How To Secure Funding Approval For Attending CPD Courses – Part 2

This report is based on the highly engaging HEaTED national virtual network meeting held on the 15th of December 2021. It explores the findings of the discussions and views of technical professionals from 44 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and Spain.

You may wonder why I chose this topic for a workshop given that I have already put together an article entitled ‘how to secure funding and approval for attending CPD courses’. I believe we need an accurate and granular picture of the challenges around CPD funding and approval, developed from the views and experiences of technical colleagues across HEIs in the current climate of the covid pandemic, budget constraints, restructuring of services and academic operational needs. This awareness will help us all gain confidence to effectively navigate CPD challenges.

I don’t know about you, but the HEaTED networking event has definitely reassured me that we share three common CPD challenges across the sector, as shown in table 1 and figure 1 (see below – based on the workshop group findings). The CPD challenges ranked in order of mentions are (1) lack of transparency in CPD funds and approval (2) lack of budget and (3) jointly, the lack of time and line management support to pursue learning and development. The top three solutions provided and ranked are (1) need for clarity and structure of CPD funding (2) access to online CPD (especially soft skills) and (3) better CPD management, especially by line managers. Whilst we had an interesting conversation around seizing opportunities for peer learning, it was not mentioned as often as the aforementioned ranked solutions from the breakout room activity.

Given the productive discussions and clear findings at the event, how are we going to address these challenges and solutions? I propose three actions for technical professionals: the first action you can take is to share the findings of this report with your colleagues within and beyond technical services (your management team and staff development teams in the university). This will ensure that relevant stakeholders are aware of the situation and likely solutions they can implement to mitigate CPD challenges. At the very least, it will start conversations for improvements, where required.

The second action you can take is to champion a CPD change in your team and or technical services unit/department/institution. This will propel you to a leadership role, whereby you can help inspire others toward change. To help you realise the change, you will need to develop a mandate by using the findings in this report and by gaining stakeholder support and momentum. Yes, it may be challenging in terms of your effort, time and motivating others, but know this, the reward can be great, in terms of personal recognition, achievement of success for yourself and others through CPD. By being in the vanguard of change, you can shape the processes and improvements in CPD management within your technical services. To get started, why not have an informal 1-1 chat with your line manager and/or with a member of the university staff development team?

The third action is aimed at line managers, team leaders and those with technical services oversight. It is clear from the findings of this workshop that effective CPD management is essential to enable and empower your technicians and team(s). The development of talent will not happen unless you take ownership and responsibility for successful CPD planning and management. The top CPD challenge is the lack of transparency in CPD processes, which can be resolved by making the processes clear and visible for all, along with funding approval criteria. This is not really a challenge, rather a management process that can be rectified by prioritising this as a key management function.  As I highlighted in my previous piece, that funding is available at all universities for learning and development and it resides at the functional level of the team/department/school. Access to online CPD could not be easier given that HEaTED is providing a battery of personal effectiveness soft skills development, bespoke to the needs of technicians, which is available online, on-site and on-demand globally. Where there is a need for dedicated technical management advice, support and expertise, HEaTED is at hand to provide advisory services.

At the heart of all technical services are the technicians contributing to academic activities in HEIs. We know that funding is available and where it mainly resides in the organisation. However, the process for securing funds and gaining CPD approval must be transparent and processes simplified, to help engage technicians. Line managers and team leaders must play a pivotal role in CPD management. The actions highlighted in this report can act as a step in the right direction for technical talent development, because pursuing CPD is guaranteed to create personal, professional and organisational value.

Table 1 – Breakout room group feedback on CPD problems and solutions, identified from the HEaTED national virtual network event held on the 15th of December 2021.

CPD PROBLEMS

CPD SOLUTIONS

GROUP 1

  • Lack of transparency
  • Lack of time to engage with CPD
  • Standardised CPD process across the university (clarity)
  • Online CPD is a viable option – easier to fit around teaching demands

GROUP 2

  • Insufficient budget
  • Lack of time
  • No support from line manager

  • Centrally managed technician  development funds
  • Locally managed funds (management)
  • Peer learning

GROUP 3

  • Transparency of access to funding
  • Poor funding structure (budget)
  • No defined career pathway

 

  • Clarity and structure to CPD funding
  • Local CPD funds management – i.e. line manager (management)
  • Harnessing changing technology and affordability (online CPD offer)

GROUP 4

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of funding (budget)
  • Lack of line manager support
  • Clarity - push benefits of CPD (world class institutes need world class technicians)
  • Get management buy-in, plans and champion support in place (management)
  • Liverpool university idea – 10 days CPD guaranteed

GROUP 5

  • Securing funds - academic technician division (budget)
  • Not knowing where funding exists or who to talk to (lack of transparency)
  • Procurement systems - not quick enough for training 
  • Funding is available
  • Clarity in process to access funding
  • Someone taking over and ensuring sign up to organisations, such as HEaTED (management)

GROUP 6

  • Lack of transparency
  • Unclear CPD procurement process

  • Technician Commitment Initiative – centralised processes
  • Clarity in CPD processes

GROUP 7

  • Implications of CPD with families - particularly women
  • Manager lottery - some managers understand more than others
  • Online CPD access
  • Online better for soft skills

Figure 1 – The top 3 CPD challenges and solutions ranked in order of mentions in the December 2021 workshop

Suhel Miah is a career technician with 30+ years of experience in providing technical services to academia in Higher Education. He has provided operational and technical strategic management oversight, including the development and delivery of a range of customer–focused high quality technical service functions by leading specialist teams.

Suhel provides expert advice and guidance in the development of professional and soft skills learning. He conducts training, coaching and creating engaging and interactive content with insight and know-how.