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The Future of: Leaders in CPD (2021)

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Organisations are struggling to provide effective CPD. 98% of learning practitioners want to develop a learning culture, but only 36% feel that they’ve developed one, according to the CIPD’s Creating Learning Cultures report 2020. How do we shorten this gap, between organisations who have excellent learning strategies and those who aspire towards this?

A business woman makes notes on some documents at a desk.

There are many facets to creating an effective CPD strategy. However, these won’t work if leaders in CPD can’t help their people adapt to the changing needs of their business. Therefore, CPD leadership styles need to evolve.

CPD Budgets

We’ve posted articles before about how to develop effective CPD budgets and make the most of them. Therefore, we thought it’d be best to start by mentioning this again here. Future CPD leaders need to manage budgets more effectively. This is especially prudent due to budget cuts and a struggling economy. You need to consider how salaries, work environments, and technologies have changed, are changing, and will change.

Usually, HR departments are responsible for managing CPD budgets. However, managers are the ones that oversee the actual working environments. They are the ones who observe the challenges that their people face. Managers should take more accountability regarding how CPD budgets are spent. Therefore, they can inform learning and development objectives. This makes them excellent authorities to also decide on the budgets for them. They can do this with regards to the actual day-to-day skills that their employees face and need help with.

The best CPD leaders of the future will be the people who put the effort in to understand their employees, so that they can responsibly alter their budgets according to what their people actually need. Good CPD leaders can no longer be those that simply give their people expensive “box-ticking” exercises that aren’t received well. As CPD budgets change year-on-year, this is an ongoing process.

A group of employees sit and stand around some sofas and have a discussion.

The Democratisation of CPD

Regarding how influential employees’ opinions are in shaping CPD, learning has become more democratic. All the signs show that this will continue.

The pandemic resulted in CPD having to become easier to access. The employers that were appreciated the most were those that distributed laptops to their people, and produced accessible, high quality CPD that was available remotely and with consideration for people working and learning from home.

Learning is no longer only available to a select few; the IPA notes that we’ve moved from a “know it all” culture, where people either have knowledge or they can’t access it, to a “learn it all” culture. More learning is free to access, for instance online, no matter your location or financial background. If learners don’t get what they want from your learning and development programme, they can access higher quality content online, on YouTube or anywhere else – which they can compare to your content.

To be a CPD leader whose bespoke quality of learning content can be reached by a wider range of people, hire CPD Online to produce branded training videos for your organisation. This is a great way to avoid a limited CPD strategy whereby those who miss out on an in-person training event due to travel, money or time constraints cannot catch up with their colleagues.

A woman uses a pen to draw a graph on a whiteboard, showing profits going up each year.

The Importance of Data in CPD

Metrics have always been important in CPD. The best way to measure if your CPD objectives have been successfully achieved, is to take specific metrics.

E.g. “[x] learners have been able to carry out [y] techniques at the end of the 3 hour session”.

New digital technologies are constantly being incorporated into CPD sessions. These include eLearning courses, CPD videos, and gamification. And with them, there are many new metrics that can now be measured to quantify employees’ CPD progress. eLearning courses and online videos can use web analytics to measure:

• Course completion

• How many videos/modules are viewed

• How this affects learning.

Gamification via CPD applications can use points systems to assess how much learners understand a topic.

Therefore, CPD leaders need to be adept at reading, understanding and analysing this data. Training Journal points out that without metrics, it’s hard to measure progress, identify which challenges are still facing learners, and engage people. This is especially problematic when companies have so many conflicting missions that might overshadow the key CPD strategy.

So, Training Journal states the importance of producing a rich picture from data to display the impact of CPD and any improvements that need to take place. This is integral to supporting CPD objectives.

A man stands in front of a whiteboard and instructs a worker sat at a laptop.

Considerate CPD Leaders

The coronavirus brought with it another pandemic: a mental health crisis. Workers have experienced the loneliness and anxiety of working from home, or livelihoods being put at risk. This has also led to “The Great Resignation” whereby workers experiencing difficult work-life balances have left their jobs in droves.

CPD leaders need to account for this. Employee retention is currently low, and the training an employee receives can be make-or-break for whether they leave your company and require you to fill their role through an expensive new hire. 40% of employees who don’t receive the necessary job training will leave their position within the year. Furthermore, losing an employee in the first year can cost you 3x that employee’s salary.

Future CPD leaders need to understand this. The current working landscape demands that they understand employees’ wellbeing, how employees experience remote working, and their development aspirations. This is so they can create CPD opportunities that keep employees engaged and feeling taken care of.

Two women, one of whom is black, have a chat at a table in the workplace.

Diversity and Inclusion

Let’s now end on something that’s most important to take forward into the future.

CPD needs to help you work towards your company’s objectives. Again linking back to Training Journal, they state that many organisations highlight diversity and inclusion as a strategic objective. Company cultures need to embrace differences if they are to drive more effective innovation. Every day, the importance of diversity is highlighted. Training leaders are key thought leaders who can drive change through the knowledge and skills they spread.

CPD leaders need to utilise how diverse their workforces are, in terms of cultures, ages, and backgrounds. This needs to be embedded into employee learning.

Two women, one of whom is black, sit together in the workplace and discuss.


At such a turbulent time for employees and learners, leaders in CPD must rethink their strategies. You must ensure that you’re creating an environment that motivates learning.

Take ownership of your budget, listen to your employees’ views, make CPD easily accessible, become used to analysing data thoroughly, and put the wellbeing and diversity of your people at the forefront.

Do you have any other tips for fellow CPD leaders? What steps will you take to follow the above tips? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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