Saturday, 18 August 2012

Thing 10 - Education, education, education

Thing 10 looks at qualifications and formal continuing professional development (CPD), and sets this primarily within the context of early career development: graduate traineeships, Masters courses, CILIP Chartership and Certification. Fortunately for me, Week 8's guest blog from Sheila Webber reminds us that CPD should be a continuous and on-going pursuit. It is within the context of formalising CPD later in the professional career that I would like talk.

Don't get me wrong, I was a graduate trainee at the Polytechnic of Central London (now University of Westminster), I did a fantastic MA in Librarianship at Sheffield (fully funded) and I achieved CILIP Chartership in my first professional post in London. I really valued these experiences, the help and support that I received at all stages, and the shear thought, effort and resource that had been allocated to them all. In all stages I developed significantly as a professional, made many valued colleagues and friends along the way, many of whom I am still in touch with. But all this was over 20 years ago! So for me Thing 10 provides an opportunity to reflect on more formal aspects of CPD within later stages of the career.

Of course, throughout my professional career, there have been some step changes in my development, but none of these have directly led to a formal qualification! My first experiences of staff and budget management, librarianship within a Welsh context, higher education librarianship and faculty liaison, strategic management, project management on a big scale, building redesign, as well as sideways moves into legal librarianship and more recently government information work. My professional committee work has also provided many opportunities for development:  regional representative, national secretary and chair of a special interest group, conference organiser etc.All of these have been significant in enabling me to grow and develop, to apply for new opportunities, and most importantly for me, to feel that I am continuing to make progress, to develop and grow, and to maintain the enjoyment and passion in my professional life.

All good stuff, but what about formal qualifications? Well of course I've continued to study for some of these too during my professional career. An Open University Diploma in Adult and Continuing Education gave me an excellent  foundation for providing user education sessions, understanding how adults learn, for working with adults returning to learning, and also in valuing the extensive informal learning that goes on. I undertook a BTEC Certificate in Management Studies, helping me formally develop my management skills and confidence.

More recently I have also successfully Revalidated my CILIP Chartership. First cycle of revalidation achieved, but  I gave up halfway through the second cycle. I really enjoy doing CPD, learning new things and having new experiences. What I don't enjoy (and find really difficult and time consuming) is the documenting, reflecting and pulling together. For me Revalidation No.2 just seemed like extra work for no perceived recognition or external value. For the time being I'll keep on doing the CPD, learning from it, and implementing it, I'm just not going to spend valued time documenting it, creating a clear narrative of progress,  reflecting and formally planning for the future.

So, if not revalidation, what might be next?

1. CILIP Fellowship - recognising a high level of professional achievement and commitment. Hmmm. Am I there yet? I suspect not, but this should definitely be something to aspire to!

2. BIALL (British & Irish Association of Law Librarians) Legal Foundations Course - an online / distance learning course enabling librarians with at least one year's experience of legal information work to get to grips with legal terminology. Enabling librarians with non-legal backgrounds to have a good foundation in legal knowledge. This would complement my current legal role and provide me with that much needed legal knowledge foundation. My only concern is that as a government librarian my needs and experience are significantly different to colleagues working in commercial practice, or in legal education. I don't routinely have to search for precedents or forms, I mainly support the generation of legislation, rather than supporting contentious or non-contentious work in commercial practice. Therefore would the course meet my needs, and more importantly those of my employer, if she were to grant me the course fees and / or study time?

3. Another Master's course, or perhaps an MPhil? I don't know that I would really want to do another taught masters course, but a sizable piece of self-paced academic study, conducted with rigour and thoroughness, well that would be really appealing! Just issues of: on what; with which university; how would I fund it; and how could I manage my time effectively in order to do it justice? Not too many hurdles to negotiate there then :-(

Once again CDP23 Things is encouraging me to think in a reasonably formal and structured way about my CPD. I do think formal qualifications are an excellent route, and one that should periodically punctuate any professional career. Formal qualifications provide a clear and readily understood benchmark for professional development. However, the less formally documented and accredited experiences of new roles, project work, secondments, temporary working allowances, etc. should be equally promoted, valued and recognised within your professional learning log, work-based performance management review, reflections and your CV! In my opinion a challenging work assignment, or indeed an open and enquiring mind can go a long way in enabling you to continue to develop and grow professionally. I'm just not quite ready to go down the formal qualification route again .... so thank heavens for a challenging job, wider professional involvement and CPD23Things!

No comments:

Post a Comment