Continuing Professional Development - what is it good for?

Careers Advice
16 September 2015 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

JacThe Safety and Reliability Society encourages its membership to complete continuing professional development (CPD) profiles through their mycareerpath® online tool. But in the current absence of compulsory sampling CPD to ensure competency, why should engineers complete CPD? In the regulated workplace of today, competency and continuing professional development have never been more important.

Central to maintaining high standards of best practice and transferring knowledge, is the identification of core competencies and the adherence of all industry and industry employees to them. This must involve not only processes that safety and reliability practitioners follow, but also personal standards and goal setting that are maintained across the life of employment by the practitioners themselves.

Professional development is a continuous process that applies throughout a practitioner’s working life and is essential to career planning. As industry knowledge, process and technology progress and are combined into competent ways of working, so must we. From the moment we enter the workplace, we are responsible for our own professional development and for making and taking opportunities that will move our skills forward in the workplace.


Rather than an examination process, where there are only one set of correct answers, professional development is a pathway that the individual is primarily responsible for planning and taking themselves. While the initial plan for professional development (IPD) must originate with the individual practitioner based on their aspirations, different ways of engaging with competency and CPD are offered to help the individual understand what core competencies are, how to achieve them at a professional standard level, and how to keep them current. These include:

  • An individual professional development plan such as mycareerpath®
  • Educational Competency – completion of courses and qualifications
  • Professional Body Core Competencies and Criteria for Membership – membership of a professional body such as the Safety and Reliability Society complies by set levels of competency agreed across industry professionals
  • Industry Competency Management - working with industry competency standards within the workplace

The measurement of competency and professional development, as described above, relies heavily on the co-operation of the individual, industry, professional bodies and education to provide a regulated structure with recognised levels of achievement. The mycareerpath® tool is simple to use to bring all these career aspects together and provides set profiles for users to record their development, using prompts from profiles.

Why do it? Motivation and inspiration

But what motivates individuals to plan and maintain their CPD and how is motivation and other intangible aspects of development captured in the measurement of CPD?


The motivation to record personal development and to be competent comes for a wide variation of sources. Unless a certain standard of achievement to practice is necessary and recording and submission of CPD is compulsory, the recording of professional development is optional and requires personal motivation.

Motivation can come from any number of career related sources sources such as desire to succeed, personal career expectation or employer expectations, but also from personal qualities such as integrity, observation of ethics and concern for the safety of others. So the practice of carrying out competency and CPD fall into two categories: daily motivation to strive for excellence in everyday practice and long term motivation and foresight for recording and standardisation of achievement levels. Somewhere between this lies inspiration.


Inspiration could be described as personal motivation expanded outward into the world. In career planning and identifying competencies as we desire to achieve and maintain, we look to other people who have already achieved much in our own and other fields - people who inspire us to continue with our professional development in order to achieve our goal. Membership of a professional organisation such as the Safety and Reliability Society whose members include a wide range of cross-industry experts, provide inspiration and motivation for successful career planning and achievement of competencies and, consequently, best practice. 

More information about membership of the Safety Reliability Society and their industry schemes to promote CPD and best practice can be found on their website at or by emailing or calling 0161 393 8411

Dr Jacqueline Christodoulou MBE CPsychol CSci AFBPsS Chief Executive Officer, Safety and Reliability Society

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