VSJ – June 2009 – Work in Progress

It’s exactly three years since we signed an agreement with the Institute of Continuing Professional Development that allows our members to apply for ICPD membership. Helen Nother of the CPD Foundation explained, in VSJ for July 2006, how the Institute of Continuing Professional Development aims to raise professional standards through individual recognition. We’re reprinting a revised version of her article here, as a reminder to members of the usefulness of the mechanism to them.

It is not enough in today’s world to gain a professional qualification and expect it to have lifetime currency. Professionals in all fields need to recognise the importance of lifelong learning, of which continuing professional development (CPD) is a vital part. Different professions have different ideas about what constitutes CPD, but one definition, adopted by the Institute of Continuing Professional Development is:

The systematic maintenance and improvement of knowledge, skills and competence, and enhancement of learning, undertaken by a person throughout his or her working life.

The key aspects to CPD are:

Provision: It is important for organisations to consider to what extent they are able to provide CPD themselves and to what extent they should work with other bodies on CPD provision. Many professional bodies in the engineering and technology fields, for example, are now collaborating to make available to their members access to various sources of CPD through a number of channels, not least the Internet.

Accreditation and Evaluation: The structures needed to accredit and evaluate CPD can be complex, and co-operation between professional bodies can save time and resources, helping to avoid duplication of effort. Computerised systems are being developed to ease the workload involved in these processes, ways of accrediting and evaluating CPD are being investigated, and joint mechanisms are being introduced. The Professional Associations Research Network (www.parn.org.uk) for example, is active in these areas.

Planning: General guidelines on CPD are being developed by professional bodies and companies to enable members and employees to plan their careers as effectively as possible. Individuals can profitably ask themselves five questions as part of a learning and development plan:

1. Where have I been in relation to CPD?

2. Where am I now?

3. Where do I want and need to be?

4. How will I get there?

5. How will I know when I have arrived?

Recording and Demonstrating: Various mechanisms exist to enable people to record and demonstrate their CPD in hard-copy form, on disk or on the Internet. Many engineering and technology organisations provide their members or employees with Web-based personal development records (PDRs), and diary-based planning and recording systems are available from various IT companies.

The Institute of Continuing Professional Development is committed to working with professional bodies and other organisations, including companies, colleges and universities, employers’ associations and trade unions, to promote CPD generally and make all professionals more aware of how it benefits them personally and the wider public.

It is a multi-disciplinary organisation that recognises individual achievement and commitment to the advancement of CPD. Its key objective is to raise standards for the long-term public good. It achieves this through the use of designatory letters, given to individuals who demonstrate a personal commitment to their own CPD.

All professionals, whatever their discipline, who are able to show that they carry out CPD significantly above the minimum required by their main professional body, can gain extra recognition by becoming members of the Institute. The letters FInstCPD are a distinguishing mark that demonstrates to clients, colleagues and the public in general an individual’s proven commitment to CPD and lifelong learning.

Fellowship of the Institute requires the annual submission of evidence of appropriate CPD activity. Individuals can also apply to become an Associate member. A number of professional bodies, including the Institution of Analysts and Programmers, recognising the potential benefit to both the individual and the public through higher professional, ethical and public service standards, have elected to assist the Institute with this validation process.

The Institute is part of the Continuing Professional Development Foundation, an educational charitable trust that has been a provider of CPD since 1981. Jonathan Harris, founder of both organisations, says, “Why not acknowledge those individuals who actively engage in continual learning and understand the importance of a structured approach to their study and training? Professional bodies and organisations face many practical difficulties in monitoring their members’ CPD, but if individuals who voluntarily do more than the minimum are properly rewarded, this may well encourage others to follow suit and help the professions themselves to raise standards.”

The Institute currently counts among its Fellows a cross-section of practising professionals, from barristers to surveyors, programmers to solicitors. Fellowship also facilitates networking and partnership among individual professions and the groups with which they are associated, serving as a platform for occasional events addressed by high-profile individuals of relevance to all professionals.

The amount of CPD required will depend upon the individual’s own professional minimum requirement but, as a general guideline, any professional who can show that they complete at least 50 per cent more than their own professional body’s minimum CPD requirement annually, in hours or points, can become a Fellow and be rewarded with the right to use the letters FInstCPD.  In the case of the IAP, members who have completed, and can demonstrate, no less than 20 points of qualifying CPD in the previous 12-month period can apply to the Institute for Fellowship. General guidelines on what constitutes qualifying CPD are available on the application form for Fellowship, and a full explanation of the Components, Categories and Boundaries of the IAP Points System can be found in section 2 of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers Membership Evaluation Scheme.

It is clear that individuals and organisations that ignore CPD and lifelong learning, or do not treat them seriously, will get left behind as patterns of work and leisure continue to change beyond our expectations.

For further information about the ICPD please contact the Institute on 020 7828 1965 or go to www.cpdinsitute.org. To discuss your application, email Robin Jones at eo@iap.org.uk.

[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

Comments are closed.