THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD) IS DEFINED AS ‘THE PURPOSEFUL MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENT OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND COMPETENCE TO CARRY OUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE THROUGHOUT YOUR WORKING LIFE’.

DR RICHARD EVANS LOOKS INTO THE CONCEPT OF CPD AND HOW IT CAN BENEFIT BOTH EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE WHEN IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY.

In summary CPD is ‘any activity which enhances an individual’s professional practice and encompasses formal, informal, course based, work based, individual and collaborative learning.

Formal off-job training is only a part of CPD. Most learning actually takes place not through attending training courses, but through the work people carry out and the range of experiences they garner through the years. Reflecting on and evaluating the effectiveness of the learning is a key factor in CPD.

Gaining qualifications is not enough – individuals need to keep up-to-date with new developments in the changing world of education, training as well as in their specialist subject.

  • ‘Competence’ – the ability to perform a particular activity to a prescribed level.
  • ‘Skill’ – facility gained by practice or knowledge.

BACKGROUND ISSUES.

During these very uncertain times resulting from the ongoing global financial crisis, many countries have to carry out fundamental reviews of their economies in order to reduce their debts and reconfigure and strengthen these same economies. This, coupled with all the consequences of the rapid transitions and transformations occurring because of globalism, such as outsourcing, such reviews are assuming top priority. Depending on their particular circumstances individual countries need to adopt different strategies.

After completing the necessary reviews and reforms, one of the most important elements that must be addressed is the human resource involved in revenue creation, i.e. the workers. Employers must recognise the importance of employee development and should make a sustained and adequate investment by providing comprehensive programmes matched to the investment, research and development plans of the overall business or service so as to improve their skills at all levels. This includes the specialist, general and transferable ones. Whatever strategies that are inevitably implemented for business or service planning and development, one essential feature must be a total commitment to Continuous Professional Development. Too often lip service is paid by employers and politicians to CPD. If one is committed to improving efficiency, competiveness and economic health, then employers supported by their government must work together to further embed CPD into the culture of employment and businesses.

Employees must be supported in a number of ways whether financially, with time off to study or an understanding of the consequences for the employee involved in CPD programmes.However what both parties, employers and employees, I must appreciate is that such investment in the employee is aimed atimproving the business performance of the company or service involved. CPD is a two-way street insofar as it serves to benefit both the individual and the employer but it has to be aimed at business and service improvement. Policies must be consistent across business activity particularly in the public services. There are instances where different government departments and ministries operate different policies especially in the financial support they provide for their employees. In this regard the example set by the government is pivotal.

One important element of an individuals CPD programmes is the maintenance of a professional portfolio. The portfolio supports the CPD activities in a number of crucial ways as it:

  • Serves as a personal record of development;
  • Supports self-evaluation of professional competence;
  • Assists in personal development planning;
  • Presents illustrations of skills and abilities;
  • Provides invaluable support and evidence for professional reviews i.e. staff appraisals;
  • Provides a basis for discussion with key colleagues;
  • Assists in recording activities which may lead to accreditation at an institutional or individual level.

A commitment to CPD not only enhances an individual’s ability to perform more effectively and efficiently, but it also adds value to the company and ultimately to the country’s competiveness and economic health.

Dr Richard Evans is a member of the City & Guilds Council.

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