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What is continued professional development and why is it a good thing?

Graduation from university with an Earth science degree represented a major learning milestone that enabled you to begin your geoscience career.  It also represented the start of the next phase in your professional, technical and personal development through continuing development as a professional.

Continuing professional development, or CPD, is work-related learning that should continue throughout your career.  The year in which new professionals enter the workforce is usually a period of intense, on the job learning in a diverse range of areas such as field and mapping skills, sampling, core logging, managing contractors, landowner liaison and mining title management, to name but a few.  University studies provide an essential and solid grounding in geological principles, Earth systems, scientific method and research skills, which must be supplemented by a broad spectrum of new skills that are based on elements of these fields and represent workplace essentials.

In many professions, CPD forms an integral part of a licence to practice.  More professions require a managed and verifiable commitment to CPD than not.  The dominant reason for this this is the perception of public risk associated with practice of the profession in question.  Medical professionals, for example, may be called on to make decisions that could affect someone’s life.  Engineers design and build structures and machines that could create public safety risks or have profound economic consequence if they fail.  Teachers shape the character and skills of young people who will be the backbone of our society in future years.

Geoscientists have the privilege of being self-regulating.  There is no universal requirement for professional registration and licencing of geoscientists in Australia.  This does not, however, diminish the need for, and value of CPD.  It remains one of the key mechanisms by which high standards of professional practice and the relevance and currency of qualifications and experience are maintained.

CPD is frequently described as an investment for both individuals and employers as it involves maintaining enhancing and extending your knowledge expertise and competence.  It is central to the definition of professionalism recognised by the general public, where professionals strive to become leaders, knowledgeable, sources of advice and able to reliably solve problems in their chosen fields, which sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

Formal CPD falls into three broad categories:

  1. formal CPD;
  2. informal work-related CPD; and
  3. activities external to your work that contribute to your CPD.

CPD requires an investment of time, but the cost of CPD does not need to be onerous due to the range of activities that fall into the three categories above.

Join a discussion of CPD and professionalism on the AIG Linkedin Group.

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