CPD or training… What’s the difference?

19th January 2021

Human resources • Industry matters

Ground & Water Senior Engineer, Alec Ovens, explains that while employers are expected to provide employees with mandatory training, it should be a joint responsibility to build the culture of self-improvement which will open the doors that access CPD (Continuing Professional Development), professional and technical excellence and ultimately mutual success in business.

“A company is only as good as its employees”.

This hackneyed phrase, or ones similar, are so often heard in and around management meetings regardless of the industry. There are many employee benefits that a company can provide to retain staff; but enabling employees to develop their industry specific understanding and knowledge, is a benefit that often requires the employer to provide resources and training. This is normally true for most aspects of  job roles, but if individuals wish to continue their professional development and gain further qualifications, there is normally a requirement for them to make the effort and to join professional bodies as a prerequisite for chartership. This will also require the employee to undertaking and record Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Sadly not all employers encourage CPD, fearing that once employees have achieved their professional goals, at the employer’s expense, they will move on to the benefit of a rival organisation.

CPD is a way for individuals to maintain and develop the standards of technical and professional competence required to fulfil the roles they will hold throughout their careers. As well as broadening the individual’s knowledge, the undertaking of CPD gives assurance to the employer and the professional body, that the individual is professionally competent. In order to stay relevant within your industry, it is essential to keep your skills, knowledge and experience up to date, applying what you learn. Knowing what you don’t know, is a skill that usually develops with experience and one that is extremely beneficial to tailoring your specific CPD requirements.

CPDIn the UK, and within the ground engineering industry, a person has spent in the region of 17-18 years in full-time education by the time they join a company in a graduate role. During these years, education and development has been prescriptive and some form the misconception that the terms ‘CPD’ and ‘training’ can be used interchangeably. Training is formal and regimented and is designed to teach something specific relating to a skill and competence. Professional Development covers a wider approach and provides the tools to improve greater capability. Professional Development involves the progression from basic know-how to a more advanced and detailed understanding. It can also include the development of transferable skills, like project management and mentoring. Training is therefore just one string in your CPD bow. CPD cannot be treated as a tick box exercise. Learning must be dynamic and engaging and it comes in so many forms, from purpose-built training exercises and webinars; to the small conversations you have and questions you ask your peers. The opportunity to learn presents itself every day and in a countless number of ways.

Given we all do CPD on a daily basis, largely without knowing it, discussing something that is project specific, watching an industry specific TV programme or formal training, the documentation of CPD is important and enables a reflective process to take place. This documentation is also required by professional bodies as part of any chartership application or on-going accreditation. Specific information for three ground engineering professional bodies can be found at:

To support Ground & Water and meet industry demands and pressures, our team must set itself high standards. We need to be agile and adaptable, responding quickly to challenges, problems and changes. Building and maintaining our knowledge and skills, enables us to apply those insights and add value to our organisation and ourselves.

​Ground & Water wholeheartedly believes that this progress and success can only come with a committed team driving us forward; a team that strives to be the best in everything it does and actively seeks to improve its knowledge, skills and performance. A team, where the members understand the importance of building purposeful and fulfilling learning into the routine of their professional lives.

To be the Ground & Water we want to be, requires the commitment of individual members to orchestrate their own self development and improvement. Managing their own growth, building professional confidence and shaping their career. Embracing new thinking and ways of working is a continual renewal of skills, requiring effort, grit and determination.

Many companies may see robust training and CPD as being a large expense, where staff will take the knowledge they gain with them if they move company; so what is the point? However, the question a company should ask is… What happens if you do not train your staff and they stay!


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