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What is CPD?

Last updated on 30th March 2023

CPD, meaning continued professional development, is a means of improving your knowledge at work. Our education doesn’t stop when we leave school, college, or university; CPD is the education you get for your chosen career.

Nearly £900 million was spent on professional education and training in the UK last year. It’s a growing industry, with many professional bodies and regulators expecting you to have regular training on industry specific subjects.

Even if you’re not expected to undertake CPD for your role, i.e. there are no requirements that you take certain courses for your job, it’s still important to consider. To be able to progress in your career, taking extra training will increase your skills base and employability.

Taking CPD courses adds value to the business you work for and to your CV. To give you a better understanding of what CPD is, we’re going to look at:

  • What CPD stands for, both the initials and the concept
  • The benefits of CPD to you and your employer
  • The importance of CPD to your career progression
  • How and where you can complete CPD training
Seminar for CPD development

What does CPD stand for?

CPD stands for continued professional development. That’s the simple answer to the question, but we should explore the broader questions of “what is CPD?” and “why is CPD important to me?”.

CPD as a concept stands for your commitment to your work and your career. It stands for the investment that you make in yourself. CPD is about the value you place on getting further in your job and earning recognition and promotion.

From seminars, webinars, online training, and classroom courses, CPD can take many forms. CPD is a form of training of key skills and knowledge for your work. It can be practical skills, such as a food hygiene course, or a theoretical refresh of information important to your role like a safeguarding course.

Sometimes your job role relies on you taking part in professional training and development. Other times it demonstrates to your current and future employers that you take your skills and your work seriously. You could be more likely to get a promotion or get hired for a better-paying job.

What are the benefits of CPD?

CPD gives you more knowledge and skills related to your job. It also means your employer can have confidence in your ability to complete your role effectively. You will also feel more confident in your role having completed CPD courses; you’ll be set up with information about the regulations and standards you need to know.

There are many industries that require workers to be CPD certified. What is CPD certified? It means that you’ve completed an accredited CPD training course and you’re competent in the topic you’re certified in.

Lots of industries require you to be CPD certified. A common example is the food industry. Every level of the food handling industry needs to have appropriate training and supervision. Whatever stage of the food industry, whether it be:

  • Direct from the farm
  • In processing and packing factories
  • Catering companies
  • The hospitality industry
  • Home cooking and baking

Furthermore, any business that works in food retail or catering should be giving you, its employee, training on allergens. The potential to harm someone is great if a food preparation area is contaminated with food that can invoke strong allergic reactions, so the government requires specific training on the matter.

In a similar vein, people who work with children need to be CPD certified. Under the Education Act 2002, everyone who comes into contact with children under 18 through their work must receive safeguarding training, up to level two. If your role designates you as the organisation’s safeguarding lead, you have to undergo level three safeguarding training.

The benefit to taking safeguarding training lies very much with the children you will be working with. When you have received CPD training about safeguarding you’ll be able to understand signs of abuse or neglect and know your responsibilities in such situations.

In light of this, one of the major benefits of CPD training is meeting legal requirements. Your employer will be ordered to get training in place or even possibly get shut down if the requirements for CPD certified staff aren’t met.

First Aid Training

Benefits of CPD for you as an employee

We all want to be the best we can be at our job. Continuing your professional development throughout your life will keep you current on changing issues, legislation, and guidelines. This is extremely important when you work in highly regulated industries such as:

  • Childcare and education
  • Food preparation
  • Mental health
  • Legal
  • Finance

Along with many more. Your employer should know what training is a legal requirement and others that you can benefit from depending on your role and your sector.

There are plenty of positive reasons you should complete CPD courses and training activities regularly, such as:

  • Maintaining your legal obligations in some roles like food preparation and education
  • Keeping up to date with developments in your profession
  • Ensuring you are as effective as possible in your role
  • Fulfilling the requirements for membership of some professional bodies, e.g. Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors or the Law Society of Scotland
  • Being a better worker on your team by being able to offer professional insight
  • Demonstrating your increased skills could lead to a pay rise and promotion
  • Applying for jobs is easier when you have CPD certificates that other candidates don’t have
  • Giving you a sense of achievement and goals that you can work towards

The myriad of benefits speak for themselves. Good employers are aware of the great things that come from offering CPD training and are likely to help cover some or all of the costs involved. Even if not, there are clear returns on investment to be had.

Benefits of CPD to an employer

A LinkedIn report in 2018 showed that 94% of employees would stay with their current employer longer if there was more investment in training. To keep staff engaged and in the business at such a high rate is a compelling argument for offering CPD to staff.

Your employer spends a lot of money taking on you and your colleagues, whatever the industry you’re in. Conservative estimates say that it’ll cost your employer, on average, around £3,000 to hire a new member of staff. That money can be better spent offering CPD and personal development for you instead.

Your employer is likely to already know the benefits of investing in having you and your colleagues CPD certified in a range of skills. Those benefits include:

  • A better, more effective workforce with up-to-date knowledge and skills
  • A more engaged and happier team that feels rewarded for their work
  • Lower staff turnover as the team feels more committed to the job
  • Better employee retention because they feel invested in
  • Meeting legal and regulatory requirements in certain fields
  • A modern, skilled group of employees who can drive the business to success

You can refer to this list of benefits if you want to approach your employer to ask them to send you on a CPD training course, too.

Why is CPD training important?

The most important element of CPD training is that it keeps your knowledge and skills relevant. Laws change, rules get updated, the science of some subjects advances. As a professional committed to doing the best job you can, it’s important that you stay up to date.

It’s also important so that you can trust your colleagues. Knowing that everyone on your team is aware of your sector’s best practices will give you confidence that mistakes are unlikely and everyone is as skilled as you are.

Being able to demonstrate your competencies when an inspector or regulator comes to your workplace is very important. Having a CPD certificate will prove you’ve kept up with your legal obligations.

Online CPD training

How can I undertake my CPD training?

“What is a CPD course?” is a common question – if someone’s new to the workforce it may be a completely new concept. Put simply, a CPD course is a form of training that will educate you on issues, laws, and important information to do with your job.

Training comes in a range of formats. Some of your options for CPD courses include:

  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Classroom training
  • Webinars
  • Conference calls
  • Online workshops
  • Computer-based training

Or a mix of some or all of them, depending on the type of skills being trained.

Looking at the list, you’ll notice that the first three are face-to-face training options, whilst the last four are online CPD course options. Each type of training delivery has its advantages and disadvantages; it’s up to you and your employer to choose which will work best for you.

Face-to-face training


  • Questions, queries, and confusion can be cleared up almost instantly
  • Group work and role plays can be easily facilitated
  • Encourages networking between local peers
  • Builds soft skills such as collaboration and leadership


  • People can feel uncomfortable in a classroom setting
  • Costs associated with face-to-face training are high
  • Courses may not be available when you need them
  • There’s time and commuting costs involved

Online training


  • Cost effective with no room hire or real-time instructor needed
  • Can be undertaken at a time that works for you – great for shift workers
  • Course participants can work at their own pace without peer pressure
  • More accessible with better options for people with hearing impairment or mobility difficulties, for example
  • Opportunity to network outside of immediate geographic area


  • Can take time to get responses from course instructors if it’s not delivered in real time
  • Not able to deliver practical training, such as first aid courses
  • Requires participants to be comfortable working with computers


Wherever possible, you should take opportunities for CPD, meaning that when you employer offers it or you have a personal budget for it, you should take a training course. You will only become a better employee, colleague, and teammate – there isn’t a downside to CPD training.

CPD shows you stand for self-development. Your current and future employers will respect that you take time to invest in yourself or have sought support from your employer to achieve more in your job.

Some roles, such as food handling and working with children, have requirements to undergo training. Being CPD certified in these fields is important, and there is still great value in additional training even when it isn’t a requirement.

Course delivery can be flexible, both in its format and how it is delivered. Face-to-face and online training are both options. The one that will be best in your circumstances depends on what you want to learn, your budget, and your learning style.

About the author

Joanne Rushton

Joanne began her career in customer services in a UK bank before moving to South East Asia to discover the world. After time in Malaysia and Australia, she settled in Hanoi, Vietnam to become an English teacher. She's now a full-time writer covering, travel, education, and technology.

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