CPD research

APM was proud to partner with the CPD Research Project to investigate project professionals as well as those working in other professions, about their experiences of CPD. The main findings of this research are:

  • Everyone does CPD, mostly as part of their job (e.g. searching the internet for information, learning from formal and informal team discussions, and attending conferences and seminars). But often many of these activities are not recognised as CPD.
  • The overwhelming majority engage in CPD because they think it helps them to do their jobs better. A smaller number also think that CPD can advance their careers. 65% of project managers, for example, were so convinced of the benefits that they had paid for some CPD out of their own pockets.
  • Individuals who are more heavily engaged in CPD tend to be more committed to their work and to be ‘good citizens’ in the workplace (i.e. to go the extra mile for their colleagues and the organisation). Might CPD be good for the employer, as well as for the individual? Despite this possibility, there is a widespread view that employers do not provide enough time and financial support for CPD.
  • Some respondents have had very positive experiences of CPD – for example:

“The do-reflect-improve approach proved what I did know, highlighted weaknesses and filled the gap.”

“Learning outside the organisation allows time to reflect on what you are doing and your role.”

  • But there are also many negative experiences:

“All I hear about CPD is rather woolly.”

“It becomes a case of trying to justify a CPD activity in order to be able to tick a box and allocate hours.”

“CPD is not rigorous and tested to ensure good learning.”

Many respondents described poor training courses.

  • CPD works best for individuals when it is:
    • Relevant – “the best experiences are those that enable you…to use CPD at work to immediately improve on performance.”
    • Collaborative i.e. done with other people – “presenting my work to colleagues produced positive feedback and lively debate on my findings.”
    • Recognised – “the trouble with CPD is that you have to do it, you do it on your own and it’s not recognised.”
    • Personal – “CPD works best if it is led by the individual.”
  • CPD has a poor reputation for rigor and value, it remains too biased towards technical rather than soft skills, many people equate it too closely with ‘going on a course’ and linkages are insufficiently strong between those with a stake in CPD (institutes, employers, CPD providers and individuals).

Yet if CPD is done well, it has substantial potential to improve performance, increase innovation and enhance the quality of working life.

Positive experiences of CPD

“Undertaking collaborative CPD activities with a colleague. I have done this in a number of contexts, including activities to enhance my own competence and professional practice e.g. familiarisation with new testing instruments, and developing methodologies/interventions to enhance the skills and practices of our professional teams. I find that working together gives valuable additional scope for shared, as well as personal, reflection.”

“The best experiences have always been demanding work assignments which have involved doing something ground breaking: this would have required extensive study of what was already known about the topic followed by the implementation of innovative practice.”

“The success of training events I have attended in the past varies greatly 10/10 to significantly lower! The positive experiences are generally in relation to events where the speaker(s) had prepared well and the material was well focused.”

“ ‘Good’ CPD are events or materials that will fire my imagination about a subject. Much management theory is quite dull when taken in isolation, so it needs relating to real life or projects to make it interesting. Presenters that can make a subject come to life with the passion for the subject are worth listening to, and will keep me engaged.”

“One example was a recent PRINCE2 training. It was a positive experience because of the increased insight I got in the roles of a project and more efficient and effective ways of structuring it.”

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