Well, what does CPD mean to me? The simple answer is that CPD is something I have to record as an accredited members of IfA - and I need to do at least 50 hours over every two-year period. Which isn’t actually that hard to do - the most difficult thing is actually remembering to update your diary every month or so! The more complicated answer is that is CPD is essential to what we do as professional archaeologists. We need to develop skills in order to move the profession onwards, to work more effectively with the rest of our team and to make a better contribution as an individual.
CPD can be approached in several ways – I have worked for several different employers over the years and it is often tied into the staff appraisal scheme to contribute to specific work. Understandably, and especially in a commercial organisation, this has to be done to justify the expenditure of time and resources. The problem with this approach is that it tends to narrow down your employers and colleagues view of what you can do. It can confine you to a particular role with no prospect for change or development. The consequence is that it is very easy to convince yourself that you are not valued and in consequence to become disengaged and demoralised.
So nowadays, my own approach to CPD is essentially an opportunistic one. It’s about making the best of whatever opportunities do present themselves and not necessarily relying on employers or colleagues to provide them. After all this is about your own professional development and where you want your career to go, not about the pigeonhole where some current and former colleagues think you should be placed.
How does this translate into practice? Well, glancing at my CPD log for 2012-13 I can add up nearly 90 hours (which came as a bit of a surprise). Some of this is work related - CSCS card training, attending a day school on laboratory safety and doing an illustrated talk as part of the York ‘Festival of Ideas’ (yes- in case you’re wondering, I don’t regard myself as a proficient public speaker and I’m trying to get more experience; it’s a standing item on my Personal Development Plan!). But much of what I have recorded is not strictly related to the day job, such as learning and practicing how to use watercolours in preparation for (my first ever) colour reconstruction drawing. Giving a talk to an archaeology society in Marlow. Going to the The Archaeology Forum event before the IfA AGM. Organising and attending sessions for IfA conferences. And indeed serving on IfA committees. I don’t think any of that would necessarily be thought of as directly related to my day job (though some does go down as CPD on my timesheet and I do get some work time in which to attend some of these activities). Much of it probably doesn’t qualify for inclusion in a staff appraisal but it is still CPD. CPD is something that keeps me interested in archaeology. What I get out of it is a degree of professional satisfaction. It reminds me there is more to a career than a job description and that there is more to the profession than a workplace.
So rather than just restricting your CPD to what might be required for your present job, take a wider and a longer term view. If the CPD required for your current job isn’t taking you where you want to go, find alternatives and be prepared to invest time and effort in something you want to do and which will repay your interest over time. Don’t treat your CPD as something which happens in the intervals between staff appraisals in the workplace. Don’t miss out on opportunities just because someone else thinks you can’t learn how to do something outside your job description. And lastly, remember there may also be times when you can help someone else out with their CPD. So if you can offer help or advice, then do so. Sometime, someone else may be able to do the same for you!