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Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. It enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. CPD or continuing professional education (CPE) is continuing education to maintain knowledge and skills.

CPD combines different methodologies to learning, such as training workshops, conferences and events, e-learning programmes, best practice techniques and ideas sharing.  These are all focused for an individual to improve and have effective professional development. There are over 1,000 institutes and professional bodies across the UK and this is forecasted to increase.

Most professions have CPD obligations. For example, medical and legal professions which are subject to continuing medical education or continuing legal education requirements which vary by jurisdiction.

CPD is the holistic commitment of professionals towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers. It is essential in helping individuals, organisations or entire industries to keep skills and knowledge up to date.

Types of CPD learning vary depending on the requirements for your business, or if you are learning as an individual.

Structured CPD or active learning involves interactive and participation-based study. It is typically proactive and can include attending or undertaking any of the following:


  • Training course
  • Conference
  • Workshop
  • Seminar
  • Lecture
  • CPD-certified event
  • Online and e-learning courses
  • Other structured forms of learning

CPD active learning is also when professionals take career-orientated exams and assessments (the study and revision would be considered self-directed learning, see self-directed CPD).

Accredited CPD training means the learning activity has attained the required continuing professional development standards and benchmarks, and the learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality.

CPD is essential in helping individuals, organisations or entire industries to keep skills and knowledge up-to-date. Providing CPD enables organisations to become a knowledge bank to key stakeholders of an organisation. CPD accredited training courses, workshops and events allow professionals to use the learning time towards individual CPD requirements.

An individual must keep a track of their annual CPD activities on a CPD record form and must ensure it is correct, up-to-date and meets the requirements of their professional body or association.

The CPD activity is recorded in terms of learning outcomes and practical application of the knowledge obtained.

We can provide guidance to individuals as to how many CPD hours or points are achievable from the completion of any CPD activity we have certified, such as a conference, training course or seminar. This will help any individual delegate record the correct or most appropriate level of CPD hours for their professional body.

Continuing Professional Development undertaken is recorded by a CPD certificate of attendance, CPD self-assessment forms and personal CPD record cards.  Once a CPD certified activity has been delivered, the attendee can update their CPD record sheet and attach the associated certificate.

It is not necessary for the accredited CPD provider to keep an ongoing learning record for each of their delegates.  However, it is advisable to provide at least a certificate of participation to individuals once an activity has been completed.

Most industries are involved in CPD training.  You will need to understand the continuing professional development requirements for your organisation or industry to understand what their CPD requirements are (e.g. how CPD training and learning should be recorded and what number of hours are required).

Most professional bodies require at least 50% of CPD to be completed in a structured format.  The differences between the two are the following:

Structured CPD:

  • is considered a formal learning environment which typically includes training courses, online e-learning programmes, workshops and seminars that have been accredited and conform to CPD guidelines and standards.
  • consists of two-way interactions between trainer and delegates and follows a methodical approach to learning that can be delivered consistently time and time again.
  • will often contain case studies and examples within the training as well as Q&A, breakout discussion groups and possible assessments to ensure that key learning has been embedded.

When a delegate has completed structured CPD training they will in most instances be provided with a CPD certificate of attendance/completion which can be used as part of the individual’s personal CPD record for submission at their professional body, where relevant.

Self-directed CPD:

is considered more informal and is often one-way directional learning that does not necessarily follow a consistent and methodical approach to knowledge sharing.

  • can be quite broad in terms of the activities completed and can include:
  • reading news articles, blogs or books
  • general industry study and research
  • watching relevant educational videos
  • informal discussion groups
  • reflective analysis

Once self-directed learning is completed, individuals must elaborate further on their personal CPD record as to what new knowledge has been obtained, what will be put into practice and how long in duration the self-directed learning has taken.

Self-directed CPD must be relevant to individual career aspirations and any fundamental obligations set out by their professional body.

Improving skills and knowledge through continuing professional development is the responsibility of every professional across all industries.

When completing CPD, it is important for an individual to:

  • keep a record of the training completed each year
  • record what learning objectives have been met
  • note what skills will be put into practice to improve and increase proficiency

The training record is kept by an individual.

The training record that is kept by an individual is typically called a CPD portfolio.  A CPD portfolio helps the learner to keep a track of their progression from year to year.

It is an individual’s evidential documentation of their continuing professional development obligations for their professional body or association.

Contained within a CPD portfolio would be the register of activities such as training courses, workshops and educational events attended, as well as a copy of the delegate CPD certificates for each activity. These act as validation that the learning has been completed.

Professional bodies review their members’ CPD portfolio to ensure they are meeting their annual continuing professional development requirements.

A CPD portfolio should demonstrate a range of different methods of learning and the different impacts on future capability.

With the increasing number of professional bodies in the UK and their varying annual requirements of continuing professional development, a natural split in common language terms and expression will arise.

Different professional bodies use the terms ‘CPD points’, ‘CPD units’ or ‘CPD credits’ diversely depending on preference. Across all industries CPD points, units and credits all relate to the same thing, CPD hours.

A CPD hour is the time that an individual spends in “active learning”.

Active learning defines the actual time spent learning something relevant for their continuing professional development objectives.

An example of this would be:

A 1-day accredited CPD training course.  If the training starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm with a 1-hour break for lunch, the CPD hours would be 7 CPD hours.

95% of all professional bodies use CPD hours as their CPD measure and that where the terms CPD points, units or credits are used, these are in a typical 1:1 ratio with CPD hours. By this, it is meant that typically 1 CPD point equals 1 CPD hour.

Online CPD is becoming one of the most popular alternatives to traditional learning methods. Working professionals with limited available time have found many benefits to the flexibility provided by online CPD.

Advantages of online CPD learning courses for the provider are:

  • They are low cost
  • Course materials (such as textbooks and handouts) can be made available online
  • Online CPD courses can be delivered more than once
  • Many of the elements of online CPD courses can be automated to streamline the process and reduce time wastage
  • Wider reach

Advantages of online CPD learning courses for the learner are:

  • They are a more affordable option than traditional learning methods
  • They do not involve any commuting costs for delegates (or trainer)
  • They can study in a more comfortable learning environment
  • Many of the stresses around learning are removed
  • Online courses enable more introvert individuals to participate in class discussions more comfortably than in face-to-face class sessions
  • Improved concentration as there are fewer distractions
  • It is flexible and convenient
  • Learners can study at a personal optimum time
  • Work and family commitments can be balanced
  • Built-in evaluation techniques and feedback loops
  • Learners (and providers) can see the results of tests, grades and certificates of learning immediately

As a provider offering CPD certified courses, you are helping professionals to enhance their personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers.

Providing CPD accredited learning benefits your organisation through:

  • recognition and increased brand perception
  • enabling you to meet the right target audience
  • the ability to present knowledge as industry experts
  • providing structured accredited CPD to delegates
  • distinguishing you from competitors
  • increasing delegate bookings for your courses and events
  • the creation of new alliances and business opportunities
  • encouraging and promoting a healthy learning culture for your organisation, leading to a more fulfilled workforce and the ability to retain valuable staff

Many organisations have staff with CPD obligations as members of professional bodies. In circumstances where internal CPD training resources are low, organisations can use outsourced CPD training providers to meet staff requirements.

Outsourced CPD providers are typically training companies, online learning resources, events and conference organisers.  They are experts in their field and provide practical learning opportunities through CPD events, seminars and accredited CPD courses.

Some CPD courses are 1-2 hours long and can be delivered in a seminar or classroom-style environment. Other accredited CPD courses can be a full 6-10 weeks programme, split into structured bite-size modules.

Professionals from any industry, sector, career level, job role or responsibilities can undertake CPD.  In fact, there is an increasing expectation for them to do so.

The CPDQS can help you to formalise your knowledge into a structured and recognised approach to meet the expectations of professionals. As such, we can ensure that your CPD materials are formally certified and therefore more likely to become accepted and welcomed by your audiences.

Organisations wishing to adopt CPD practices can display their commitment through membership of CPDQS.

We work with organisations ranging from small consultancy firms to large training providers, multi-national corporations, conference and event organisers, universities, further education colleges, local authorities, councils and government departments.

We have a range of packages at a yearly cost of:

£385 – Up to 5 learning activities

£1035 – Up to 15 learning activities

£1845 – Up to 30 learning activities

£3795 – Up to 100 learning activities

Please see our website ( for more information on what the packages include.

There are four steps, as follows:

STEP 1 – Complete our application form and submit this with your payment

STEP 2 – Receive membership approval within 24 hours

STEP 3 – Send us your learning activities material and event-related literature

STEP 4 – If your learning activities and event-related literature meet our standards, you will receive confirmation as a fully approved and accredited training provider within three working days

Further information is available at the following link:

You can expect to receive the following:

  • Free learning activities page redirect link
  • Your own branded learning management system
  • Free job portal listing
  • Free quality improvement workshops
  • Free monthly live webinar by industry experts
  • Certificates – PDF, £2 each; hard copy, £5 each, sent by first-class post
  • Live chat support
  • Professional CV review for your learners

And, generally, we:

  • review and advise on organisational CPD requirements
  • accredit courses and events
  • licence you to use our CPD member logo on company marketing materials
  • licence you to use our CPD certified symbol on approved CPD course materials
  • give you a presence in CPD member directory for user validation and searching
  • administrate delegate CPD certificates post activity

We can be reached via email at  Or, to speak to us over the phone, you are welcome to contact our offices on 020 3880 7215.