The added value of quality CPD in the workplace
CPD – or continuing professional development- is defined by the Professional Associations Research Network as ‘any process or activity that provides added value to the capability of the professional through the increase in knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the appropriate execution of professional and technical duties, often termed competence.’ In short, CPD means learning new skills and improving old skills, to get better at what we do. This includes industry-specific know-how like engaging with new technological advances, as well as soft skills in customer service.
So, what is it that has made CPD so popular over the past few years? Who does it benefit, how does it add value for individuals and businesses, and what can we learn from it? Read on to find out more!
Why is CPD important to businesses?
First things first, CPD is important because it can benefit a business or even an industry as a whole. Most importantly, it guarantees high standards throughout a given company. In particular, if the business has a number of employees planning their CPD at the same time, this group can share ideas on best practice with one another- this means that having even just a few employees dedicate themselves to CPD can have compound effects that greatly improve efficiency and expertise.
Not only that, but CPD keeps employees interested and engaged in their professional lives. While experience will always be the best way to become an expert in a particular field, CPD helps employees to learn fresh skills in completely new areas, as well as improve on existing soft skills. This helps businesses to cultivate not just an expert workforce, but a well-rounded workforce.
As for improving existing skills, the benefits of higher standards and a better trained workforce hardly need explaining. Employees are better prepared to face challenges they may face on a day to day basis, and in the long term. This kits out organisations with the best possible tool to survive slow growth and recession, and the best possible tool to maximise growth during peak years: a stellar workforce.
Why is CPD important to individuals?
But CPD is just as beneficial for the individual employee as it is for the business. Dedication to CPD improves an employee’s standing within the company they work for, since as employees gradually improve their skills, or learn completely new skills, they gain valuable expertise. Accredited CPD can help them to progress upwards either within the organisation, or even by searching for greener pastures elsewhere.
But CPD has more wide-ranging, holistic benefits for employees too. CPD, even though it has an emphasis on the ‘professional’, can improve self-confidence, self-esteem and life skills regardless of age or educational level. Of course, this can still make an employee more valuable within a business context; but it also has knock-on effects for the individual in their day to day life, helping them feel content with themselves and how they live. Nevertheless, the bottom line of the improvement that CPD makes in people’s lives is that it helps them earn higher salaries, because of their greater expertise and progression up the career ladder.
Why is CPD important to industries?
CPD is important within industries because it keeps standards high. Within businesses, employees- as we know- can quickly fall behind better prepared colleagues with more interest in their own development. On a large scale, within industries, keeping these standards high is important because it builds trust with the public and brings the best possible service to market. Take accounting as an example: accountancy is an industry regulated by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA. In an industry such as this, CPD is more important than ever, because of the responsibility that employees hold and the demands placed on them by their jobs.
Accountants are required to offer their clients an effective and high quality service, and work with due care and diligence; they hold extensive responsibilities, because, of course, their clients’ finances rely on them! Changes in tax law occur with each successive government, and new versions of software like Sage are released regularly. This means that it’s essential to continually improve on your professional knowledge just to stay up to date.
Without CPD, an accountancy firm risks falling behind its competitors, and employees risk being left out of their depth by the ever-changing world in which they work. This is the basis of the importance of CPD in professional, regulated industries: without it, the industry as a whole is at risk of falling behind technological and social change. But with CPD, standards remain high and customers remain satisfied.
Why do regulatory bodies insist on continuing professional development, and what can other industries learn from that?
The reason that regulated bodies hold CPD in such high regard is because of the variety of benefits it brings to the individual, the business, the industry, and in most cases even the public. The fact that CPD manages to tick all these boxes means that it’s by far the most cost-effective and efficient way to ensure the highest quality, which is in the interest of regulatory agencies like the ACCA, OFSTED and the HSE. They know full well that the reputation of the organisations they represent hinges on the professional service they provide, and CPD is the best way to ensure that.
But CPD shouldn’t just be important to a select group of industries or businesses- it should be important to everyone, in every line of work. The benefits that CPD can bring to you as a worker- even more generally as a person- mean that it could be of benefit to you whether you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or you work in a zoo! The lesson we can learn from the regulated industries that insist on CPD is that it is the backbone of their success, and the trust that the public feel when they do business with a registered, accredited company. Any business, any person can benefit from a better working relationship with the public.
The CPD Accreditation Group not only accredits CPD providers but also each CPD activities on its own merit, providing a unique Activity Code and Logo for each CPD Activity. This is then entered onto the CPD Register, which can then be searched by employers, governing bodies, institutes, trade officials or anyone who require verification of the CPD Activities Authentication.