Continuing professional development is vital for professionals wanting to keep your skills up-to-date and can help improve your job satisfaction levels. It can add to your creativity through learning about different approaches, help find alternative solutions to challenges, and make greater use of research and data in your work.
There are a variety of ways you can plan and develop your skills from attending training courses and taking part in webinars and workshops, to reading authoritative journals and articles, to voluntary work designed to expand particular skillsets.
At Non Stop Business Support and Non Stop News UK, we are committed to supporting professional development in our own sectors of management and communications, and assisting organisations with their take up and systems for CPD in general.
In a series of articles for institutes and research reports, we have been highlighting different professional CPD schemes and what they can learn from each other. Here Abha Thakor explores one run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which is open to all of its members working in the communications field including public relations practitioners, digital and web advisors, content editors and marketing professionals.
What is CPD?
Continuing Professional Development, also known as Continuing Professional Education, is about keeping up to date with good practice, research and skills in your chosen profession.
The CIPR runs an annual CPD scheme for its members to maintain and raise standards in the profession, to highlight good practice and enable shared learning and innovation. Users of the programme say it has helped to improve career confidence and adaptability, developed analytical and creative skills, and is a way of maintaining an awareness in trends and technical changes to better support organisations and their stakeholders.
“CPD can help improve career confidence, show adaptability, improve opportunities and enable you to find more informed solutions”
The CIPR’s CPD scheme provides an online logging system and resources scored with a prerequisite number of points for completion. Members can either sign up to the occasional logging of points or to completing the required 60 points each year. The modules are split into ‘developing yourself’ or ‘supporting others’. From 2015, this includes a compulsory ethics module. Through the successful completion of two years on the scheme and achieving the required 120 points, communications professionals reach Accredited Practitioner status. This is one of the requirements for achieving and maintaining the Chartered PR Practitioner award. The Institute operates a publicly-available Register of PR Professionals. This online listing displays whether a communications practitioner has achieved Accredited Practitioner or the higher Chartered PR Practitioner status.
How many points can I log?
You can log as many CPD activities as you like in the year or combine particular activities. You need to amass 60 points per annum to successfully complete the CPD requirement for the CIPR.
Planning your learning
There are benefits from planning and reviewing your CPD programme. I have found the following approach has worked well for organisations and individuals we have supported and mentored, and in my own professional development. I regularly log more than the 60 points required by the CIPR’s scheme, with my chosen activities based on a development plan I produce at the beginning of each year.
My own plan also includes a review of learning from the previous year, together with implementation of it in the workplace, and a selection of topics on new trends and approaches. This has helped to keep the CPD interesting as well as building and providing an opportunity to review previous years’ development and link it to workplace and clients’ communications and administration challenges. This ensures theory is translated into action. Without practical application, CPD can become purely an academic exercise and the developmental opportunities can be lost. If a book or article series has not proved useful, and does not help develop my current good practice, I tend not to log it but provide feedback to the Institute if it is one of their pre-approved CPD items.
Sharing with others
I have been the CPD-lead for the Local Public Services group (a national network of public service communicators who are members of the CIPR) and other management and communications organisations for a number of years. Through this, I have been able to share and assist fellow practitioners in both the communications and management fields. In 2014-2015, the number of practitioners with whom I have had contact regarding CPD issues has been the highest yet and we have been able to establish informal topic-segmented working groups and forums. The numbers signing up to CPD in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and the Chartered Management Institute shows an increasing commitment of professionals in these sectors to constantly improve their skills and services for the benefit of both their own practice and the organisations they work with. Through working together we can all raise the CPD bar and consequently professional standards. We can continue to improve the different offerings available, identify and curate good practice and enjoy learning. As shown in other professions, all these things can directly help in delivery, the advancement of good practice in communications and management, and not least encourage and enthuse our colleague practitioners.
Through various CPD discussion groups, it has been possible to share different solutions with organisations, suggest material to assist data-seeking practitioners or offer alternative approaches to solve a communications or management issue. CPD can and should be easily tailored to the needs of each practitioner. It can also provide a specialism-based benchmarking for development which can be integrated into a workplace performance management system.
When working with both organisations and fellow practitioners, as well as in my own practice, I recommend reviewing CPD plans regularly during a year. This can make the points gathering easier and more focused on what each practitioner wants to gain for their own development to achieve their career goals and for the benefit of their organisations and clients.
Whether you undertake the CIPR CPD scheme as a member of the Institute, or pursue CPD through another route, why not start planning and enjoying your professional development journey today?
The CIPR’s CPD website www.cipr.co.uk/cpd
CIPR CPD resources – include toolkits, fact sheets, webinars and more from the CIPR.
What is CPD? [Wikipedia article]
Chartered Management Institute’s CPD scheme and its Management Direct resources
[This article contains some findings and materials that were first published in March 2015]