Continuing professional development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is the process by which professionals keep their subject knowledge, technical and transferable workplace skills up to date throughout their career. By regularly taking part in CPD activities you can demonstrate your commitment and competence in your role, and benefit both yourself and your employer.
CPD is meant to complement your routine job, and is relevant throughout your career. You should regularly assess your skills and knowledge, identify what you need to learn to do your work better or more efficiently, and decide how (whether through attending events, taking part in training, or other activities) you can improve in the areas you identified.
Frameworks of professional development usually outline the skills, knowledge and professional behaviours that are expected in the workplace. This means they can be a useful source of information when you are working out what CPD you need to do. You may have number of options when choosing a framework to use, depending on what organisation or sector you are working. Some of the most common frameworks are:
- Organisational frameworks. Many companies will have an established and comprehensive outline of the competencies expected of their employees, which will usually be one of the first schemes you find out about when you start in your role. Some organisations have also created guidelines specific for the development of geographical skills and knowledge
- Sector frameworks. Detailed frameworks exist for some sectors of employment. For example, the Vitae Researcher Framework offers advice for anyone carrying out research within academia and beyond
- Professional body or accreditation frameworks. Many professions will have strict requirements for CPD, with annual CPD standards which have to be met. For example, 35 hours of CPD need to be carried out every year to maintain Chartered Geographer status
Finding CPD activities
There are a wide range of activities which can be counted as CPD, although you should always check what courses are acceptable to maintain an accreditation or professional membership. CPD that is counted towards professional accreditation or internal performance reviews should be related to helping you to do your everyday work. This does not stop you from learning about other subjects unrelated to your role, but this will usually have to be done outside working hours.
When looking for appropriate CPD activities, you should consider the following:
- Internal training schemes will be a key source of role-specific skills and knowledge updates
- Geographically-related CPD event listings can be found on the Society’s CPD opportunities web page
- Sign up to relevant event listing websites to keep up to date with key training in your sector
- If you do not have the time or funding to travel, webinars or online courses can be a good source of free/low-cost and convenient training
- If your company has a budget for employee CPD, see if this can be applied to external events or courses you discover
- Many jobs require the use of quantitative methods, so don’t forget to look for training to develop these areas
It is important to keep a record of all the CPD you do, so that you can refer to it in your professional development reviews. This record will also come in useful when applying for any accreditation or future jobs.
If you have a job which requires you to use your geographical skills and knowledge, keeping a log of all your CPD activities will allow to you to apply more easily for recognition through the Chartered Geographer accreditation scheme, as outlined in this guidance for those working towards CGeog status.