Learning for life

November 2020

Sarah Shreeves stresses the importance of investing in lifelong learning.

Learning is a never-ending process. As the world changes around us and new uncertainties arise, it becomes even more necessary to build on existing skills and develop new ones that are fit for the future throughout our lives and careers.

In September, the government announced a renewed investment in continuous education for adults. We are glad to see that the importance of lifelong learning is being recognised at a national level. This is something that we at CIPFA have understood for quite some time.

A focus on continuous education is not only crucial for individuals, but also for businesses. There are myriad benefits to continuous professional development, especially at a time when many businesses are having to make difficult decisions and sectors are struggling to survive the pandemic.

In the face of shrinking budgets, one of the first cuts to be made is often to the training budget. Arguably, this is short sighted. Having a well-promoted and applied CPD scheme can create real benefits for employers and generate a tangible return on investment. High-performing organisations need to be ready for change, with people who are both skilled and highly motivated. A robust CPD scheme can enable this, by developing these characteristics in employees:

• Highly skilled – training will not only enable you to up-skill your current staff. Having a well-publicised policy that offers good opportunities for CPD will enable you to attract the best applicants for your vacancies.

• Highly motivated – many studies demonstrate that the provision of opportunities to learn and develop are very strong motivating factors for individuals at work. Motivated employees who feel valued by being invested in will go the extra mile, offer discretionary effort and will be less likely to leave.

Ready for change – organisations cannot simply do the things they’ve always done; they must evolve and change. Employees must have the necessary skills not only for today but also for tomorrow – to enable survival, innovation and growth.

In recognition of this, CIPFA offers a range of short courses developed specifically for public sector organisations. These courses provide the opportunity for delegates to learn new skills which can immediately be implemented in the workplace. In addition to accountancy and financial reporting training, we also offer courses in commercial skills, leadership and fraud investigations – just to name a few.

Our accountancy apprenticeships are offered at three different levels – Level 3 Assistant Accountant, Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician and Level 7 Professional Accountant. All CIPFA courses are flexible and designed to meet the needs of students at various stage of their careers, as well as the needs of their employers.

It’s not necessary to attend university to become a skilled practitioner in accountancy, and it’s never too late to develop new expertise. CIPFA students and delegates range from those just beginning their careers to individuals with years of experience who hold management positions.

While Covid-19 has caused significant disruption throughout the sector, we have been able to adapt by moving our courses and training online for the foreseeable future. Even amid a pandemic, we are providing our students and delegates with a reliable means to continue their learning at a time when many industries are facing an uncertain future.

Although we can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, we can prepare for it through continuous professional development. The government’s renewed investment in lifelong learning is a welcome indication that education and training will remain priorities in a post-Covid world.

At CIPFA, we will continue adapting to the new normal by offering a wide range of opportunities for individuals to obtain new skills across the lifespan of their careers.

• Sarah Shreeves is CIPFA’s Head of Training.