Pretty much every profession now insists on members completing some form of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to develop and enhance their abilities. There are over 1000 institutes & professional bodies across the UK, a number that is forecast to increase. The intention of CPD is to enable learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive.
Professional bodies often have an annual requirement of a minimum number of hours or assessment of development needs that members need to complete to maintain their qualification. Most institutes don't insist on every member submitting proof to them every year but operate an audit system, where they select a sample of the membership to submit proof that they're completing their CPD requirements. It's therefore important to review what the requirements of your professions CPD is and try to keep a log of anything that counts towards it.
As a contractor keeping up to date with CPD can be more challenging as you move around between assignments. Tracking and recording what you're learning can be difficult when you've not got a training or HR department to support you in this for the long term.
However demonstrating that you are up to date with the latest developments in your industry is even more important when you are moving between projects on a regular basis and marketing yourself to potential clients.
Courses that are marketed based on CPD can be prohibitively expensive to contactors. However CPD is not simply about attending courses. Any activity that helps you meet your development goals could count as CPD, including:
- Work-based learning
- Project work
- Academic and professional qualifications
- Internal and external training courses
- Conferences and events
- Reading technical reports and journals
- Online learning
- Coaching and mentoring
- Observation and feedback
- Discussion forums
The range of options available means that you can choose activities that suit your individual learning style, budget and personal preferences.