How CPD can help you stand out from the crowd, and the importance of fixing your learning in a career-long framework.
Continuing professional development (CPD) allows IOSH members to maintain and build their skills, knowledge and expertise to become more rounded and valued safety and health professionals who can meet the changing demands of work.
This process of continual learning is underpinned by the regular practice of assessing your current skill-set, planning your professional future, and identifying and undertaking the actions needed to plug any gaps and move forward. You must then log what you’ve done and what you’ve learned clearly and comprehensively.
What counts as CPD?
CPD is not just about formal or accredited training courses. Tony Hayward CFIOSH, CPD compliance auditor at IOSH, defines it as ‘anything meaningful to and of value to you as an individual in relation to your profession’.
‘It could be something as simple as reading IOSH magazine,’ he adds. ‘As long as the article you read has a learning outcome – so as a result of that article you’ve gone back to the workplace and done something differently. Or it might be a course or a webinar – the important thing when you’re recording it on your CPD log is to identify what you got out of it.’
CPD can go beyond workplace requirements, as Tony points out: ‘It could be problem-solving, interview techniques – things you might not necessarily have thought of – but transferable management skills are as relevant to your job role as the two-day course in ISO 45001.’
How does CPD work?
Learning needs to be positioned within a framework of career and personal development, arrived at through a process of self-assessment and reflection.
‘The biggest step is your development plan and diary,’ explains Tony. ‘That’s where you write out where you are, where you want to get to and in what timeframe, along with the building blocks to enable you to get there.’
The right plan is ‘critical’, says Gill Phillips GradIOSH, an NVQ assessor. ‘It works much like ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ – you assess and plan how you’re going to do it, then you go back periodically to see what you’ve achieved, what you haven’t, and how you’re going to achieve that.’
Keeping your hand in
CPD is fundamental not only to career progression but also maintaining professional status: the IOSH CPD programme is obligatory for all Chartered Fellows, Chartered Members, Graduate and Technical Members.
‘CPD is an integral part of the IOSH code of conduct,’ explains Tony. ‘As an IOSH member, particularly at Chartered level, you are the “best in class”, achieving the highest possible professional standards – and you must be willing and able to prove it.’
Keeping up with CPD is worthwhile even when you don’t have plans to forward an OSH career, explains Richard Tevlin TechIOSH, a pharmacovigilance associate at Theradex Oncology.
‘I spent a couple of years as a health and safety rep in a previous job, completing the relevant training. I have continued to keep myself up to date and increase my knowledge in some areas, using IOSH webinars and IOSH magazine. I have brought that knowledge into my role and contribute to the health and safety of the company – I’m involved with completing the company’s fire risk assessment, and where we have had people visiting hospitals, I’ve researched the correct PPE items for them to wear.’
Stretch yourself: Compete in your career
Amanda Rosewarne, CEO and co-founder, the CPD Standards Office
As we emerge from lockdown, it has never been more important to undertake formal life-long learning. Our workforce needs sharp and agile thinkers, as well as updated skill-sets to face the undoubted challenges ahead.
Over the past decade, the CPD Standards Research Project has consistently found that regular engagement in CPD is linked to higher salaries and – when detailed on a CV – candidates are 40% more likely to be offered an interview. CPD also means higher job satisfaction and greater confidence in the workplace.
Your employer will thank you too: professional learning ensures the educational advancement of our workforce, preventing brain drain and enabling businesses to compete effectively on the global stage.
While every professional’s record is unique, there are ways to get it right, and mistakes to be avoided, as Tony identifies: ‘The mistake people continually make is to talk about corporation or common objectives, rather than their own learning and their specific involvement.’
Being too simplistic or too detailed is also problematic, adds Tony. ‘It needs to be clear and concise and understandable.’
‘Record the facts of your course attendance, but then go on with: “From this I learnt the following…” List the learning outcomes, and what you have done as a result: emailed a client with a new recommendation, suggested a change of approach – so you’ve told the whole story.’
Saif Al-Shadfan GradIOSH, based in Qatar, says: ‘The vital reason to maintain a CPD record is that it will create the impetus towards new learning experiences; if I didn’t update my CPD for a period of time I would feel I was not progressing – it gives that push to move and do something.’
How often should you update?
Do so regularly, says Tony: ‘Perhaps once a month – that regular reflection can bring to mind things that you might not otherwise have recognised. ‘It needs to become second nature.’
IOSH’s competency framework highlights the areas of competency OSH professionals need to keep pace with rapid change in the workplace. It sits alongside a wealth of IOSH CPD courses on offer.
With so many professional and personal benefits to be gained, keeping up with CPD is a must-do, says Gill: ‘Those who don’t invest enough time in it are missing out on getting the best out of themselves and out of their jobs.’
Top tips: CPD success
- Whatever you’re doing, make a note somewhere so you don’t forget the details and it’s easy to record in your CPD record later. Tony Hayward
- Review your short-, medium- and long-term goals regularly so that you can reflect and change course where you need to. Gill Phillips
- Look out for learning points during any CPD activity and make a note so you can easily recall any new insights and additional knowledge specific to your experience when you update your record. Richard Tevlin
- I began my journey attending training and learning sessions, and the IOSH CPD record is the best tool to maintain an accessible record, and an easy verifying method. Saif al-Shadfan