CPD - What is Lifelong Learning and how can it benefit you?

CPD - What is Lifelong Learning and how can it benefit you?

07 Jun 2023

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The concept of lifelong learning has become increasingly recognised and valued in recent years. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is based on the principle of a commitment to ongoing learning. The following article explains the relationship of lifelong learning with CPD and the many benefits it offers personally and professionally.

What is Lifelong Learning?

In short, lifelong learning is the recognition that learning continues beyond formal education or professional qualifications. It is about an individual continuing to develop skills and knowledge throughout their life and career. Lifelong learning can relate to both the personal and professional, and can involve a variety of different learning methods.

Actively engaging in CPD is an expression and fundamental aspect of lifelong learning, as it encourages looking forward and identifying opportunities to learn something new, refresh existing knowledge, improve skills, or simply keep up-to-date with the latest developments within a particular profession or industry. It allows for individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves regardless of their occupation, age or educational level.

Why is Lifelong Learning important?

There is an increasing awareness and understanding from individuals and organisations that formal education and qualifications are not alone sufficient to ultimately achieve fulfilment and success in the modern world. Therefore, a commitment to lifelong learning and CPD is essential to fully facilitate continuing growth and development.

In the personal sphere, lifelong learning could be as simple as developing the skills and knowledge to pursue a hobby. Alternatively, it could be learning a new language in order to travel or reading and learning more on a subject of interest. In any example, an engagement with lifelong learning allows individuals to gain more fulfilment and meaning from their personal life.

From a professional perspective, qualifications and formal education are key foundations but not enough to remain most effective professionally. With rapid changes in technology and the workplace, it is crucial that individuals find opportunities to continue to develop skills and knowledge that allow them to maintain productivity in the work environment.

Employers now understand the importance of continuing to develop the capabilities of their workforce. It is also a critical part of the recruitment process – employers will look for transferable skills and wider experience beyond basic qualifications when selecting potential employees. Pursuing lifelong learning opportunities through regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is essential to remain competitive in the market and to develop the skills necessary to enhance career progression.

What are the benefits of learning for life

Lifelong learning and CPD has numerous and far reaching benefits for both individuals and organisations. The following explains some of the key benefits of ongoing learning:

Benefits for individuals – Participating in lifelong learning and CPD fundamentally benefits individuals by allowing them to gain more fulfilment from their personal and professional lives. It can increase self-confidence through building a greater understanding of society and the world around, but also through the sense of achievement in successfully learning something new. It also improves motivation by providing a focus and framework for pursuing wider personal and professional goals.

Lifelong learning and associated CPD is crucial professionally. Continuing to develop new and relevant skills ensures individuals remain productive and successful in the workplace. It is also the means by which individuals facilitate developing their career. Building wider skills and knowledge improves employability whilst enhancing possibilities for higher renumeration and promotion. CPD offers greater flexibility to an individual. Rather than the rigid and sometimes limited framework of formal education, learning for life continually presents opportunities to improve and develop through methods that can be both formal and informal.

Advantages of lifelong learning

Benefits for organisations – Organisations benefit from establishing a culture that is open to lifelong learning and Continuing Professional Development. This ensures a workforce is always developing necessary skills to remain relevant in the face of change, but also encourages the desire to learn, which leads to overall growth and improvement.

A focus on continued learning within an organisation can also improve employee retention and aid recruitment. Employees will feel supported and more contented if there is a commitment to supporting their development, but this culture will also prove attractive to potential employees, leading to higher calibre recruitment. This subsequently avoids the punitive costs to an organisation of high staff turnover, by nurturing and maintaining a satisfied and skilled workforce.

An organisation that develops skills and promotes learning will ultimately increase profitability through the result of retained staff, constantly seeking improvement - ensuring an organisation maintains a competitive edge and stays ahead in the market. The commitment to lifelong learning and CPD can often be especially beneficial to smaller organisations who do not have the resources to invest in large, bespoke training programs. There is more on the benefits of CPD for small businesses in our previous article here.

Examples of Lifelong Learning activities and CPD

As established, lifelong learning spans both the personal and professional, so potential examples are vast and will be unique and specific to the individual. Learning to cook, play an instrument or make home improvements are all examples of engaging with personal lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning professionally will range from focusing on a skill gap in order to improve work performance, to actively acquiring new skills to develop a career or potentially make a whole career change. The specific learning will be relevant to the individual and align with wider professional development goals. CPD recognises the value in both formal and informal learning - depending on the circumstance and individual, there may be as much value in listening to a relevant podcast as attending a formalised training course.

CPD supports lifelong learning by enabling it to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. It combines different methodologies to learning, which includes training courses, seminars, workshops, conferences and events, webinars and eLearning programs, as well as sharing best practice techniques, thoughts and ideas, all focused towards an individual methodically improving within the work environment.

Types of Lifelong learning activities

Understanding the CPD Cycle

A key requirement in all ongoing learning is to ensure that it is aligning with wider goals and it is enhancing individual development. A useful tool for achieving this is to follow The CPD Cycle. The CPD cycle is a practical tool which follows a systematic and logical approach and helps an individual make regular and measurable improvements to their Continuing Professional Development.

The CPD Cycle follows five key stages and steps, summarised as follows:

Stage 1 Identifying Your Needs – Identify skills and knowledge gaps. Establish areas that can develop and improve professional skills and knowledge.

Stage 2 Planning - Create a set of specific objectives. Decide which activities and subjects would support overall development objectives.

Stage 3 Acting/Doing - Attend and engage with learning activities, such as suitable CPD accredited training. Focus on participating in learning that will cater for knowledge gaps previously identified.

Stage 4 Reflect on learning - Reflect upon the success of the activity. The reflection stage should include highlighting: “What did I learn? How has my knowledge increased? What skills have I learnt? What can I put into practice?”

Stage 5 Implement new learning - Apply new knowledge and skills to an existing workplace, completing the full process of the CPD Cycle.

There is further explanation of The CPD Cycle in our previous article here.

Where to find CPD courses for Lifelong Learning?

If you are interested in finding courses which will support ongoing lifelong learning, relating to any subject or field of interest, please visit the CPD Courses Catalogue where you will find thousands of training courses and events across industry sectors. All the certified training has been reviewed and recognised as meeting the required industry standards and benchmarks.

CPD accreditation for your professional development courses

We hope this article was helpful. Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. We work with employers from all industries, ranging from consultancy firms to training providers, large and small businesses, conference & event organisers, universities, further education colleges, local authority and Government departments.

If you are looking to provide training courses, workshops, seminars, online & eLearning events, conferences or webinars that may be suitable for Continuing Professional Development, please contact our team to discuss in more detail. Alternatively, if you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help support The CPD Cycle, and manage, track and log your ongoing learning, as well as store your professional training records and attendance certificates in one simple place, go to the myCPD Portal page.

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For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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