At work lately, I have been privileged to work on a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program. For those that don’t know the philosophy of CPD, as a member of some companies/professional bodies, you must understand the value of life-long learning. Some companies/professional bodies there is an obligation to participate in continuing professional development (CPD) as part of your membership, and as the name suggests it ensures the learner continually builds the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in achieving their development and career goals.

I think CPD is a great program, as it increases value to your organisation and your clients, knowing that you have transferable skills and it also helps to build reputation as a business leader/consultant. The financial industry (which I am developing the CPD for) has in general been proactive in pushing towards attaining its status as a profession rather than a trade, and education standards are a key component of that, and as a result where degree qualified financial planners are the rule rather than the exception and come June, it will be mandatory. The industry staple qualification for compliance is the Diploma of Financial Services. Another key component is a proposed requirement for all financial advisers to complete a knowledge update review every three years to stay on top of rule changes, market issues and new products.

In the past, when I have asked professionals about the learning they access during the course of their careers, it seems that subject-specific CPD often takes a lower priority than their other training and development. For me, I find this is concerning. Without regular updates of the latest in pedagogy and content for a subject especially in public facing roles like financial planners, lawyers, accountants or even the medical field, there is a high risk that the content will be inaccurate and possibly put others at risk too.

Time is a precious commodity in any industry, and often the idea of putting aside an entire day, or two, for a professional development session can seem impossible. There is also the added trouble of trying to find a day that suits everyone. So, I am glad that I am working in online learning, where one of the real benefits can be seen – you can study whenever you want. So instead of having to put aside an entire day, you just need to find an hour here and there. Traditional workplace education includes educator costs, catering costs, often room hire costs and also the costs of covering shifts so other staff members can attend the training. However, with online learning these costs are removed. There is usually just a per person enrollment fee, which is often quite low when there are large groups getting trained.

Also within online learning it goes without saying that the broader community expects that the requisite skills and knowledge have been obtained in order to deliver service to a professional standard. Hence, CPD is a great model in order for those skills and knowledge to be obtained.

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