What is CPD Continuing Professional Development

Continuing Professional Development, CPD is an essential part of the life of any professional including electronic engineers to provide new skills new situations & technologies.

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CPD or continuing professional development should be a key part of the life of any electronic engineer, or any professional person.

As careers advance new skils will be needed to be able to be able to properly achieve in whatever the new responsibilities may be.

Continuing professional development, cpd: learning, online courses, directed learning, work based learning . . .

It may be that new technical skills are required, or it may be that new management skills are required. Whatever new skills are needed, then the new skills will need to be learned.

Some CPD may come about by learning on the job, some by being mentored, others by reading up on the new topic using a book or the Internet, but others may need more formal training in the form of a course.

In addition to this, formal qualifications soon become outdated, especially if they are related to technology, as new technologies are appearing all the time and older ones are advancing.

Basics of CPD, Continuing Professional Development

To some, continuing professional development may be thought of as a necessary evil, undertaking a few courses in a hap-hazard manner and taking up time and reducing productivity.

However, one of the key aspects of CPD is that it makes learning a conscious and proactive activity to enhance personal skills for application in the workplace.

In reality CPD normally provides a significant return on investment as it enables engineers and other professionals to become more effective, fitting into new situations as well as being able to adopt new techniques and technology.

CPD can be considered as a lifelong commitment to learning. It is a forward looking attitude of mind where new opportunities, techniques and technologies are grasped. Those who undertake CPD should be more forward looking, as they are more likely to have a grasp of new techniques and technologies and not afraid of change and moving forward.

In practice, continuing professional development can mean a variety of things: from on the job training, to mentoring, reading updates and researching new techniques and technologies to undergong training whether in person or online.

There are several ways in which CPD can be undertaken:

Key aspects of CPD

CPD, continual professional development needs to have certain elements to it:

  • It needs to be a documented process.
  • It needs to be self-driven so that it is something done for the sake of it.
  • Learning should take a variety of forms: experience, reflective learning, being mentored as well as more formal training in terms of webinars, events, and online training or more traditional courses.
  • For it to be most effective, there need to be development goals and objectives.
  • The CPD should be reviewed periodically to ensure it is meeting the goals set for it or to set new goals, etc.

CPD is important and it is often a requirement for many professional institutions who will have their own schemes they run for it - soem have their own online recoding systems for it.

Benefits of CPD

CPD is most successful and useful if there is a real keenness by the professional to train and keep up to date, enhancing their skillset allt he time.

Understanding the benefits of CPD can be a real motivator, and soem of the benefits are listed below:

  • CPD may be a requirement for some professional bodies and institutes.

  • The CPD record provides a good summary of professional development.

  • The CPD record can be used to highlight any gaps in training or experience that might be needed for the current time or in the future.

  • Can provide a good summary of training and experience to include in a CV or as a demonstration to prospective employers.

  • It can be a positive talking point for an interview.
  • It can help demonstrate professional carer development to existing employers
  • For self employed engineers or professionals who act as consultants or contractors it will demonstrate forward thinking and ability to engage with new ideas.

Accordingly undertaking CPD provides many benefits in terms of carrer advancement as well as a feeling that new ideas can be tackled rather than not having the knowledge and experience and shying away from anything new.. This can result in a lack of career advancement or being sidelined.

Types of CPD

CPD can take many forms and a good balance of the different types of learning and experience gained from CPD should be sought. In this way the new skills gained will not just be academic, or practical, etc, but a mixture of everything.

By having a good balance of all types of CPD, the person undertaking the CPD will have a much better balance and understanding, gaining a wealth of new skills that are backed up by a good academic or technical undetstanding as well as knowing how to apply the new skills in everyday work life.

The main areas of CPD include the headline tops mentioned below, although it should be remembered that different organisations may classify them in slightly different ways.

  • Work based learning:   This type of continuing professional development can be gained from time spent "on-the-job." However, it is not just simply spending time working as it needs to be more directed. It needs to include specific time reflecting on experiences at work, considering feedback from colleagies and superiors as well as service users. Spending time being a member of a committee is also valuable as it shows a variety of ways people might address solving problems. If time is taken reflecting on this, it cna be very useful experience.

  • Professional activity:   This can involve a variety of activities including being involved in a professional body or giving a presentation at a conference.

  • Formal education & courses:   This activity is the formal training element which is particularly valuable. It can involve face to face training as well as online training, etc. It can even involve carrying out research.

  • Self-directed learning:   This activity includes undertaking one's own learning by reading books, articles, etc.

When considering any CPD it is work seeing how any formal traing might be undertaken. A variety of very good online courses can be found at very reasonable costs from high quality providers. It is always worth ensuring that the providers are respected for their high quality training.

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How to record CPD

One of the main aspects of CPD is that it is a structured development. Not only should it be planned, but the development should be recorded.

In this way the continuing professional development can be assessed and the overall learning can be reflected upon to gain the maximum from it.

Many professional bodies and institutions have their own ways in which CPD should be recorded - many have distinct areas within their websites where members can login and record their activities.

As a basic outline, some of the main aspects that should be recorded should include the following:

  • Date.
  • Learning objective.
  • Subject area.
  • Method of learning - reflected, on-the-job training, training course, etc.
  • Number of hours.
  • Points, if awarded. (Many organisations have a system of points for different courses, activities, etc).
  • Learning outcome.

It is very important to assess the learning outcome and send some time reflecting on this to see what has been learned. Even going back after a few months will help refresh the experience and ensure that any benefits can be reinforced, etc.

CPD or continuing professional development is a crucial activity for any professional person, including electronic engineers. BY undertaking a structured and documented approach, it can be far more effective than random training that may or may not be suitable in meeting the aims of what is needed for a particular career.

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