What does CPD look like?

In most professions these days, people are expected to continue their continuous professional development to make sure their skills don’t become out of date. It’s a fair expectation that once you are professionally qualified to do a job, you need to keep up to date with the latest happenings or risk being made to look less reliable because someone else entering the workforce is more knowledgeable about your speciality than you.

So CPD becomes quite important.

How can L&D help CPD to happen is the question.

Well, this is where things start to get interesting. Is CPD a personal activity? Should it be governed by the business? Should L&D keep on top of the CPD activity individuals are required to go through? What happens if someone doesn’t engage in any CPD activity for the last 12 months? What if they haven’t done any since joining your company? Are you even aware of what CPD looks like for the different functions in your business? Are there formal qualifications that need to be maintained? Can reading count? Does a conference count? Does a team meeting count?

In an excellent post, David Goddin asks the question of the future of L&D. In that he talks about the consultative L&Der. Yes. This is how L&D will become seen to be a core business unit that is fundamental to the success of a business. By being consultative with the business we start to understand what CPD demands there are on the respective business units.

For most areas of the business where you don’t have to be concerned with legal or legislative updates, the CPD you engage in can come from a number of places. And the best part is, L&D doesn’t necessarily have to give the ‘nod’ (post at a later date about the infamous ‘sign off’). Most of what makes us better at our job is the interaction we have with content, and that content can come from anywhere. Importantly though, we have to seek out that content. It won’t just appear – well it will, but with a subscription demand and a price attached.

That blog post you read, it counts. That team meeting you went to about project updates, it counts. That community of practise you belong to, that counts. The internal communications that get cascaded around, they count. The formal L&D programmes you attend, they definitely count. That webinar you attended, it counts. As does that unconference you went to. Taking part in online discussions, they certainly count. Your regular meeting with you line manager, is essential and definitely counts. And don’t forget to include the company meeting.

CPD is surprisingly easy to come by when you just open your mind to the fact that in this day and age we are only limited by our definition of CPD activity. It is one of the things I enjoy most about helping others to think about their development, is where they can keep their learning and development going that doesn’t involve me.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

7 thoughts on “What does CPD look like?”

  1. They all count, but they count more if they have an impact on what you do back at the ranch. And they count even more than that if you can figure out what the impact was, what changed and why it happened. That’s why CPD should be owned by the individual, in fact has to be owned by the individual. It is up to them to understand the value of a piece of learning, to know if it has changed their practice, to understand if it has made a difference.

    So not all learning is created equal, or perhaps its better to say that all content is equal, but its impact isn’t. That impact isn’t to do with the content or the content provider, it is to do with the learner. A 2 hour lecture with the worlds leading authority on left toe nail surgery may have little in it to change the practice of the worlds leading right toe nail surgeon, but it may make a hell of a difference to the left foot rehab nurse. ( No I don’t think those jobs really exist, and yes it’s a rubbish example) At the end of the day only the learners will be able to judge.

    And that’s my point, CPD can be almost anything and we should be encouraging our collegues to use as wide a range of learning opportunities as possible, but L&D mustn’t try to define CPD, we should just help learners to understand which bits make a difference to what they do and to figure out as best they can why so they can make good choices in the future.

  2. Can events & workshops stop churning out CPD certificates now then?

    If you (the learner) need to be reminded of what you did then the learning didn’t stick and the CPD certificate is misleading. If the organisation or body needs to see evidence of learning, then CPD certificates just show attendance not learning.

    Makes you wonder what has been going in the minds of folk who’ve valued CPD certs…

    1. The whole certificates thing is really interesting with CPD. I guess they’re a necessity for ROI purposes, but they prove very little. So how do we get these learners to prove they’re engaging in CPD?

  3. You are so right. CPD is very important. Even more important is CPD built on solid “Self Awareness” foundation.

  4. The idea that it all counts is a great one. One of the things we do for all of that informal kind of learning is allow individual staff members to capture anything they think might count as professional development in their own personal section of our student management system, they can then print that out at anytime as well as a ‘transcript’ of all of the official training activities they have undertaken as evidence of CPD

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