Don’t wait for CPD to become compulsory, there are good reasons to invest in your professional development now!

Perhaps you entered your profession 15 plus years ago or have recently commenced your journey as a building designer or energy rater or an engineer or a surveyor or other chosen profession. Has it turned out to be an exciting adventure or what you dreamt it to be?

If the first thing you ask when you get to work is ”Is it five o’clock yet?” or as a graduate, “Why aren’t I getting the roles I want? Or as an employee, “Why aren’t I progressing further in my role?”, then it is likely, you are not living up to your own expectations in a professional sense.

Blame yourself for not taking part in your own continuing professional development, also known as CPD. Don’t think it’s necessary at this point in your life -even if CPD is not compulsory? Think again! There are plenty of reasons why CPD is important in every way possible – professionally and personally.

Continuing professional development’ commonly abbreviated to ‘CPD’ refers to the work-related learning and development that should continue throughout your career. Professionals in some fields must complete mandatory CPD requirements in order to maintain their registration. For others it is entirely discretionary but no less important. CPD is one of the key mechanisms by which high standards of professional practice and the relevance and currency of qualifications and experience are maintained.

CPD covers a wide range of professional development options. ‘Formal CPD’ involves activities such as participation in short courses that enhance or add to your skills. It includes activities such as work-related courses and attendance at conferences. ‘Informal CPD’ includes learning new skills on the job and being mentored by somebody with more experience in your field. Informal CPD can also take place away from work settings – for example, when professionals learn about leadership by volunteering in their local community.

CPD: is an investment for you and your current or future employer or your business

Whatever your chosen field, continuing professional development (CPD) involves maintaining, enhancing and extending your knowledge, expertise and competence. It includes:

It’s useful to think of CPD as an investment – an investment by you in your career and an investment in your development as a contributing professional by your employer.

Applying a ‘return on investment’ mindset to planning your CPD is important because it focuses your thinking on the potential return in terms of career benefits from an investment of your time effort and possibly funding.

To apply a ‘return on investment’ approach to CPD it helps to ask yourself the following questions about the potential value of each CPD activity you consider:

  • what are the intended learning outcomes from this activity? (if the activity is a formal course this is a good question to ask the course provider)
  • what is the relevance of this particular activity to my current work role?
  • how will my employer benefit when I achieve the intended learning outcomes?
  • how will others (for example – clients, colleagues) benefit from my learning?
  • what are the longer-term benefits?


A smorgasbord of choices

There is a smorgasbord of continuing professional development (CPD) choices available to professionals who are willing to think creatively and analytically about their current role and career aspirations. There are three broad categories to think about:

  1.   formal CPD
  2.   informal work-related CPD
  3.   activities external to your work that contribute to your CPD.


Formal CPD includes:

  • full and part-time study including both accredited and non-accredited courses
  • conferences and seminars
  • undertaking research
  • writing papers that have been refereed and delivering work-related presentations
  • in-service education

External CPD

There are many opportunities to enhance your CPD through activities external to your workplace; for example:

  • volunteering can help develop your social skills capacity for leadership and/or project management skills
  • putting your hand up for a committee role associated with your involvement in a sport as a parent or in service or other club for people with shared interests
  • learning something new that is likely to help progress your career – for example learning a foreign language
  • engaging in an activity that develops you as a person. From martial arts to debating and from visual arts to yoga the choices are limited only by your imagination.

For professionals with a ‘CPD hours’ requirement to maintain their professional registration or ‘chartered’ status to achieve CPD choices must take into account the registering body’s criteria in terms of what counts.

These are usually published online. However no professional association or registration board sets upper limits on how much CPD you can do. Also keep in mind that some of your career aspirations may go beyond your technical accreditation – for example if you aspire to move into management – and your CPD planning should be shaped accordingly.


Making the most of your investment in CPD

Making the most of your investment in CPD involves three complementary activities:

  1.   maintaining a professional development portfolio
  2.   commitment to reflective practice
  3.   taking control of your CPD.

Your professional development portfolio

A professional development portfolio is your personal record of CPD activities and the value derived from them. It includes but goes well beyond keeping a record of formal learning activities such as the short courses and conferences you have attended. A comprehensive professional development portfolio should include:

  • a record of attendance at formal learning activities including details of the scope of your learning and the relevance to your work
  • evidence of your ongoing learning and development for example copies of any papers you have delivered
  • evaluation of your learning – for example how those around you at work – colleagues customers and the like have benefited from your investments in CPD
  • supporting documents such as certificates from accredited and non-accredited courses you have attended
  • a record of your reflections on your learning.

Here at Design Matters we provide our members with an online facility to track the time you spend on CPD .However, our system is not designed to provide the portfolio facilities outlined above. The benefits of maintaining a detailed portfolio include:

  • a ready source of detailed records that help keep your resume up to date and evidence your achievements
  • the basis for planning the next stages of your CPD
  • a focus for reflecting on the return on your investment in CPD
  • evidence of your career progress as inspiration to maintain your commitment to CPD.


Reflection and CPD

Reflection is about giving careful thought to your experiences at work to facilitate ongoing improvement in your performance. In the context of continuing professional development it includes thinking about your performance at work and the ways in which you can improve. It also involves thinking critically about the professional development activity you undertake in order to evaluate what you have learned its application in your current work role and its value to your employer. CPD-related reflection includes asking yourself questions about:

  • aspects of your work performance that could be improved
  • how new knowledge or a new skill could be applied in your current work role
  • who would benefit from your doing so
  • what you would need to do differently in order to successfully apply what you have learned
  • whether you found anything challenging
  • if you have any habits that would need to be changed in order to apply what you have learned.

Reflection should also involve an examination of your own subjective experience. For example, you applied a newly learnt skill from a recent course at work and it felt very awkward. You feel tempted to revert to how you did things before. You evaluate the benefits of persisting. By applying reflective practice in this way many professionals have been enabled to deal competently with their own resistance to change.


Taking control of your CPD - don’t wait for compulsory CPD

Regardless of whether you have mandatory CPD criteria to satisfy or your investment in CPD is purely discretionary the most satisfying results are achieved by professionals who drive their own CPD rather than waiting for a ‘push’ to satisfy professional registration requirements or when a manager points out areas for improvement. Over time the following activities can help you to be proactive and drive your own CPD.

  • Reflecting on your strengths and areas for improvement in your work.
  • Listening to and acting on feedback from your manager and from colleagues.
  • Being alert for CPD opportunities and assessing their relevance to your professional development needs.
  • Devoting time to career planning.
  • Ensuring that you have discussions with your manager about CPD, your interests and the organisation’s needs. This can lead to useful discussions about the level of support possible; i.e. the extent to which your employer is willing to invest in your CPD.


Here are 8 tangible reasons why CPD Matters:


Every job eventually becomes routine, but then this behaviour breeds complacency. When employees become complacent, then their work is either uninspired or riddled with errors.

One of the benefits of CPD is that your job performance improves because of:

  • new skills learned from professional development
  • a rejuvenation in your career; newfound interest in this field
  • you want to apply skills you recently acquired
  • a desire for better pay and promotion.

These characteristics are common once you routinely participate in workshops, enrol in courses or take advantage of the Design Matters CPD program.



Professionals typically determine that CPD saved their careers. Without career development, they may have been stuck in an entry- or low-level position. You are treading water if you refuse to hone and update your skills.

To better grasp this area, it is important to put yourselves in an employer’s shoes: wouldn’t you rather hire someone who is continually adding a new skill to their CV?

Learning should be a lifelong ambition, not something you do for a few years. And the more you learn, the greater the benefits you get to enjoy.


A lot of workers anticipate being compensated highly just for being themselves. But that’s not how the job market functions. Your human capital, supply and demand and employee-employer agreements are what matter – not what you feel you are entitled to.

With professional development, you will inevitably see your earnings jump. This could be accomplished by attaining new skills, adding a new accreditation to your CV or meeting industry insiders at these events that can lead to a new employment opportunity.


Great! You were on the cutting edge of technology in the 1990s when the digital disruption commenced in various technology and software systems. Unfortunately, a lot of us eventually become irrelevant if we don’t do anything to stay current. This is only expected when you refrain from finding a new skill, gaining a qualification in another subject or developing your current crop of professional attributes.

Don’t be stuck in your glory days; try to enter the current year with tools that are demand today!



Unfortunately, many of us expect the door to open without even pulling at the knob. We just wait for opportunities to be placed in front of us rather than try to seek them out and do what it takes to find chances to grow.

The one main outcome, and potentially the most important of CPD is that you will start to witness an abundance of new prospects. The more you develop professionally, the more you will begin to see an enormous amount of ways to succeed, from a potential employer-calling you to finally advancing in the firm you’ve been employed by for the last nine years.


Over a long period of time, people just become disinterested in their careers. There could be a diverse array of reasons for this dissatisfaction: burnout, disengagement, monotony and frustration.

Just because your job is not challenging, that doesn’t mean you need to sit on the sidelines going through the motions. You can take action to not only remain committed to the workplace but also reinvigorate your career by launching a plan to continuing your professional development.


How big is your social network? We are not talking about the number of friends you have on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter. We mean your true social network: industry contacts, your contact on your phone with numbers, and sources who can connect you with the right people who will then connect you with additional right people.


If you begin to notice that more of your colleagues or your competitors are more up to date, resourceful and passionate than you are and business is booming for them, then it is a sign that you have been left behind in your profession.

The importance of CPD is that you begin! Ensure you are current and on point in order to attract the right role and client. It will give you the edge.

This article was written using the following sources: