Race is on for CPD take-up

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Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are being encouraged to take advantage of the growing demand for continuing professional development (CPD) providers before commercial bodies step in to fill the gap, according to a new report.

The Professional Association Research Network (PARN)study, commissioned by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, found that HEIs are in a unique position to provide CPD to a wide range of professions but risk losing out to commercial providers if they fail to act quickly and rethink their approach to lifelong learning.

Andy Friedman, managing director of PARN and professor of management and economics at the University of Bristol, said: "We found that professional bodies and HEIs both had negative views of future working relationships but once they had taken the plunge, both realised that those views were too pessimistic. We have found many examples of successful partnerships between professional bodies and HEIs. Those that have not taken the plunge should take heart from this."

Demand for CPD has grown rapidly in recent years with 85% of professional bodies requiring their members to participate. The report makes a number of recommendations including suggesting the creation of commercial wings at HEIs to specialise in CPD provision, and the assimilation of career progression programmes into existing undergraduate degrees.

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