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How-To: Understand the Advantages and Disadvantages of CPD

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

40% of employees who don’t receive the necessary training will leave their position within the first year, according to Leap Like a Salmon. How much you train and develop your people is therefore a huge factor in whether they’ll stay in their job role or become discouraged from it. As a CPD coordinator, you have a great responsibility.

A group of professionals sit around a desk and look at a computer. Above them is a whiteboard with sticky notes on.

Therefore, it’s very important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of CPD, from the perspective of professional bodies, employers and learners.

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is the term used for the learning undertaken by professionals to help them develop their skills, competence and knowledge about their role. It can include training seminars, workshops, further reading, work shadowing, peer reviews and a variety of other activities that further learning.

With technological advances (and the pandemic) requiring job roles to change so drastically, CPD is required more than ever. Professionals are expected to undertake increasing CPD to keep up with modern developments.

So, if you’re a CPD coordinator, read on about the advantages and disadvantages of CPD, so that your 2022 CPD program can get off to the best possible start, with an understanding of any CPD-related problems that need to be ironed out early in the year.

Advantages of CPD

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Maintaining Skills and Knowledge

CPD is a great way to keep the memory of professionals refreshed. It can prevent them from forgetting certain subjects or how to use certain techniques that they haven’t practiced in a while.

Our brains are hardwired to eventually forget knowledge. In the 1880s, psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus discovered that there’s an innate pattern of a “forgetting curve”, whereby people inevitably lose more and more information with the more time that elapses. This pattern has been found in recent replications of Ebbinghaus’s study, including one by Murre and Dros in 2015.

Consequently, professionals will, through no fault of their own, forget knowledge they need in their industry if they don’t touch on it for a while. CPD, with its key word of being ‘continuing’, is hence critical to keeping this knowledge front-of-mind.

This has the end goal of ensuring that professionals can contribute to the overall development of your industry, and provide excellent service to the clients, customers or patients they serve, due to the practice they can gain from hands-on learning.

A person makes notes on their newly gained knowledge in a small notebook

Building on Existing Skills and Knowledge

It goes without saying that a key advantage of CPD is that it can develop skills and knowledge. It’s not just about maintaining that which professionals already have.

CPD activities like group workshops, seminars, peer discussions etc., can allow professionals to learn from each other about new trends in the industry and new ways of doing things.

A man in glasses focuses on making notes as he sits at a sofa in an office

Increasing Credibility

Your members need to acquire CPD points to maintain their professional membership and registrations. This might be critical for them to continue working in their profession. Also, it could seriously help them to obtain promotions and advance in their career.

Furthermore, it benefits employers: professionals who’ve obtained quality CPD are likely to have more confidence in their profession. They’ll therefore will be more likely to stay in their career. Hence, CPD can result in a lower staff turnover, if it’s properly accredited.

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Improving Wellbeing

CPD can be a great tool for improving the wellbeing of your people. After the pandemic, workers experienced extreme forms of isolation and loneliness. Interactive CPD events like group seminars, workshops, conferences etc., can be a great excuse for professionals to interact with their peers and discuss the interesting facets of their work. This can stop them from feeling disconnected – from their goals, from their professional body, and from their industry peers. This is a major advantage of CPD that goes beyond just helping people professionally.

Furthermore, workers experiencing burnout or a lack of confidence due to changes in their careers (and having to adapt to many of these changes from home), may value CPD as a resource that trains them in taking on their current workload in a more confident and efficient way so they don’t struggle.

We have an article all about incorporating mental health considerations into your CPD programmes – read it here.

Disadvantages of CPD

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Payment Concerns

CPD providers and professional bodies must keep in mind that CPD isn’t always affordable for professionals. We should bear in mind that paywalls to CPD might negatively discriminate against workers who can’t afford to attend training events. This is especially prudent in a pandemic. Therefore, a disadvantage about the current system of CPD is that it risks preventing certain workers from fulfilling their potential compared to others, based on income.

Sometimes, employers can cover CPD costs, but this isn’t always the case.

So, if you’re providing CPD events, keep in mind the affordability for your members.

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Time Constraints

Most membership bodies require members to complete a mandatory number of CPD hours each year. These requirements can be quite cumbersome. They may lead to professionals rushing to complete certain activities just so that they can stack up enough points.

Alternatively, some professionals may simply not have the time to carry out all the CPD they’re asked to. For instance, during the pandemic, many pharmacists have not had time to complete their CPD activities, as 62% were already working overtime in the first lockdown. This exacerbates the likelihood of employers not allowing (or not being able to allow) their people time for informal CPD activities during work hours, such as internal training, shadowing, and discussions.

For workers in industries like this, the only option left might be for workers to complete CPD in their own time. This isn’t fair on them, and it might force them to experience burnout. This might even encourage them to quit, which goes against the earlier point of CPD keeping people in their roles.

Therefore, as a membership body, you should keep in mind that your learners will prefer bitesize learning, like microlearning. They won’t always have time to complete longform learning activities. Therefore, you should make shorter or more convenient learning easier for them to access. For instance, hire CPD Online to record your training events. We can produce expertly edited, easy-to-understand training videos for maximum knowledge retention.

A group of CPD professionals gather around a whiteboard to conclude on a strategy.


CPD is increasingly necessary for professionals, regardless of their industry, career level, job role and responsibilities. The advantages and disadvantages of CPD listed above should be considered by all membership organisations, so that future programmes are more considerate of the professionals learning from them.

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