Understand how to strike the right balance of CPD activities in your career.
Continuing Professional Development is an important part of your career. It is worth unpacking the actual meaning of CPD:
Continuing – It should happen all the time throughout your career. If anything, it is more important as you progress.
Professional – It should be relevant to your role, organisation and sector. It should also consider your future aspirations. It isn’t just about indulging your interests!
Development – The key thing is learning and moving forward. It’s not just certifying what you already know. Sometimes you need to lay the foundations of your knowledge for further development in 2, 3 or 5 years.
CPD and reflective practice support your career – it isn’t just a form filling exercise. You should aim to:
Reflect on why you’ve undertaken a piece of professional development, and how it builds upon what you already know or do
Consider how what you learned will support your work, or that of others – this identifies ways to extract deeper value from this opportunity.
Use a framework to guide you. The Chartered Geographer Framework of Competencies or your employer’s competency framework will guide you in identifying what you will need next.
Keep a record, which helps you acknowledge what you can do now that you couldn’t before – a useful way of marking your development.
When it comes to striking the balance of CPD try and cover a range of different competencies, knowledge, skills and behaviours, as well as different types of activities or ways of learning. It may also be helpful to think of CPD as developing two broad aspects of your professional practice:
Learning related to professional competence, which includes: developing your area of specialism, growing or innovating your technical knowledge, skills, methods and techniques, and enhancing your application of geographical knowledge and skills to a range of professional contexts.
Learning related to career adaptability, which includes: developing the (transferable) skills of being a professional, from communication, teamwork and innovation to leadership, project management and strategic planning, perhaps within the context of your geographical knowledge and approaches
The type of CPD you do will be personalised to your development needs, and will change over time as your career progresses and priorities change. CPD may be defined in many ways, but commonly includes:
Conferences, seminars, courses and workshops (includes formal education and training): face to face or e-learning training courses, short courses and on-the-job training. You might be attending as a participant, contributing to the event’s organisation or programme, or leading/chairing the event, but it should have direct relevance to your role and/or CGeog’s framework of competencies to be recorded. Most activities of this type involve some form of assessment or formal evidence of completion/attendance.
Informal or self-directed learning: work-based learning and job shadowing, reading professional and academic publications, developing knowledge of and familiarity with technology, equipment or software, on-the-job development activities and private study. Informal learning is often blended with CPD of other types, e.g. follow-up activity after a formal training course. The Civil Service Guide to Learning in the Workplace provides a useful introduction for anyone interested in the ways in which you can draw upon your experiences at work to complement formal learning courses
Publications and media: Contributing to professional or academic publications in a variety of formats, from articles and magazines to reports, and broadcast or social media.
Consultancy and expert advice (outside your core work): Undertaking research or data collection/analysis in your area of specialism, offering expert witness testimony or advice, and sitting on external committees or bodies.
Mentoring and outreach (both offering and receiving): Sharing what you know and learn, especially when you are a manager or leader, e.g. through 1:1 or small-group mentoring or Action Learning Sets, and supporting Chartered Geographer or other accreditations by acting as an assessor or promoting schemes within or outside your organisation.
Self-directed learning is activities you can do on your own. This covers things such as reading professional blogs and publications or industry journals, engaging with sector specific news and research, and social media. It also includes completing some free, online courses (e.g. via FutureLearn, Udemy and others). Make sure you reflect on how this CPD has helped you grow your knowledge and skills.
Interactive learning is where you learn by attending or contributing to activities that others are involved in, such as formal training courses, conferences, e-learning (where you engage with other students or a tutor), discussions and forums. It may also be supporting a colleague in their learning.
Getting a good balance of self-directed and active learning will ensure you have a well-rounded approach to your professional development.
External CPD can be accumulated by attending conferences, presenting papers, leading discussions and attending training courses relevant to your profession. External CPD tends to be structured and formal; you will likely have a record of participation in some form.
Internal CPD can be accumulated through experience; by taking on projects or tasks that stretch your knowledge and skills, by working collaboratively and learning from others, through informal training or professional discussions, research, internal reporting and attending webinars/presentations.
Geographers should aim for 20 hours of external CPD and 15 hours of internal CPD each year.
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The Chartered Geographer Framework of Competencies can provide structure to your career development
Work experience is an excellent way to find out what careers you are interested in and improve your employment prospects.
Read our resource on careers in charity work, advocacy and third-sector organisations based on advice from geographers working in the sector.
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