International CPD – a recognised approach to learning

International CPD – a recognised approach to learning

24 Jan 2024

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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is becoming widely established as the internationally recognised terminology for professional further learning. Many international regions have implemented CPD policies and guidelines as a way of standardising learning practices in key industries and maintaining relevance in a rapidly changing environment. This article provides a simple introduction and overview to international CPD, its growth and importance.

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development and describes the learning activities professionals engage in to enhance their abilities and knowledge. CPD is a proactive and holistic approach towards the improvement of skills and proficiency throughout a professional’s career. Continuing Professional Development defines a commitment to ongoing lifelong learning and encourages individuals to identify opportunities to learn something new, refresh existing knowledge, improve skills, or simply keep up-to-date with the latest developments in a particular industry. Organisations across all industry sectors can look to actively engage in CPD to grow, develop and stay competitive within their market.

Background and History of CPD - Where did it start?

The concept of Continuing Professional Development originated in the UK and its roots can be broadly traced back to the decades following World War II. At that time, institutional bodies identified a need for more structured further learning post formal qualifications. By the 1980s, Continuing Professional Development became established within leading UK professional bodies. Industry sectors such as healthcare and medical, construction, architecture, engineering, and law took the decisions to implement organisational CPD policies that helped to establish the foundations and frameworks of a proactive learning culture within each profession. Different terminology was sometimes used – such as the Healthcare sector where Continuing Medical Education (CME) was initially common until recent years, when there was a progression towards recognising CME as a component element of overall CPD.

A similar focus on the need for further learning was developing in parallel in regions like North America, Australia and Europe – albeit sometimes using different terminology. By the 2000s, a recognition of the need for professional development had moved beyond traditional professions to all industry sectors, and there was a convergence around CPD as the international terminology.

International CPD and globalisation

Since then, in response to globalisation and the changing technological landscape, Continuing Professional Development has increased in relevance and importance across industries internationally. Both individuals and organisations value CPD as a means of ensuring growth and development – and staying up-to-date in an ever-changing international market.

What are the different types of Continuing Professional Development?

Different types of Continuing Professional Development can include training courses, workshops, seminars, webinars, conferences and events, as well as sharing best practice techniques, thoughts and ideas. These types of CPD are generally categorised into three areas (Structured CPD / Reflective CPD / Self-directed CPD), depending upon the overall format and structure of the learning activity. Often, individuals and organisations will pursue a blended approach to Continuing Professional Development that incorporates a range of different types of CPD. Please find more information on our CPD Explained page.

Growth of international CPD

The CPD Certification Service is an important driving force in the promotion of Continuing Professional Development across the world, with CPD members in over 100 countries and growing. CPD accreditation allows international organisations and training providers the opportunity to create additional value, as well as share knowledge and skills within their industry. CPD accreditation enables many international organisations and training providers to adopt recognised standards of learning – in areas such as healthcare, law, education and finance.

Why is CPD important across the world?

CPD is able to provide a simple and effective system of measurable performance and transparency within the learning environment. The ‘professionalisation’ of industries in response to legislation, consumer needs and general socioeconomic trends highlights an ongoing need for visibility and accountability across sectors. The advancement of industries as a whole and their respective technologies requires professionals to adapt, improve and change more frequently than perhaps was required decades before.

CPD participation becomes an important tool to stay up-to-date with technology and regulations, increase professional value and improve work performance and prospects. Engaging with CPD creates a culture of learning, which can aid employee retention and also potentially making organisations more attractive to employees and other stakeholders.

Recording your CPD

A CPD record can be used to evidence professional development, and helps as a monitoring tool for individuals to manage the learning element of their career. myCPD Portal is an online CPD record tool to help manage, track and record individual Continuing Professional Development. If you are looking for somewhere to keep a Continuing Professional Development training record in one simple place, please go to the myCPD Portal page.

Globalisation and the changing technological landscape

CPD in Europe

Many European countries have implemented Continuing Professional Development through various policies and guidelines including Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Lithuania. Some examples of CPD in Europe includes the legal sector in France, where lawyers registered with the Bar participate in an annual 20 hours CPD requirement. In Italy, the main medical professions aim to achieve 150 CPD hours over a 3-year period, with a minimum of 25 hours per year. Whilst in Germany, the German Medical Association developed CPD guidelines in the 2000’s with the seventeen regional Medical Chambers of Physicians ultimately deciding the specific CPD requirements.

CPD in North America

Continuing Professional Development has been widely adopted in North America following a similar course as the UK, although historically applying different terminology such as Continuing Professional Education (CPE), Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Continuing Medical Education (CME). Both Canada and the USA have established CPD policies and requirements within various professional bodies. Examples in Canada are The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), both adopting CPD requirements in the early 2000s. Another example are Lawyers that are required to complete CPD hours each year to maintain their license to practice law – the exact requirements vary by jurisdiction and typically range from 12 to 30 hours per year.

CPD in the Pacific region

The development of CPD in the regions such as Australia and New Zealand has followed similar path to the UK, influenced by a possible shared history and institutional similarities. An example in Australia would be the healthcare industry, where the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) requires GPs to participate in 25 hours of CPD every year.

CPD in the Middle East

Continuing Professional Development is a relatively new concept to the Middle East but has seen rapid growth in recent years. Countries leading the way with CPD in the Middle East and have introduced or are implementing standardised CPD practices include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In Dubai for instance, CPD has been established in the education industry where the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) have integrated Continuing Professional Development into their requirements for teachers in private schools. In Qatar, The Department of Healthcare Professions (DHP) regulates activities of CPD in the State playing an integral part in the license renewal process of healthcare practitioners.

CPD in Africa

Africa is a region that has seen recent growth in CPD participation. Some of the key countries that encourage Continuing Professional Development include South Africa, Nigeria and Mauritius. South Africa in particular has implemented CPD at an institutional level, with an example being the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) requiring accountants to participate in a minimum of 120 CPD hours during a 3-year rolling cycle in order to practice.

CPD in East Asia

Parts of Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea have adopted CPD as a way for professionals to maintain their abilities and enhance their workplace capabilities. For example, teachers in Hong Kong must engage in CPD activities to achieve roughly 150 CPD hours in each three-year cycle. Schools are also required to organise three days of school-wide professional development annually.

Other Regions

There are many more regions where Continuing Professional Development has become established and continues to grow. The list is by no means exhaustive but includes India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean.

CPD accreditation for international training providers

CPD accreditation helps organisations to formalise their expertise into a structured and recognised approach to learning. This can then be applied to the individual needs of professionals CPD requirements. The process of gaining CPD accreditation through The CPD Certification Service enhances the standard and quality of learning materials through access to an experienced CPD accreditation team, providing expert advice and a framework to help continuously improve the educational offering. Please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

About the CPD Certification Service

The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Our unique 27 years' experience and history provides assurance that courses, events and training will be assessed to ensure individuals are getting the most out of learning. The CPD Certification Service has members in more than 100 countries.

How to become an international CPD training provider

The CPD Certification Service provide accreditation for international organisations ranging from small consultancy firms to large training providers, corporations, conference and event organisers, international universities, education colleges, local authorities and Government departments. We offer different membership levels to suit needs and budgets determined by an initial dialogue and recommendations based on the number of training activities.

If you are an international organisation and would like to find out more about the benefits of CPD certification, please visit the Become a CPD Provider page or contact our team to discuss your requirements in more detail.

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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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