Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is one of those things most of us have heard of in our professional careers, but never really seem to take on as often as we’d like to. We are responsible for our own professional development and sometimes, there just isn’t enough time in the day to think about it. We all know that time is valuable but every now and again, you should take a little bit of it to think about your CPD, what you want and how you are going to achieve your goals. This article is all about the importance of your CPD and what you can be doing.
What is CPD?
Continuing Professional Development is more than just reading up on a subject. It can take many forms and there is something for everyone. We all learn differently, so it’s important to do things the way you want. It may be internal training at work, online learning, coaching and even shadowing and learning from someone else at work.
Getting your job is just the first step. If you want to progress in a company or upskill for your next role, then you should be keeping up to date with the latest practices. You can do this by:
- Taking the time to work on your personal skills
- Online courses – meaning you can do this when you have time
- Conferences and networking events
- Workshops (At work or externally)
It’s not all about enhancing your engineering skills. These are important but being able to work well with others and enhance your soft skills, will keep you as a very high achieving candidate when the time comes for a new job.
Do it for yourself
You’re not the only person in the world doing the job that you do. There is a pool of talent out there and if you want to keep up, then you want to be at the same level as those other candidates when you start to job search again. People are training to be engineers every single day, technology changes, software gets updated and if you want to have the same knowledge as others, you have to put the time and effort into it. Your CPD isn’t for anyone else, it’s for you and your goals.
Other engineers in the same industry as you will be doing continuous professional development, and it’s likely that you’ll want to keep up with them. Training is key, it’s important you do this for yourself, but your employer may also offer training that will keep your skills relevant.
It gives YOU value
As they say, knowledge is power. The more you know about your role, the business you work for and the practises it does, the more valuable you may be as an employee and a team member. Not only does CPD give you value within the company, but within your team too. If you know what you’re talking about in your job more than others, you’ll be able to help others and show that you should be valued in your role. There is a world-wide skills shortage in the engineering sector, so being aware and doing something about it can really set you apart. Do it for yourself.
It’s personal too
CPD isn’t purely for the benefit of the company you work for; it’s as much personal development as it is professional. Certain CPD courses can increase your confidence and overall wellbeing. It can make you feel more valued and sometimes even inspire you to work harder. You might find that you’ll push for targets that you never felt you had the knowledge to take on previously.
Plan it out
It’s always better to take a planned approach to continuous professional development. If you have a goal of what type of job you’d like to have in the next three to five years, have a look at how you can get there and the timeframe allowances for this. Make sure to factor in time for saving up for a course if decide you want to fund it yourself.
- Is it part-time or full-time?
- Would your current employer be okay with you taking time out of the office for a course?
- Will this be flexible to the time you have available?
Chances are if it’s relevant to the company and role you’re currently in, employers may be flexible. But it’s something you would have to research.
Gather research and advice
Are you unsure of what particular CPD is best for you? Speak to your manager and/or colleagues in your team. They might be able to point you in the right direction. Have you looked at what courses your employer may be offering internally? Ask someone in HR if you’re still unsure. Take some time when you’re not in the office to research courses and training sessions. You can look at webinars, one-day training sessions, books and interactive presentations and videos.
There are also institutions that can help you with this kind of thing. The IET has a team of people ready to help you with your CPD. Worth investigating if you think it’s right for you.
It never ends
Continuing professional development can be never ending. There is always something new or a software that has changed, look at the bigger picture to keep you going. It can be essential to look into skills that you may be required to have as well as professional qualifications and extra training sessions.
A lot of people despise training because it either takes them out of their comfort zone or takes them away from their desks. It’s always a good idea to undergo training just to shake up your routine. You never know, you might learn something you never thought would be beneficial!
With the right knowledge and understanding, you can become a mentor, and you’ll be able to contribute substantially to your field as a whole. Give it a go.