I’ve been self-employed for twelve years, and for me, the CIfA CPD scheme is really helpful. In a sense I’ve been lucky, as the emphasis on CPD has developed in the profession much more since I stopped being an employee, and this gives much more clarity in understanding what it is about. When employed, it can be difficult to work out the difference between different kinds of training and development, as there is often some overlap between the training/development I want to do; the training/development my employer wants me to do, and the training my employer has to give me, e.g. Health and Safety. As an employee, it is also easy to fall into the trap of seeing CPD only as formal training. Please see diagrams
I find the CIfA scheme liberating, but it also provides a useful structure for thinking about how to develop myself professionally in a work context. I can decide what to put in my PDP, and I can decide what CPD activities will be useful and/or enjoyable for me. The scheme is not prescriptive about what counts as CPD, so as long as it fits in with my PDP, a TV programme could be relevant. Having started CPD as a self-employed archaeologist, if I were to return to the world of employment I would find it easy to continue my own CPD alongside any work-based scheme that might be in place.
The work I am involved in is unpredictable – I’m not a specialist in one particular aspect of archaeology, nor do I work in development-led archaeology. I’ve therefore made my PDP objectives quite broad, so they remain relevant over a period of time, e.g. the work objective ‘Update myself as required for specific projects which I undertake’. CPD activities that have been relevant to this over the last couple of years have included ‘Researching museum and archives issues in Wales relating to Welsh Archives project’, ‘Attended CIfA NVQ Internal Verifier/Assessors Standardisation meeting in Reading’, ‘Attended Association for Environmental Archaeology conference in Plymouth’. The first of these consisted of internet research and reading; the second was a meeting, and the third a formal conference. So the first cost nothing, the second cost the price of a tax-deductible business-related train fare, and the third was costed in to the project to which it was relevant.
Because I work for myself in a very small niche in the profession, I don’t have a ready-made network of workplace colleagues, or peers in a specialist group. So I have included a professional objective to ‘Maintain and increase my network of professional contacts’. This is great, as it allows me to include time at conferences and meetings when I’m ‘networking’ (catching up with colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, maybe even in a pub). I try to be fair about the time allocated to this CPD activity – it would not be reasonable for this to overwhelm other objectives!
I have included a work objective to ‘Keep up to date with IT as required for maintaining my consultancy and as necessary for specific projects’. This is particularly helpful in my self-employed situation. When I was an employee it was easier to learn new IT from colleagues or through formal in-house or external training courses, and time was allowed for it. Now it is something I generally work out myself, but I can include this as CPD.
Like most or maybe all of us, I am not very rigorous about keeping my CPD log up to date, although as an archaeology NVQ assessor I am required to submit a CPD log every year. However, it doesn’t take too much time to think back and remember what happened when, so with the structure in place, it really is not too much of a burden, and the hours seem to add up easily to more than the minimum requirement.
So far, I have not approached anyone to be my CPD mentor. However, reflecting on my CPD for this article makes me think that this would probably be a good idea, so I will be talking to someone very soon. Hopefully we will be able to make a mutual agreement to act as CPD mentors for each other, as we are both self-employed.