In general, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is any activity engaged in by a qualified professional through which they continue to develop professionally. CPD is about learning and development that enhances the participant's effectiveness in their professional role. This should maintain and enhance existing competences as well as developing new knowledge and skills. It should not be exclusively about formal courses or qualifications, and may involve development in both technical and non-technical areas. CPD includes a wide variety of activities such as open learning, private study, work experience and many more.
A committed professional should see CPD as primarily about maintaining and building knowledge and competence for their own personal career development rather than just a chore to satisfy external requirements. CPD can add to an individual's knowledge (e.g. of regulations), improve their skills (e.g. in managing projects) or both (e.g. of managing a project without breaching regulations).
Defining the CPD poses an interesting problem although a number of eminent researchers and organisation have categorised the different approaches. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) define CPD as "the need for individuals to keep up to date with rapidly changing knowledge" (Website 1). Other organisations refer to structured processes "to maintain, develop and enhance skills, knowledge and competence both professionally and personally in order to improve performance at work" (Website 2). The Chartered Institute of Management (Website 3) states that 'Effective CPD is a commitment to professionalism - it shows that you have taken personal responsibility for ensuring that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the challenges of an ever changing world. The process should benefit the individual, and also the business as a whole.
Approaches to CPD activities
The CPD activities can be categorised as work based learning, professional activity, formal/educational, and self-directed learning. In this article the author chose to evaluate her approach to the formal educational learning activity, i.e. the MSc in HRM.
Conducting this formal educational learning activity the author seeks to broaden and deepen her awareness of the topic of Human Resource management, knowledge and skills. The course covers theory as well as practical applications (i.e., through the work-placement), and lead to a qualification (Msc in HRM). There is a significant time commitment to do this. Thus, it is the author view that in order to complete the course successfully, effective time management and planning is very important.
Ideas about learning styles and learning cycles have influenced the growth of interest in continuous development. It is widely accepted that people learn in different ways and that learning can take place in a wide range of different settings - not just at work (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2005). CPD enables the integration of learning with work in a way that should be meaningful and relevant to the individual own development needs. Learning undertaken in this way can become a habit, 'thinking positively about problems and viewing them as opportunities for learning (Wood 1988, p12) and it is also important to stress that CPD is a process not a techniques.
The CPD cycle
The CPD process can be carried out by undertaking step-by-step process (see, Figure 1). However, the basis for most training remains the traditional training process system (see Figure2). This comprises four main steps: 1) Identifying development needs, i.e., identifying training and learning needs; 2) devising a learning plan - prioritizing needs and selecting appropriate activities; 3) undertaking development activities and; 4) recording and evaluating outcomes (Megginson & Whitaker, 2007).
Now, if we consider the contents of the MSc in HRM, in relation to the CPD cycle and the author's approach to achieving her goals, i.e., completing the MSc in HRM with at-least merit pass for all modules together with appropriate particle experiences. The first step is that identifying development needs. According to Inglis (1994) identifying development needs means developing an Extraordinary Realistic Self Image (ERSI), which should consist the elements of work it self, reflection by self, feedback from others, individual psychometric & self -diagnostic measures, organizational metrics and professional metrics. Moreover in the case of individual identifying development needs includes, feedback from others, self-assignment, reflection, personal & professional congruence and aspirations / dreams.
In this case, the author as an individual, taking all the above factors into consideration she set up her development needs as follows; by studying MSc in HRM she wish to develop her ability to make an effective contribution at a strategic level in today's rapidly changing organizational contexts, internally or externally. She also wants to learn more about the effective management and utilization of human resources in organizations. By the end of this course, she hope to achieve more knowledge about strategic perspective and operational perspective, also she would like to gain more knowledge and skills to motivate and manage employees, and become a reflective practitioner in this specialist field, so-called human resources management, and develop a strategic understanding of HRM in relation to organizational processes. At present the author is only an affiliate member of the CIPD and by the end of the course she aim to gain graduate membership of the CIPD and in the long time her aspirations is to become a fellow of CIPD.
Now, she needs some criterion for deciding which of these needs should be given priority. In relation to this Stephan Covey (1990) emphasized the need to focus on the areas that are important and non-urgent. Megginson (1994) created a framework called SPICE, which covers a range of areas and has a memorable acronym. SPICE involves setting goals in the areas of spirit, physical, intellect, career and emotion. Another model presented by Hawkins (1999), so-called BEST model suggests that we can set goals that get the best out of us if we look for goals that help us to: Broaden - move us into new areas; Enjoy - get us doing more of the things that we love; Stretch - take us into new areas, doing more, facing bigger challenges; Think -challenge our understanding and mastery, demanding deeper insight. The next framework to take into account is the modes model discussed in Boydell and Leary (1996). Each mode has certain key characteristics and strengths, and the large movements of our life, when we notice that we are viewing the world from a radically different perspective are about moving from one mode to the next. Figure 3 briefly describes each of the modes, which may help to identify where we stand in our development. The model begins at the bottom and as we develop we work up through the modes over the years.
The author is adopting the BEST model for prioritizing her needs and selecting appropriate activities, because it is in her view that this model is more appropriate to her case. Undertaking the MSc in HRM she gains more knowledge and skills in the field of HRM. She is enjoying doing the course and doing more of the things she love. On the other hand the course is quite a challenging one due to the nature of the course contents and the mode of study (i.e., full time) also the time constrain is a big factor. Thus, she is starching her self to balance the professional and personal life. However, her desire to think ahead and fulfill her ambitions allows her to face the challenges and demanding her to do more to get a deeper insight of the subjects.
Now, moving on to undertaking development activities, these should be in the form of professional work-based activities (e.g. work project and new task), courses & conferences (e.g. CIPD branch meetings), and self-directed informal learning (e.g. reading, action learning and reflective diary). In relation to this the author is engaged in professional work-based activities via work-placement, which allows her to use the theories into practices that she learned though formal lectures and further readings. Moreover her self-directed informal learning such as readings, allows her to use wider theoretical concepts into her assignments, exams, and practical activities. This allows optimizing her knowledge and skills, as well as achieving her goals with confidences.
Recording and evaluating outcomes - the process of writing helps us to distil experiences, recognize patterns and discern trends. It enables us to remember what has gone before and capture lessons for the future. It can also be kept for CIPD upgrading applications (Megginson & Whitaker, 2007). The author have included a portfolio of evidence of her own CPD plans and records which spans the period of her MSc in HRM taught programme. She was very pleased about her overall performance so far, but it is on her own view that she could have done even better in one or two subjects, however due to time constrain and other factors which are beyond her control made it difficult to perform on a highest level for those two subjects. Thus, for the future tasks, she will better manage the time and plan ahead early as possible, and she believes that will leads to the better outcome.
So far, the author's approach to formal educational CPD activities (MSc in HRM) explained generally with respect to CPD cycle. Now, she considers the CPD for specific modules within the MSc in HRM such as managing HR for results, Managing Human Resources in a Business Context and CPD in HRM, etc.
Managing HR for results, this module explores the practice of management, delivering change, enhancing customer relations, and enabling continuous improvement. The author studied this module as part of her MSc in HRM course and she is now able to analyse and critically assess the function of the manager and organisation based management structures alongside the role of human resource management within a range of organisational settings. This is proved by her confident performance on this modules assignment marks.
Managing Human Resources in a Business Context- this module explore the following areas: The competitive environment, the technological context, globalisation, demographic trends, social trends, government policy, regulation, developing strategy, and Social responsibility and ethics. After completing this module the author's able to demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of methods and models used in organisation and business analysis from the perspective of human resource management. This is evident from her high quality assignment outcome.
Managing & leading people, module provides an insight into leadership and high performance working practices and learning & development; module presents leadership developments and how learning & development is functioning in an organization (e.g. coaching, and e-learning).
Other modules such as employee rewards, concentrates on how is the annual pay review managed and application of PRP system; managing information for competitive advantage talks about change management approach to system; employment law provide an up-to date information about current legislations; people resourcing module taught the employee communications and how the people resourcing strategies managed. Thus, these modules provide insight knowledge of wider area of HRM.
Employee relations (ER) module allows for the author to demonstrate a theoretical and critical understanding of the actors, context, mechanisms, processes, and procedures that regulate and shape the employment relationship, including an appreciation of the contrasting perspectives and interpretations within employment relations. Furthermore, it allows her to demonstrate critical understanding and analytical awareness of how employment relations concepts, policies and practices are applied within organisations to contribute to the management of people and organisational performance. In addition, currently the author developing her HR skills in the area of ER through the work placement, so this will strengthen her ability through project management in a real life situation.
CPD in HRM module provide detailed practical guidance as well as a theoretical overview to the process of CPD within the context of MSc in HRM. It's allowing the author to critically appraise and evaluate a number of current best practice models of CPD through her own engagement in the CPD planning and recording process. The outcome of her performance of this module is not yet known, however she strongly believe she will achieve a good grade for this, since the effort and time she put on this module and for the assignment .
Within the context of CPD for the improvement of the author's future practices the following activities are recommended. Continuing training and work related educations are essential for all the time, throughout her career, which will provide the author, have a clear understanding, knowledge and skills for present HRM practices. This allows customer responsiveness can be properly addressed. This practice also gives an invaluable benefit for long-term development of her career.
Networking and improved communications with academic and industrial communities within the HRM field is greatly encouraged. This allows her to exchange ideas and other information for optimised performances for her self and the organisation.
In this essay critical evaluation of the author's approach to the formal educational learning CPD activity (i.e. the MSc in HRM) with reference to the various stages of engagement with the CPD cycle is presented. Within the context, the author's reflection on her own CPD from both a practical and a theoretical point of view are presented. Furthermore, the author's motivation, engagement and management activities related to the MSc in HRM scheme are described. Finally some recommendations are suggested for the author's future practice.