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Professional Assistants, take a more informal approach to CPD!


Adam Fidler, Founder of Adam Fidler Academy, the UK’s leading provider of education to professional assistants, looks at a more informal approach to CPD and how to include it in your career  journey.

The Adam Fidler Academy is constantly being asked by our clients requesting an in-house training session to remind EAs and PAs about the importance of CPD. Whether you call it continuous professional development or continuing professional development (I refer to the former), it really is crucial that we dispel the myth that CPD must only be formal learning.

Many EAs that I interact with seem to get hung up about CPD, and I see the frustration on their faces when the word is mentioned. To many, it conjures up an image of formal learning, perhaps in a classroom, or on computer, that might consume hours of time and a lot of energy and has to be squashed into an already-busy working day. However, that isn’t the case.

What’s an informal approach to CPD?

CPD, in reality, can be any form of learning or building knowledge. It’s generally about learning something new; about the acquisition of new skills, new knowledge and even new behaviours. But, CPD can be achieved not only through formal methods of learning by attending a training course, but also informally.

Think of all the things you might be doing already that are CPD.  For instance: reading about your company, to build your industry knowledge; attending a briefing at work to understand the company’s strategy; reading an article at lunch-time (for instance in PA Life Magazine); speaking to your boss about their views on a certain topic; being mentored by someone; or even leading a team meeting.

The more you get into thinking of CPD less formally, then less daunting it becomes. And that means that when you have your appraisal, you will have scores of examples of self-managed CPD to evidence your appetite for learning.

Being a reflective practitioner of CPD

In many ways, it would help to think of yourself as what we call a reflective practitioner and that simply means that you try new things, implement new ideas at work, and then reflect on you’ve learned from the experience”

CPD is now a crucial characteristic of high-performing EAs and PAs. A common question at interviews is: “What have you been doing in the last six months to continue learning?”. Employers want to see ownership of CPD, and whilst many of them will offer in-house courses, webinars and the like, they really do want their support staff to make a plan of their own and be hungry for continued learning. Whether you work for a firm that encourages CPD or not, there are scores of ways you can be an ambassador for your own CPD, formally and informally!

Adam Fidler talked to PA Life about taking ownership of your career development.