What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?


CPD Explained

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development and is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities.

CPD enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. CPD is the holistic commitment of professionals towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers.

CPD combines different methodologies to learning, such as training workshops, conferences and events, e-learning programs, best practice techniques and ideas sharing, all focused for an individual to improve and have effective professional development.

There are thousands of professional bodies & institutes across the UK, a number that is forecast to increase. Accompanied by such growth is the acceptance that academic qualifications must offer more vocational and skills-based learning.

A structured, practical and methodical approach to learning helps employers across industries to retain key staff and develop the skills & knowledge in their organisations to maintain a sustainable and competitive advantage.

Engaging in Continuing Professional Development ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ regardless of occupation, age or educational level.

CPD for Individuals

Continuing Professional Development enables individuals to adapt positively to changes in both work and industry requirements. Planning CPD helps an individual to be more efficient with their time, and recording CPD properly provides evidence of Continuing Professional Development, which can be useful for professional body obligations as well employer supervision and appraisals.

CPD shows a clear commitment to self-development and professionalism. CPD provides an opportunity for an individual to identify knowledge gaps and to resolve these in a recognisable approach to improvement.

Accredited CPD providers should make available to individuals a Certificate of Attendance to attach to their CPD log as evidence of development once a training course is complete or the desired standards of learning have been met.

CPD for Organisations

Providing CPD accredited training and events can benefit your organisation through recognition and an increased brand perception. Internal use of Continuing Professional Development encourages and promotes a healthy learning culture for organisations, that can lead to a more fulfilled workforce and retaining valuable staff.

Many organisations have staff with CPD obligations as members of professional bodies. In circumstances where internal CPD training resources are low, organisations use outsourced CPD training providers to meet staff requirements.

Outsourced CPD providers are typically training companies, online learning resources, events & conference organisers. They are experts in their field and provide practical learning opportunities through CPD events, seminars and accredited CPD courses. Some CPD courses are just 1 or 2 hours long, delivered in a seminar or workshop environment. Other accredited CPD courses can be a full 6-10 weeks program, split into structured bite-size modules.


What is accredited CPD training?

Accredited CPD training means the learning activity has reached the required Continuing Professional Development standards and benchmarks. The learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality. The CPD Certification Service provides recognised independent CPD accreditation compatible with global CPD requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CPD point, unit or credit?

A frequent question about Continuing Professional Development is how CPD is recorded, and specifically the question, “What is a CPD point, unit or credit?” It is often found across all industries that CPD points, units and credits all relate to the same thing, CPD Hours? What are CPD Hours? The definition of a CPD Hour is the time spent for a delegate to be in “active learning”. 

How is CPD recorded?

An individual must keep a track of their annual Continuing Professional Development activities on a CPD record form and must ensure it is correct, up to date and meets the requirements of their professional body or association. The CPD activity is recorded in terms of learning outcomes and practical application of the knowledge obtained. Continuing Professional Development undertaken is recorded by a CPD Certificate of Attendance, CPD Self-Assessment forms and personal CPD Record Cards.

How should I allocate my CPD time?

Most institutes provide their members with Continuing Professional Development requirements generally as a minimum annual number of hours. These targets are defined by the accrual of CPD hours through training, seminars & workshops, events & conferences as well as other structured forms of CPD learning. These CPD hours are sometimes converted to points, units or credits.

What is the process of gaining CPD certification?

The CPD Assessments team will evaluate the materials, review the structure and provide advice to help develop the training courses where required. This process is to ensure the training courses are educational in content, structured coherently, with clear learning objectives and outcomes.  

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