving your personal competence. For instance, reflection is possibly the most important stage of the CPD cycle, yet often the most overlooked. If you go on a course about something that you already know how to do, you are not improving, you may even be stagnating. You should aim to attend events and commit to activities that are out of your comfort zone. This way you are learning and not trying to do the impossible or falling into the trap of  trying to do everything all at once. Your CPD will work best when it is carefully planned: decide what direction you want your career to follow and then take the relevant options (courses, seminars, reading, related activities) that will get you to your desired destination over a reasonable time trajectory based on your needs, goals in addition to your levels of optimism and ambition.

You should do CPD to keep up and even to overtake

You’re unlikely to be the only person in the world doing the job that you do. Others in your industry will be doing continuing professional development. You must, at the bare minimum, keep up with them. As more people become more advanced in their field, in part to keep up with the start of a new technological revolution, industry working standards start to rise when giving promotions, pay rises and with the creation of jobs. If you don’t have the sufficient training that a newcomer is extremely likely to have in their arsenal of skills, then your professional days will be quickly over.

It is personal as well as professional

CPD is not purely for the benefit of the company you work for or your own career for that matter it is as much about personal development as it is professional. Certain CPD courses will increase your confidence and overall well being. Provided that you absorb, reflect and take action on what you learn. It can make you feel valued and can even inspire you to work harder in your organisation even if at some point you may have considered leaving. You might find that you press onwards towards your targets,  you may never have had the knowledge or empowerment to achieve beforehand.

Because it is quite personal, it’s always worth investing your own time and money into CPD.

It gives YOU value

Knowledge is power. Applied knowledge is a professional pedigree. The more detailed and specialised your skills and wider knowledge regarding your role is, the business you work for and the practises it does will make you more valuable as an employee and team member. If your company is thinking of reducing their workforce and it is between you and someone else who knows more than you about their role, then your CPD could give you an edge on the competition. 

Not only does CPD increase your value within the organisation within your team too. If you are knowledgeable and helpful when discussing work with coworkers you will gain more respect from those same co-workers.

It never ends

Continuing professional development is constantly continuing! CPD is always changing. It is the same whether you are a young professional, entry-level employee or senior manager. You should always have an eye on the bigger picture in your industry. Is it starting to do most of its business online? Have a lot of things taken a digital turn to keep up with the times? Is your company looking to expand in another country or sector? Is there a possibility that you’ll need to learn a second language? It is essential to look into skills that you may be required to have in the future to help proof your role at this time of rapid change.

Many don’t like training because it either takes them out of their comfort zone or takes them away from their desks. It is always a good idea to undergo training just to shake up your routine. Bad routines can be like prisons, restricting your ability to grow. You never know, if you keep your ears pricked you may learn something you never thought would be beneficial!

With the right knowledge as well as understanding, you can become a really good leader for your other colleagues and you will be able to contribute substantially to your field as a whole. In turn over time ringfencing yourself as a star professional in your organisation, increasing your job security by proving a great return on investment for the employer. If you are new to CPD do not delay getting started, otherwise hopefully you were reminded why CPD is required for a successful career with desirable progression.


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