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Continuing Professional Development: iProfessionals

What is CPD?

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the way that individuals show their development as professionals over the course of their career. It is a term used across all sectors of business. A CPD scheme helps people identify their current skills and tracks their progression in terms of increased skills. Many professional bodies require their professionals to keep an annual record of their training to show that they have updated their skills in line with expectations in the industry.

Why is it important?

By using a CPD scheme, you can show yourself, your employer, further and higher education institutions, recruitment companies and prospective employers the skills you have acquired and at which level. This can affect the salary you expect to receive and/or the number of hours or modules you might need to complete a higher education or vocational training course.

What do I have to do?

It is hard in the interactive sector to demonstrate that you have improved your skills while working. It is not a sector that has strongly defined ways of working, a training culture or defined progression paths. Much of the time you have to learn on-the-job, becoming what we term iProfessionals. CPD is all about capturing the information about what you do to improve yourself—and we provide a template for you to do this on an annual basis.

Who recognises learning-on-the-job?

Luckily, the old way of defining improvement in skills solely by external qualifications or accreditation is being replaced by schemes that recognise work-based learning. There are many activities that happen naturally in the course of your work that affect your professional status—but you need to capture them. Only then will you be able to use them to demonstrate prior learning.

Where does my company fit in with CPD?

Increasingly, companies are introducing their own skills development schemes. They recognise that to make themselves more efficient and productive, they have to invest in their employee's skills. If they can influence you to develop skills that they need, they will be affecting your CPD and attaining a better skilled workforce in line with their business needs. They might institute annual appraisal schemes where you'll need to discuss your annual training needs with a manager. Later, you'll need to demonstrate that you have carried out the skills development—and that's where your CPD record could help. Your company might base their needs on a skills framework that is related to the interactive sector. Skills for the Information Age (SFIA), and the emerging Sector Skills framework are examples of these.

What use will this CPD record be?

Many further and higher education establishments have modular courses and if you can prove that you have done the equivalent of some of the modules, you may receive accredited prior learning (APL) recognition sometimes also referred to as APEL accredited prior experiential learning. This will reduce the work you have to do to achieve further qualifications. Fewer modules will also mean less cost. Large businesses follow CPD schemes and expect individuals to take responsibility for their own development. If you keep a personal development record, you will be demonstrating your self-worth and this will count across any career move with all those involved with human resources—from the recruiters to the interviewers.

Why bother?

You will be in a win-win situation. No one else will look out for you and your development in the way that you will yourself. You already improve yourself. This template will just help you record your effort in a way that will consolidate your improvements in the workplace. You'll be amazed at how much self-development you are doing without noticing. Take a look at the template categories to surprise yourself. Shouldn't it be recognised—even by yourself?

The CDP Record Templates

The personal record templates are provided in two formats: PDF and Excel. In both cases there is space to enter your name and other personal details and space for someone to 'sign-off' your activity.

The templates are provided for personal use and are not for distribution except within your company.

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Two versions

Dynamic/Excel version

This version uses some of the programmable features of Microsoft's Excel™ spreadsheet program. (These are integral Excel features, this file does not use Macros or Visual Basic.)

CDP Excel spreadsheet

Using drop-down menus you can select CDP activites in four categories and record what you did and when you did it. The four categories are:

  • Self-development Activities (Recognised by a trade body or equivalent)
  • Self-development Activities outside the Workplace
  • Self-development Activities in the Workplace
  • Self-development Activities outside Work

In some cases your CPD hours will be a percentage of your actual time spent on the activity (up to 100%) and in others you will receive a fixed time credit for the activity. The spreadsheet will automatically select what percentage and what fixed time is appropriate and will keep a running total for each category and for the total. Please note that due to a quirk of Excel, the drop-down is not indicated until you click to select it.

12 rows are initially provided for each kind of activity but you can extend this by adding empty rows and copying rows down. (The sheet is 'protected' to avoid accidental changes to the formulae so you will need to 'unprotect' the worksheet - from the Tools menu - before you can add rows. You should then protect the sheet again.)

It is best to start by saving a copy of the file so you have an empty copy for future use. Also, some systems may make Zipped files 'write-only' and saving a copy will avoid this restriction. You should resave the file to store your ongoing record and print out the final version so it can be signed and kept. You can use the form again as many times as you like but we suggest you keep a record on a year-by-year basis.

Printable/PDF version

This version is suitable for keeping a record by hand and should be printed out.

Part of the PDF template

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Getting the templates

To receive the templates just click on the link.

Skills are company assets

Whatever size company you are, whatever interactive sector you operate within—web, advertising, iTV, e-learning, mobile, games, museums, libraries, publishing, marketing, e-commerce etc—or whatever interactive service specialisms you might offer—search-engine optimisation, graphics, web design, web build, animation, databases, e-commerce, CRM, asset/content management, streaming, hosting, ISP, voice-over-IP, IPTV—just to mention a few, the skills of your employees are important and are part of the value of assets of your company. From the range of interactive activities just noted, you can get a feel of how complicated it is to try and decide the precise skills needed within a company. It is hard enough for an individual to define what he or she might need to progress a specialist interactive skill! So what can you do? We'll give you a kick-start with the process we describe and the schema template that's available for you to download free.

General and specialised skills

There are high level management skills that serve all companies and can be common across all sectors with the added value brought through direct experience with working in the specific field. The experience helps shape the general skill. Take financial management as a skill block, for example. All companies need financial skills to operate successfully but then if you are in e-commerce, financial skills for running a company and financial skills for working with e-commerce clients are both needed. The particular experience with the sector adds value to the general financial skills. Your company may well have 2 or more people to deal with the different parts or it might not. That's where only you can define the precise needs of your company according to the personnel you have, the skills they have and the skills gaps you find in the company that need filling in some way to enhance your efficiency. To take another example, software skills will vary across companies according to the interactive services they offer, so this is another area where the high level identification of a skill set needs to be tailored by you for your specific requirements.

Companies, skills and CPD

How does this relate to CPD? There are 2 parts to CPD to achieve the best value.

  • The company needs to define what will serve its needs best, and provide guidance/incentives to its employees to help them achieve their professional development in line with these needs.
  • The individual takes part in activities that lead towards professional development in line with what he/she agrees and with what the company wishes.

Either the company or the individual should keep a record of the development that can be verified, so that external appraisal and agreement of the development can take place if and when necessary. There are several parties that are interested in an individual's learning record. For example, recruitment agencies find them valuable for defining the skills to a potential new employer. Increasingly academics need these records to accredit prior learning for post-graduate or professional short courses. The records may save money by reducing the number of modules to take to achieve a formal qualification.

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) applies to each individual in your company, including yourself. It represents your professional self-development. The interactive sector changes so quickly that a person has to learn on the run. This is the nature of self-development in this volatile sector. People in the interactive industries do a lot of development but it does not fall into previously accepted categories such as formal training courses, university short courses, or employee appraisals. Increasingly in this jobbing rather than job-for-life information society, it falls to the individual to strive to keep abreast with developments in the specialist field. People learn on-the-job with various means - by tapping into colleagues – both real and virtual, for example. They solve problems as they come across a dilemma. They spend some of their own time getting to grips with a new piece of software etc.

Other initiatives in other sectors have moved to people keeping a learning record each year to show how they have met professional expectations. Doctors, dentists and lawyers, for example, have to demonstrate that they have taken part in a certain number of self-development hours over a year to keep their credentials current. (Note: we offer a free individual CPD interactive template resource to allow individuals to keep track of their CPD activities. See the first tabs in this section.)

The interactive sector has not had a strong record in training its people. Many companies are very small so that they do not require a dedicated human resources manager. If the company does have an HR resource, training and development is often one of the responsibilities and may kick-start initiatives for self-development. Slowly, companies in the interactive sector are taking initiatives to up-skill its people.

CPD has more value to a company if the individual up-skills in a way that serves both the individual and their company. A company has an obligation to meet the needs of its clients whether it is providing services or products. To do this, the right mix of people with the right set of skills need to operate together to achieve a brief. It is this balance between the skill needs of the company and the needs of the individual that forms the basis of a company CPD scheme. If the individual is operating alone for self-development, the company may or may not benefit to the best that is achievable.

Devising a CPD plan

So, how does a company devise a CPD plan?It needs to define what skills/knowledge it should have to function successfully and then assess what it has in place now. The difference between these shows the training gap that should be filled. Then the company can decide who should develop in which ways and discuss this with each individual to see where there is mutual agreement. Each needs to decide the best ways to move forward and the timescale in which the development should take place. This is a high level company training needs analysis.

The number of employees and the range of skills a company has varies. Only you can decide how many people can fulfil which roles within your company. As the need gets bigger, it might be time to consider having a dedicated resource rather than a temporary one, a skilled specialist rather than a talented multi-skilled person who will turn their hand to suit your particular interactive projects. For the specialist section that is left blank in the schema below, ask each of your top specialists or managers to define the skills that they need to fulfil their obligations. They can use the Strong, Average, Weak categories against the initials of their people in the same way as described below and see where there are any gaps in their particular interactive area. They can map out what is needed against what they have and help spot crucial gaps for the company. They will have the precise knowledge of the interactive facilities you offer and what is needed to achieve these for your particular clients or interactive sector. This will be invaluable for your company.

Interactive Media Company CPD Skills Schema Template—High Level Skills Analysis

The first part of the company CPD form

Look at the areas of activities in the form that represent your business. How well is your company performing in these? In the first column put S=Strong, A=Average, or W=Weak. In the second column put the initials of the person/people responsible for these activities. Add Sub under the initials for subcontractor, if you subcontract any of these activities. If there are gaps, you may need to consider how to cover these. If there are W's for weakness, you need to decide how to improve these areas. Use a similar approach for the A's for average. If you are strong in certain areas, how will you keep your strength in a fast-changing interactive sector? Consult your management colleagues and the people involved to help make your strategic decisions for company-wide development. You may decide you need new people. You may decide to have lunchtime seminars given by experienced people to cover some areas of knowledge. You may decide to take some trade magazines and encourage employees to read them to keep up-to-date. You may decide to build in some formal training courses or e-learning courses. There are many ways to help individuals improve so that your company improves. Look at the separate individual CPD template to see the range of activities that can help each reach his/her goals ranging from work-based activities to out of work activities.

The Training Needs Analysis chart has been made as open as possible for the interactive sector. It will probably not fit your company and its structure exactly so you need to adjust it to suit. It should prompt you to cover all the relevant areas though. The principles of identifying the needs across your company are valid and then you can decide how to take action to improve the skills needed in the way that will suit you best.

Good luck.

The CDP Company Record Template

The company record template is provided in Microsoft Word format. There is space to enter your company name at the top.

The template is provided for your own use and is not for distribution except within your company.

Tell a friend

If you find this useful then we'd be very happy if you give this link to a friend.

Getting the template

To download the template please click on the link.

Closeup of pen writing on paper

These templates are provided as a free service without any warranty.

By using a CPD scheme, you can show yourself, your employer, further and higher education institutions, recruitment companies and prospective employers the skills you have acquired and at which level.

You might also be interested in the iProfessionals blog.