Professional development: Developing your skills

Professional development is high on the agenda at the RTPI. Every year, members are required – under the institute's Code of Professional Conduct – to write and maintain a professional development plan (PDP) and complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuous professional development (CPD).

As a result, most planning professionals have a career development game plan that can help them to advance their career and achieve their ambitions.

PDPs follow a specific structure and you can download a template on the RTPI website. Each PDP should have three elements:

  • Reflection. Describe your current role, the skills and knowledge you need and the changes likely to occur in the next two years.
  • Analysis. Do your own SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
  • Planning. Consider your short (1-2 years) and long-term (3 years+) career ambitions using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) objectives.

It’s worth reviewing and updating your PDP regularly so you can take advantage of new opportunities.

There are many ways to improve your skills using CPD, and guidance from the RTPI points out that CPD is not all about courses and conferences. The overriding factor is whether your chosen forms of CPD activity help meet the needs for development that you identified initially in your PDP.

Naturally, the courses put on by the RTPI and others are a logical first port of call, but the RTPI is not prescriptive. Indeed, it suggests that CPD can include any “unexpected source of learning” that help your development as a planner. Again, the key determinant of the value of an activity is how closely it can be related to your professional development plan.

Other elements of CPD include distance learning, academic research, work-based development, industry conferences, studying for new qualifications and active involvement in bodies like the RTPI. Develop your own game plan.

Planner cover Guide 2015

To read more from the Planner 2015 Guide to Career Development please click here.

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