By Louise Struwig
The topic of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) was at the top of the Agenda for the South African Qualifications Authority’s 8th Professional Body Forum held in Hatfield on 31 March, and garnered much discussion and hot debate among stakeholders. The one ideal however that all agree on, is that CPD is a process of lifelong learning which requires all professionals to systematically engage in activities that maintain ability and increase skill and knowledge. The objective of a CPD programme should be to help members develop and maintain professional competence in order to provide services of high quality in the interest of the Professional Body’s stakeholders and clients.
Since PRISA is a professional body recognised in terms of the NQF Act 2008, it has certain obligations to nurture a commitment to lifelong learning and development for public relations professionals. While CPD programmes and the allocation of points differ from professional body to professional body, SAQA requires that all members must develop and maintain their professional competence, relevant to the nature of their work and professional responsibilities.
Findings from a recent research survey, undertaken by a group of professional bodies from the financial industry showed that there is a dire need for the development of a policy document to guide CPD service providers and standardise the quality of workshops and the allocation of CPD points.
SAQA has taken up the call and established the SAQA Recognised Professional Body Standards Reference Group. This is an exciting initiative for the further professionalisation of the Public Relations and Communication Management Industry. Once a policy document is in place, public relations professionals will be guaranteed even better quality CPD opportunities.
In the interim, PRISA will continue to provide the best offering for our members by constantly assessing best global practice in order to benchmark its programme against a variety of global organisation frameworks as well as adhere closely to the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication (GA) objectives. This year we have the added advantage of the PRISA and VMA research survey findings to highlight communication needs in South Africa which will to a large degree, alongside the global best practice guidelines, inform the CPD programme going forward.
CPD is compulsory and applicable to all professional body members, but especially to PRISA members who hold the SAQA registered PRP. CPRP or APR designations. The minimum amount of points which must be accumulated annually is thirty five, starting from 1 January and ending on 31 December, with a total of 100 points recorded over a three year period. For more information or to add your comments and/or give input into the CPD programme, please contact Louise Struwig at PRISA 011 326 1262.