Continuing professional development or CPD

Many people ask what is continuing professional development or CPD? In today’s world, we constantly learn as new standards and best practices are introduced, redefining how we do business. Whether in our professional or personal lives, the need for ongoing education has never been more critical than it is now. This blog introduces continuing professional development, its primary purpose, and how to keep a professional development plan.

Continuing professional development refers to improving, tracking and documenting skills, knowledge and experience to enhance your current work practice and future career.

In addition, it records experiences, learning and practical applications gained beyond initial training.

Continuing professional development is about you and your commitment to your ongoing learning and ethical practice. It encourages looking forward and identifying opportunities to learn something new, refresh your knowledge and skills, or keep up to date with the latest developments within your profession. In practice, it could mean everything from taking a new qualification to learning unique aspects of a job or a professional training course to refresh existing knowledge.

While job training is essential to professional development, this concept encompasses various topics and formats. It relates to specialised training, formal education, or advanced professional learning. This could include professional development courses, industry conferences, e-learning programmes, and training workshops. However, it can also occur in informal contexts such as discussions among work colleagues, independent reading and research, observations of a colleague’s work, or learning from a peer. Your learning activities will vary according to your role, sector, and experience.

Continuing professional development isn’t just a qualification but an ongoing process of continually improving an individual’s skills and competencies to enhance workplace performance and future career prospects. It works best when it’s relevant, collaborative, recognised and personal. Sometimes you’ll be doing CPD (Continuing Professional Development) without realising that you’re doing it; other times, you will have a structured approach to your development. If you were a practising teacher, a CPD course like the Trinity CertPT is an example of a structured approach to your development. The Trinity Certificate for Practising Teachers (CertPT) is a qualification that supports the professional development of English language teachers.

The Trinity CertPT enables practising teachers, including those with language proficiency below CEFR Level C1, to access specialist training and certification that can transform their teaching practice. The Trinity CertPT is for teachers seeking to update, improve and enrich their professional teaching practice. It draws upon qualified TESOL teachers’ existing teaching practice and theory knowledge while promoting acquiring and refining the specialist skills needed to develop and use adequate teaching resources.

What is the importance of continuing professional development?

No matter what industry we work in, we are expected to continue learning about our field and doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. The marketplace, the employees you’re tasked with leading, and the customers you’ll interact with are in constant change. As the worldwide business landscape evolves, so does the importance of CPD (Continuing professional development).

Engaging in professional development training ensures that academic and practical qualifications do not become outdated. CPD allows individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ regardless of occupation, age or educational level.

Well-designed and delivered professional development benefits the individual, their profession and the public. The process is usually ongoing since the ever-changing market dynamics constantly demand that employees keep their knowledge base adequately updated.

Those who require professional registration, such as registered nurses, doctors and teachers, will typically be required to undertake Continuing Professional Development.

An individual’s professional or regulatory body will provide the standards that must be met, including how many hours of learning must be undertaken.

How can professional development help your career?

The professional development framework has three complementary purposes:

  • To enable you to develop your knowledge, skills and experience for your present role and any potential future roles
  • To demonstrate to your employer that you have planned, updated and maintained your knowledge, skills and experience in a structured manner
  • to provide a means for your employer to demonstrate that you are professionally competent.

Different types of professional development

Professional development is not always formal and linear, and various activities and methodologies can contribute to your learning. This may include on-the-job development, formal training and qualifications, and informal and experiential learning. Beyond this, professional development can refer to any different types of relevant educational or training opportunities relevant to a professional’s work or career.

Remember, it is not about the quantity of the activities but the quality of the reflections linked to them. What you choose will ultimately depend on the areas you wish to develop. You should recognise needs and opportunities inside and outside your workplace and take advantage of developing your professional development programme.

The availability of a mixture of learning opportunities, including both formal and informal professional development activities, is imperative in today’s modern workplace and can be broadly defined into three types:

Structured – Active learning

Structured CPD adopts an interactive approach underpinned by participatory learning. The method’s integral activities are training courses, workshops, conferences, seminars, lectures, and e-learning courses. Structured professional development also covers career-orientated assessments and exams.

Reflective – Passive Learning

Reflective CPD is one-directional and passive, and no participant-based interaction is involved. However, some informal meetings fall into the Reflective CPD bracket, so long as their learning objectives are specified in an individual’s overall professional development plan. Examples include reading relevant news articles, case studies, and industry updates and listening to podcasts.

Self-Directed – Unstructured Learning

Self-directed learning constitutes all unsupervised professional development activities, including reading articles and publications online or in print. Unstructured learning material includes peer-reviewed books and studies, industry journals, trade magazines, and industry-specific news feeds. Remember: Professional development doesn’t just cover on-the-job training. It also includes any outside form of education or learning which can help improve a professional’s skills and knowledge.

Benefits of online professional development

Training opportunities can include online and blended learning (a mix of online and face-to-face). Online professional development courses provide a high-quality professional learning experience with the added benefit of completing your CPD without any time restraints.

Be aware that Online and eLearning can vary significantly, both in the depth and quality of the subject matter they cover and the learner’s interactivity levels. Online development courses can typically range from complete eLearning programs to hybrid ones delivered over several weeks or months. These CPD courses can help keep skills up to date and are suitable for ongoing Professional Development obligations.

A professional development certificate is usually obtained after completing any online training and is ideal for showcasing your newfound skills, knowledge and experience. Your Trinity CertPT certificate will bear your specialisation: CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning), Business English, CLT (Communicative Language Technique) or Teaching Online. It also includes the number of CPD hours and the school or organisation where you did your CPD.

Whether you’re looking to complete a full Personal and Professional Development training, there should be some form of online professional development to suit any individual requirements.

The most successful personal and professional development is done systematically and intentionally. To fully embrace the benefits of personal and professional development, you should set goals for yourself. What do you hope to get out of your development activities, and how will you reach those goals?

Is EBC a trusted provider for TCL CertTESOL and CertPT?

EBC is proud to be a Trinity College London (TCL) Trusted Provider with validation to deliver the TCL CertTESOL and CertPT qualifications. Here are links to the UK Government Ofqual Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for Trinity College London (TCL), the CertTESOL (level 5) and the CertPT (level 6).

Whether you want to continue learning or to put some transferable skills on your CV, Trinity College CertPT courses will cover your development requirements.

Trinity College London has been around since 1872 (150 years old!), and that’s a lot of years when we talk about reputation, credibility and trust.