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CPD do freelancers really need it?


A friend of mine, a freelance trainer, recently re-joined the CIPD as an associate. She was sent all the bumph about CPD, then she asked me is as a freelancer myself I'd ever been asked to produce my CPD. I said no, no employers, no other professional organisation, the CIPD itself, in fact no one had ever asked to see my CPD, it was never a pre-requisite to getting a freelance position. My friend rang the CPD and asked if she really needed to complete it as she'd never been asked to produce a log, was it optional. She was advised to complete it, she was a member after all, she persisted and said but its not a requirement of joining and secondly she wasn't a fully fledged member anyway, she was an associate. After consideration the CIPD said it wasn't necessary to complete it, it was in fact optional.
My friend wasn't against learning, she just didn't see the necessity to record it all and regarded it all as a palaver, she felt learning didn't have to be written down in order for it to be learnt, that was just the recording method.
So does writing things down in a log really help us get jobs??
Juliet LeFevre

12 Responses

  1. CPD or written logs – are they the same?
    Hi Juliet
    “does writing things down in a log really help us get jobs”
    well yes and no.

    Lets look first at the principles.. Peter Honey in much of his work referrers to the learning cycle, his research (and others) suggest that there is a cycle to go through to optimise learning. This include reflection. As most trainers and freelancers prefer activist/ pragmatist activities, many of us are weak on reflection.

    Using learning logs is a structured way of helping us ensure we have the maximum opportunity of completing the learning cycle fully.

    Many would argue that without writing a log (or diary) that knowledge may have been obtained, but ‘true’ learning as not.

    CPD activity itself is not the same as the generation of a log. A log is one part of that activity.

    CPD is about employability not getting a particular role.


  2. Some sympathy…
    …for Mike’s point, but I find that I can pretty much retain everything that I read of interest and keeping a log of what I’ve learned would reduce my personal learning time. I already have hundreds (literally) pieces of paper that demonstrate my learning through certification/qualification and I don’t think a CPD log would assist with that.

    However it’s something I encourage my staff to do as part of their development process so that I can see that they are taking an active role in their own development rather than just expecting me (and the company) to pay for spoon feeding on every point.

  3. how long should a learning log be?
    Nik, a learning log may be as simple as a branch on a mind map – does that really eat into your personal time?

  4. Mind mapping
    Mike, I take your point but I don’t find mind mapping a useful technique for me at all.

  5. one size does not fit all
    Hi Nik, not suggesting it does suit you, but it will some – its about finding a way of recording activity and reflecting that does work for each of us as individuals… It is too easy to say “I dont need to be reflective” most activitists will agree with you… but does not make it effective.

  6. Fully agree
    Mike, I fully agree with your sentiment – reflection is an essential activity – I just don’t find that writing stuff down adds to my reflection – it in fact detracts from it. I’m also not suggesting that this is true for everyone – it almost certainly isn’t.

  7. CPD and CPD records
    There are a number of issues that seemed to have got jumbled up in this debate.
    Firstly, I think CPD is important. That is why we, at the National School of Government, do ask about this when recruiting. A CPD record can be helpful to keep track of things and need not be time consumming – I spend less than 1 hour a year on mine. Incidentally, as a qualifications provider, I and my colleagues do submit them to the CIPD once a year.
    The CIPD, like most professional institutes, do not require submission of CPD records for associate members (ie those below full membership status). As to full members, different institutes have different requirements, some much more rigorous.
    Personal Development Plans, Action Plans and, as mentioned below, Learning Logs all have parts to play. By and large keeping a learning log, or diary, is a personal process to support reflective learning. It may be a requirement for some qualifications but mostly it is a tool of choice.
    For more info on CPD see

  8. It helps us to learn from experience
    Why should we keep a learning log?

    Prospective clients are often interested in how we keep our skills up to date. And making notes about our training practice and reflecting on these helps to build competence and confidence.

    The theory is that we can learn much about ourselves and the world around us by keeping a log. This is because:
    • It is easier to remember things when we have written them down
    • The process of writing can help us to develop theories which we can apply in new situations
    • The concentration involved in writing and reflecting may put us in touch with our deeper feelings and emotions.

    During our work we acquire skills and knowledge in a whole range of different ways; from studying journals and text books, to learning from our work experience and talking to other people. We may even gain insights from other parts of our lives which we can transfer to our professional practice.

    The learning log helps to pull together these disparate experiences and extract the maximum benefit from them.

    Knowledge in the form of our skills, values, attitudes and emotions, is continually being created and modified by a complex process of trial and error.

    Reflecting on the things that happen to us in a learning log can help to make the often chaotic process of learning from experience more organised and conscious.

    If you find it hard to get into the routine of keeping a log, try one of the following:

    If it is hard to find the time to write, could you try to build it into your weekly routine or reward yourself some way when the job is done?

    If you are the sort of person who needs to bounce their ideas off someone else before putting pen to paper, can you make a regular arrangement with a colleague or mentor?

    Can you remind yourself of all the benefits of using the learning log – including the fact that it is helping you to achieve your learning and business objectives?

    The best reward is to look back over a few months logging and to identify all your learning achievements. These are not just skills that you have gained, they may also be information or knowledge which you have acquired or a new attitude or way of looking at things.

  9. cpd
    As a freelancer with seven years experience – combination of personl contracts and associate work, I have never been asked for qualifications. Whilst a bit scary in some respects (anyone could be out there!) my personal experience is that clients/customers buy you, your credibility, and your chemistry. For the record, I have joint honors BA, CIPD, Certificate in Training Practice, NLP Practitioner and Licensed Aministrator of various psycometrics – does anyone ask – very rarely!!

  10. Arian Associates Ltd
    I’m sorry if I upset some of the respondents to this question but YES CPD IS IMPORTANT – VERY IMPORTANT.
    How on earth do you keep up with current developments in your chosen field (subject specialisms) without it ?
    Or do you purport to be the font of all knowledge and know everything – I don’t think so.
    If you are working in the world of FE or take on LSC Funded projects you are about to be thrown well and truly into the world of CPD – whether you like it or not. The ‘Institute for Learning’ has arrived upon us and this has massive implications in respect of Teaching Qualifications and CPD. No Teaching qualification no membership – no membership unable to work in FE or on LSC funded projects. All memberships to be sorted by end of March 2008.
    So back to the start YES CPD IS VERY IMPORTANT and is going to become even more so in the future – that is if you want to work !

  11. Childish Moment…
    …look, I agree that CPD is important though I don’t and probably never will agree that keeping a log of your “learning” is an essential part of that.

    But, if keeping a log is an essential part of working on LSC or FE projects then I’m glad that I’m well out if.

    The LSC and FE sector in the UK are responsible for low quality, lousy learning experiences in the main. I have worked on LSC projects and watched the amount of money they waste on goals that no-one needs achieving and delivering the lowest standard of learning via the FE sector.

    I’ve worked in the Training sector all my life, I don’t consider myself a teacher – I am a training professional.

    And I certainly don’t need lectures on how to develop myself from a government sector that leaves millions of children and adults each year unable to read and write, and unable to add up.

    I’m all for a scientific values based approach to learning, unfortunately most of what I see dressed up as learning – is in fact the creation of new “beliefs”. And I never wanted to be a witch-doctor, I wanted to be a businessman who could achieve results.

    Simple cause and effect monitoring is all it takes, something that the British education system seems vastly underequipped to offer.

    I’m not saying all training and teaching is bad, or that all trainers and teachers who maintain learning logs are bad either. I am saying that I’m beginning to understand why the world says “those who can do, those who can’t teach.”

    And drivel about the LSC and the FE sector, strongly suggests that when the cap fits – you’ve got to wear it.

  12. Arian Associates Ltd
    Nik – It would appear we have touched a nerve !
    Looking at your picture ‘All of your life’ doesn’t look to have actually been very long.
    I too am a training professional and quite a bit longer in the tooth – but the world in which we operate as trainers has changed dramatically over the years and we have to either ‘go with the flow or perish’.
    Having the neccessary qualifications to go with the flow and join this new organisation called the Institute for Learning is not an option. There are a great many unqualified people out there who are the very ones that deliver the poor quality FE & LSC projects you mention and who will hopefully fall by the wayside as a result of this mandatory membership – I also have to stick up for ‘some’ FE provision and ‘some’ LSC funded projects though, as over the years I have acquired many aqcaintances into my network of contacts and associates that work on these very programmes and some of them are rather good to say the least, so it is a little unfair to tar them all with the same brush in such a sweeping statement.
    Back to CPD – full membership of many professional Institutes now demands CPD provision and I, like many other professionals, have no problem providing it because like the comment from Graham below, it only takes about an hour or so to update. That is of course if any is actually undertaken – and if it is then why not make sure that the fact is known and maintain that professional status.
    By the way we don’t operate in either the world of FE or LSC funded projects. We offer professional business to business training across a wide subject base, designed and delivered by training professionals – so the cap doesn’t even get tried on but we still all adhere to the ‘industry standard’ and log CPD even though it is a pain.


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