CPD Research Project

The initial cpd research behind the cpd standards office

View the 2023-2024 CPD Research

In 2023 The CPD Standards Office has renewed the CPD Research Project and looking for participants including individual professionals, CPD training providers, and professional bodies. Click here to find out more and download the whitepaper.

True CPD Experts and Cutting Edge Research

Founded in 2012, The CPD Standards Office has spent over a decade researching and understanding the role of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on a pan-industry, multi-disciplinary basis, within the current UK business environment.  

The Office was established following one of the largest academic studies into the field of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and adult skills development. 

In partnership with Kingston Business School, Warwick University and an educational charity at Oxford University, the research was conducted over a period of 2 years.  

The results yielded a range of insights, and opened the door for professional bodies and employers to understand how to deliver positive and successful CPD learning experiences.

Out of all the findings, the most dominant was that professional individuals in the UK had an increasing low regard and dislike for undertaking CPD, for the following reasons: 

  • The quality of training courses advertised as CPD learning were often poor educational experiences for individual professionals 
  • Many CPD learning experiences were mis-sold, and actually a sales presentation or a commercially focused activity
  • The CPD accreditation services available were mainly approving providers at an organisational level, and not investigating the actual titles and educational units.

Our Partners

We were fortunate to be supported by many organisations and professional bodies who made this research possible.

Please note that the CPD Standards Research is a longitudinal, independent research project and was founded back in 2012. Professional institutes, regulators and employers are electing to voluntarily take part and contribute to the research project.

The CPD Standards Office does not have any direct or contractual relationships with any organisation participating in the research project, nor are  they formally affiliated or classified as an accredited CPDSO provider.

Undertaking a trilogy of research streams, the project explores CPD from the positions of 3 key stakeholders: CPD Learning Providers, Professional Bodies and Individuals. 

So…. from a humble academic research project, grew the blessing for an independent CPD accreditation service, built on scientific evidence, with a robust methodology, to verify training and coaching providers as formal CPD providers based on the quality of their learning portfolio. 

Launched at Kingston University Business School in 2010, the CPD Research Project used an online questionnaire to survey over 1,000 project managers, PAs and occupational psychologists about their experiences of CPD. In addition, Amanda Rosewarne, the Project Director, conducted over 40 interviews with professional bodies, employers, academics and training providers.

One of the most striking findings of the first phase of the research project was that the quality of most training and learning activities that individuals undertake for CPD purposes is exceptionally low. In addition, much CPD provision is inconsistent in its effectiveness.

This uncovered a demand for an independent accreditation standard that recognised high-quality CPD activities and ensured they were relevant to all types of CPD schemes, which led to the establishment of the CPD Standards Office.

The CPD Research Project is now in its third phase and is currently working with a number of professional institutes and training providers to establish effective ways to recognise and reward CPD.

Research Findings In A Nutshell

Everyone does CPD, mostly as part of their job (e.g. searching the internet for information, learning from formal and informal team discussions, and attending conferences/seminars). But often many of these activities are not recognised as CPD. The overwhelming majority engage in CPD because they think it helps them to do their jobs better. A smaller number also think that CPD can advance their careers. 65% of project managers, for example, were so convinced of the benefits that they had paid for some CPD out of their own pockets. Individuals who are more heavily engaged in CPD tend to be more committed to their work and to be ‘good citizens’ in the workplace (i.e. to go the extra mile for their colleagues and the organisation).

Some respondents have had very positive experiences of CPD – for example:

“The do-reflect-improve approach proved what I did know, highlighted weaknesses and filled the gap.”

“Learning outside the organisation allows time to reflect on what you are doing and your role.”

But there are also many negative experiences:

“All I hear about CPD is rather woolly.”

“It becomes a case of trying to justify a CPD activity in order to be able to tick a box and allocate hours.”

“CPD is not rigorous and tested to ensure good learning.”

"Many respondents described attending poor training courses."

CPD works best for individuals when it is:


‘The best experiences are those that enable you to use CPD at work to immediately improve on performance.’


‘Presenting work to colleagues by engaging in positive conversations and lively debates on your findings.’


‘Attending training that has been recognised for its quality and is fit for CPD purposes.’


‘CPD works best if it is led by the individual.’

CPD has a poor reputation for rigour and value, it remains too biased toward technical rather than soft skills, many people equate it too closely with ‘going on a course’ and linkages are insufficiently strong between those with a stake in CPD (professional bodies, institutes, employers, CPD providers and individuals).

Yet if CPD is done well, it has substantial potential to improve performance, increase innovation and enhance the quality of working life.