The term Professional development usually refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience to enhance an individual’s current work practice and future career. It is a record of any experiences, learning and practical applications gained beyond any initial training. Continuing professional development (CPD) is understood across most professions as the systematic acquisition of knowledge and skills, and the development of personal qualities, to maintain and enhance professional competence.
At its core professional development is about you, and your commitment to your ongoing learning and ethical practice. It encourages looking forward and identifying opportunities to learn something new, refresh your knowledge and skills, or keep up to date with the latest developments within your profession. In practice, it could mean everything from taking a new qualification to learning new aspects of a job, or taking a professional training course to refresh existing knowledge.
No matter what industries we work in, all of us are expected to continue learning about our field and doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. The marketplace, the employees you're tasked with leading, and the customers you'll interact with are always changing. As the worldwide business landscape evolves, so does the importance of professional development programs.
Engaging in professional development training ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become outdated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ regardless of occupation, age or educational level.
Well-crafted and delivered professional development ultimately delivers benefits to the individual, their profession and the public. The process is usually an ongoing one, since the ever-changing dynamics of the market constantly demand that employees keep their knowledge base properly updated.
The importance of professional development is to:
According to the U.K Engineering Council CPD policy statement, “All members of professional engineering institutions have an obligation to maintain their competence through CPD, and to support the learning of others. Engineering Council registrants make a further commitment to recording their CPD. This obligation underpins the value of the professional titles of Engineering Technician, ICT Technician, Incorporated Engineer and Chartered Engineer, as well as serving society and enabling it to have confidence in the engineering profession”
In this context CPD can be considered as a mandatory requirement for all the professionals who are members of any professional institutions.
Engaging in self-development activity helps you to demonstrate a willingness and ability to improve skills, identify knowledge gaps, and invest in your own career, while giving you the opportunity to progress to a new specialism without the commitment of full time education. Professional development courses and other forms of training can help target the specific skills employers are looking for, helping you upgrade your CV and toolbox in order to stay competitive in today’s ever-changing job market.
CPD can take a variety of different forms. At its heart is informal learning through the challenges and opportunities of working life, and interaction with others (e.g. colleagues, customers, suppliers) including professionals from other disciplines. However, this may be supplemented by structured activities such as courses, distance learning programmes, private study, preparation of papers and presentations, mentoring, involvement in professional body activities, or relevant voluntary work. (This list is not intended to be exhaustive).
While most engineering professionals undertake CPD, this is often on a casual basis, without any deliberate planning, recording of activities, or conscious reflection. Whatever its purpose or nature, learning through CPD should be reflective and should relate to specific objectives even if these are only to maintain their professional engineering competence. Having a regularly reviewed development plan will facilitate learning, although there will always be a place for unplanned activities. Registrants should record both their CPD activities and what they have learned or achieved through them, and relate this to any planned objectives.
Remember it is not about the quantity of the activities but the quality of the reflections linked to them. What you choose to do will ultimately depend on the areas that you wish to develop. It is for you to recognize needs and opportunities both inside and outside your workplace and to take advantage of developing your own professional development program.
The availability of a mixture of learning opportunities, including both formal and informal professional development activities is imperative in today's modern workplace and can be broadly defined into three types:
Structured CPD adopts an interactive approach underpinned by participatory learning. The method's integral activities are training courses, workshops, conferences, seminars, lectures, and e-learning courses. Structured professional development also covers career orientated assessments and exams. Bear in mind, however, that the study and revision for these exams are regarded as self-directed learning.
Reflective CPD is one-directional and passive, and there is no participant-based interaction involved. Examples include reading relevant news articles, case studies, and industry updates, as well as listening to podcasts. Some informal meetings fall into the Reflective CPD bracket, so long as their learning objectives are specified in an individual's overall professional development plan.
Self-directed learning constitutes all unsupervised professional development activities, including reading articles and publications, either online or in print. Unstructured learning material includes peer-reviewed books and studies, industry journals, trade magazines, and industry-specific news feeds. Remember: Professional development doesn’t just cover on-the-job training. It also includes any outside form of education or learning which can help improve a professional’s skills and knowledge.
The most successful personal and professional development is done in a systematic and intentional manner. In order to fully embrace the benefits of personal and professional development, you should set goals for yourself. What do you hope to get out of your development activities, and how will you go about reaching those goals?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that all goals must be SMART:
In order to create a plan for yourself (or for your employees), you should keep a folder or portfolio of all your development activities, drawing on your learning diary. Your plan is personal to you and your own development needs, and therefore any activities must be fully owned and managed by you.
An example of a CPD could be easily accessed online nowadays, and should be read in conjunction with the requirements outlined below. This task is relatively short, succinct and designed to be helpful in evaluating your leadership development. It enables you to reflect upon your recent experience and to focus on the next stage of your training and development.
Creating your CPD has three stages as follows:
Stage 1 – Personal Analysis. The first stage is designed to analyse your strengths and weaknesses. You will be able to draw heavily upon your career and the outcomes of courses that you may have attended. These should be supplemented by the perceived opportunities that will have been derived from your experience and any threats to your continued success.
Stage 2 – Setting Goals. This involves setting new and clearly definable goals for yourself which are measurable.
Stage 3 – Personal Objectives. This stage involves setting out your personal objectives. These can also be set in context within your civilian employment, or professional institution which will be helpful in reinforcing its value.
UK Engineering Council has listed the following points under its CPD Code for registrants,
Many professional institutes now provide their online platforms for the members to record their CPD and some of the relevant pages can be accessed through below links.https://www.imarest.org/membership https://www.rina.org.uk https://www.nautinst.org Source : Internet
CONTRIBUTED BY CHARAKE WICKREMANAYAKE