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In a world defined by rapid change and technological development, continuing professional development (CPD) is non-negotiable, according to Marius Meyer, senior lecturer in Human Resource Development at the University of Johannesburg.

The consequences of not doing CPD could be ‘disastrous”, he said. The call for CPD is based on the premise that if a professional does not keep on developing in his or her field, that professional may fall behind, and ‘may even cause damage to the profession”.

Participation in CPD is now required by all professional bodies, with some of them, such as the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), linking renewed registration to evidence of its members having acquired a requisite number of CPD points.

In order to retain their licence, healthcare practitioners are required by the Health Professions Council of South Africa to accumulate 30 continuing education units (CEUs) per 12-month period.

Random audits of individual members are conducted to ensure compliance. As a board member of the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP), which offers a structured CPD programme for human resources practitioners, Meyer said he believes a person should be able to change his or her CV ‘every month”.

He said CPD can take a number of forms, including short courses, informal learning, reading books and attending lectures and seminars.

‘Most learning takes place outside the classroom, in real situations,” said Meyer. ‘And that is exactly the opportunity CPD presents — to stay on the cutting edge of science, practice, technology and innovation.”

Mark Orpen, CEO of the Johannesburg-based Institute of People Development, an accredited provider of CPD, said recent trends suggest that in addition to being aimed at registered professionals seeking currency in their field and registration with professional bodies, CPD is increasingly aimed at ’emerging professionals”.

This is in order to refine current practice and develop best practice, while contributing to a wider body of knowledge and a community of specialist networks.

At universities, many of which offer CPD under accreditation agreements with registered professional associations, CPD falls into a broader framework known as continuing education (CE), a concept linked with lifelong learning, which was embraced by the post-1994 government as a framework within which to address decades of political, social and economic disadvantage.

According to University of the Western Cape lifelong learning specialist Freda Daniels, CE — defined as an opportunity to extend ‘personal, social and professional growth” — is a growing sector in South Africa. Most CE courses offered at UWC are on the recommended National Qualifications Framework level 5 (first-year tertiary level education) or higher and fall into the category of credit bearing, non-credit bearing and CPD.

According to the UWC website all courses are overseen by the Higher Education Quality Committee, which is the watchdog over the quality of teaching and learning at higher education institutions.

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