It’s increasingly recognised that learning is a continuous, life-long process. This has been acknowledged formally in the growing importance of Continuing Professional Development or CPD for short.
In many professions, advancements and rewards are now dependent on obtaining and maintaining CPD credits. Some may view this as an additional burden on employees and training departments. It should, however, rather be seen as an opportunity to maintain and extend employee skills. CPD provides motivation and a way of engaging employees to learn new skills and increase organisations’ efficiency and productivity.
The benefits of CPD
Perhaps the biggest benefit of CPD from a learning and training perspective is that it makes learning and upskilling pro-active. Instead of being passive recipients of training courses and learning campaigns, employees are now actively incentivised to keep up their skills and acquire new ones. CPD is recognised across industries, so that the skills you acquire can be genuinely, and materially, transferable.
This change in emphasis and attitude extends to the wider organisation. Employees willing and empowered to continue to learn translate into a better, more efficient and productive workforce. Continuous learning is an investment for individuals, a way of acknowledging proficiency and a driving force to continue to learn. It’s a means to overcome widespread employee disengagement from training and helps create a culture of learning that is essential in the fast-paced, ever-changing modern working environment.
CPD in practice
To reap the potential benefits of CPD – both by individual employees and organisations as a whole – you need to go beyond just making it a requirement. The main point of CPD is to make learning both continuous and active, but if you look at many of the activities that are involved in gaining CPD credits you’ll find that many of them are passive, reflective and hard to assess.
What’s needed is to tie CPD in with the organisation’s training processes and create an active learning environment. CPD needn’t be separate to training, but rather its goal: a practical way for individual employees to improve their skills and to become or remain effective, capable and knowledgeable in their jobs.
CPD provides the motivation, but training departments and managers still need to ensure that employees engage with the training that leads to CPD credits.
Let’s look at 6 best practices that can help achieve that end.
1. Use Business Training Catalogues
One way of ensuring that CPD becomes less of a box-ticking, self-regulated exercise is to use elearning. Elearning modules have the power to motivate learners and make learning an engaging, active experience in contrast to the passive, reflective tasks that account for many CPD activities.
Business Training Catalogues are suites of elearning modules that cover essential business skills across a range of activities from Finance, to Leadership, to Project Management to Communication Skills, and so on. The advantage they bring is that they are ready made and ready to deploy.
Training Catalogues are constantly updated to address skills deficits. They are created by industry experts and are often approved by accrediting bodies, so they represent best practice and embody current thinking. They provide both the training material and means of assessments. They are visually engaging and deploy popular and effective learning strategies, such as scenario-led activities and gamification, designed to appeal to the modern learner. Their self-paced approach places the learner firmly in control.
2. Give learner control
The appeal of CPD for learners is that it’s a formal recognition of their attainment and skills. CPD is tied to career advancement and can provide a pathway for career development, whether within the current organisation and beyond. The benefit for employers is that you have a driven, motivated workforce that is proactively enhancing its skill set.
To achieve that you need to ensure that you give your employees the tools to make continuous development possible. This can be difficult to manage in a pressured working environment where training might be considered a cost or burden.
Again elearning in the form of Training Catalogues can provide an answer. The content they provide can be worked through at the learner’s own pace. It can be accessed when they have time to engage with it – in the office or at home. Learners are encouraged to direct their own learning – a valuable, transferable skill in itself and essential if lifelong, continuous learning is to be sustained.
Placing responsibility on the learner goes beyond the honour system that applies to some CPD. It encourages learners to discover their own learning gaps and actively take control of and direct their own learning path.
3. Make training accessible and flexible
CPD represents a challenge to the rigidity of formal training. Its concentration on individual achievement means is less susceptible to the whole-class training associated with instructor-led sessions. CPD offers flexibility in that employees can apply for credits when they feel ready for them rather than simply receiving a certificate for attendance at a training course.
CPD training needs to reflect that flexibility. The advantage of digital, elearning content is that it can be remodelled, adapted and re-purposed to suit learners’ needs. It can be broken down into more manageable, digestible chunks. Five minutes of learning may be all an individual needs or has time for. Courses can be reworked into resources or quick-fire tests of knowledge, to be used for just-in-time learning or as a refresher. This allows employees to manage their time better and understand what they need and what they already know.
4. Enable mobile learning
One of the fundamental changes in the way we access information is the rapid development of mobile access. We’re all armed with mobile devices and increasingly use them to access information and learn skills. We can make use of this always-on, always-available technology to improve access to training materials.
Elearning modules can be made accessible across platforms and devices. The content can be adapted to suit mobile access. This extends the provision of professional training, allowing learners to access it where and when they need it. Learning on the go fits in neatly with the concept of continuous learning.
5. Keep track
If learning is to be continuous, then monitoring that learning should be too. Access to and use of elearning Training Catalogues can be tracked through a Learning Management System. Usage analysis can point to which content is popularly accessed and which is not. Feedback from learners can be used to identify where gaps lie.
This data can be passed to the Training Catalogue providers to develop new content. Or equally it can be used by in-house L&D staff to amend, update and customise the e-learning module they have. Ease of customisation is a key feature of e-learning modules.
Training modules can also be combined with the introduction of an e-Portfolio. The Portfolio records CPD progress and attainment. Learner dashboards give employees a quick overview of their CPD record, highlight achievements and indicate what needs to be worked on next. E-Portfolio records can be exported so that employees have a permanent, portable copy of their CPD record.
6. Make CPD work for the organisation
While CPD focuses on individual attainment and progress, it can also be used to benefit the organisation’s overall training goals.
Using Training Catalogues for CPD is cost effective. By keeping CPD in house you don’t need to send people out on industry training courses and risk losing productivity.
CPD can also be aligned with an organisation’s business needs. You can prioritise the skills you require from employees by selecting the areas for development and providing the training content to match.
Organisations can use CPD as a way of encouraging development in those areas and recognising attainment with formal, industry-recognised certification. Many Training Catalogues are not only approved by industry, but also offer external accreditation by professional bodies. You can then complete the circle by tying CPD clearly to career development within your organisation.Continuous Professional Development is key to advancing and retaining the employee skills your organisation needs. Business Training Catalogues provide a cost-effective and pro-active way of driving CPD and improving efficiency and productivity.