Continuing Professional Development – Burden or Benefit?

Business 7th November 2023

When people think of Continual Professional Development (CPD) they often see it is a burden or annual chore to be completed. However, there are undoubted benefits to CPD that are hard to ignore. For some businesses CPD is a requirement, and for others a choice, but in either case it can be very useful to employers.

What is CPD?

In general terms, CPD is an activity that develops the individual in relation to their profession or trade. What those activities are, can vary. Development comes in many forms. Training is probably the most obvious activity and  probably the most common one. However, it is a mistake to only think in terms of formal training. CPD is about development and that may not always be about sitting in a classroom. As long as the activity is clearly and measurably developing the professional in some way related to their job, it could potentially be considered as CPD.

The problem is how the individual proves they have undertaken CPD and how much each activity is worth. The validity of what can be claimed as CPD has been a bone of contention in the past and, in the worst cases, can result in professional paying lip service to it rather than acting in the spirit of the process.

What constitutes good continuing professional development?

In some professions, such as legal and financial areas, continual development is a demand of the governing body. In those cases, the need is pretty cut and dried, but again what constitutes CPD, and how much it is worth in terms of the annual requirement, varies. One of the easiest ways to deal with these variables is to stick to activities that have been allocated points by a CPD accreditation service. That is not to say that other activities are automatically less valuable, but just as with a formal qualification the CPD approval means the activity has been checked and approved against set criteria. The CPD Group have a good example of what they consider appropriate training content for CPD on their website here. The framework they have in place to check the quality of training in relation to development means all training bearing their CPD mark and number has been reviewed and approved as being worth the points.

Other activities you may see besides training are slightly more difficult to assess for CPD but should still meet an appropriate standard. They could include:

  • Employer on-site training – you will need to be approved as a provider first, but that could be well worth it to provide very specific training.
  • Webinars and podcasts – If they have CPD points attached, they will have been checked and approved.
  • Edutorials and updates – Reading associated materials as research has always been an appropriate CPD activity (particularly in areas such as HE education).
  • Mentoring and Coaching – This is an often under valued development process but with a CPD approved mentor it could be allocated a clear value as a development process.
  • Employers can be recognised as a CPD employer (more of this in the final paragraphs) which could enhance your employer brand a unique offering.
  • Events, seminars, trade gatherings – Clearly attending a conference should be recognised as a developmental process. These can also be CPD approved so attendees can show, again via a QR scan, that they visited.

How does CPD benefit the employer?

This is a complicated area. So, for now, here are a few pros and cons of committing to the CPD process to think about.

Firstly, let’s look at the potential concerns. As with any development process there is going to be a commitment required from the employer and it will probably mean internal training/learning curves and time allocated to embed CPD in your processes. There will still be some cost for a training programme (training is likely to form at least part of your CPD activities) although this may be lower than previous costs. While CPD is more flexible than traditional training only based development, it still needs monitoring to prevent misreporting and similar abuses. In the end the selection of activities you allow will be vital to making it work.

So, are there any benefits to make it worth considering? Well, yes, with the usual caveat that you need to consider your individual requirements, it can be very worthwhile. Firstly, if you have employees who are in professions that require CPD, you will be able to more effectively monitor how it is being applied. From an employer brand perspective, it demonstrates commitment to your team to prospective employees, showing you care about focused development. Long term you can potentially harvest the in-house talent in your team to deliver training and mentoring. That could reduce costs and increase the specific nature of your development activities. It also seems that more and more governing bodies in a range of industries are looking to CPD to demonstrate professional standards and, while there may be no specific requirement for CPD for your team, being a CPD approved employer could well be a mark of quality for your customers.

You will need to work with one of the approving bodies, so look for one that matches your standards in the way they operate. As we mentioned earlier, one of the criticisms that has been levelled at CPD in comparison to formal training is that it lacks rigour. So, ideally you will want your CPD to be a robust process that is thoroughly checked and agreed to avoid any question of box ticking approval. Your CPD approval body should be able to demonstrate the same rigour, commitment to quality, and high standards, that you would expect of your own team. If you are buying training or other development activities for employees, again, be sure you trust the quality of the CPD approval.

Call us on 01604 763494 or drop us an email if you want to investigate what it would mean to add CPD approval in your HR processes.

It’s our pleasure to keep our clients happy

  • Zinc
  • Growth Deck
  • Billing Finance
  • Shoosmiths
  • PBC
  • hdn
  • Millers Consultancy
  • Pyke Smith Cutler
  • LMH
  • Baker Taylor