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How seafarers can use CPD to thrive in the skills revolution

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is defined by The Nautical Institute as, “The process that enables maritime professionals to take control of their own learning and development by carrying out activities that ensure they are competent and successful throughout their career, both at sea and ashore”. As we look to the importance of maritime CPD, we ask what it means to seafarers and how CPD improves skills, knowledge, experience, and career progression.

The process is about tracking the actions taken, whether formally or informally, to improve their abilities. It is therefore essential that we ensure that maritime professionals are aware of the latest developments, tools and means of accessing resources for CPD. We also need to make sure that people understand that it is important, worthwhile, and even enjoyable.

Thanks to advances in technology and connectivity, it is now easier than ever for mariners to access a wealth of e-learning material wherever they are in the world and on multiple devices. Competency Management Systems, such as our Ocean Learning Platform CMS, offer frameworks that map and capture ability in key proficiencies and present clear pathways that can guide career development and signal when a crew member is ready for promotion.


Individuals also need to set their vision, career and development targets and should be supported to pursue them. They also can and do invest in their learning. This is why we are increasing our provision of easy to access, pay-as-you-go courses that can help individuals gain the certification they need to progress their careers.

As such, CPD activities come in many forms. There are formal qualifications, attendance courses, work-based and distance learning or online courses. There is also informal learning such as private study, seminars or conferences, preparation of papers, delivery of presentations, even reading articles such as this one. These may be wholly professionally focused, or even to gain a broader skillset. CPD is about improvement, whatever the subject area.

The aim is to enable an individual to focus on areas of their development that will move them forward as part of a bigger plan for growth. Producing a framework to identify gaps in knowledge empowers them to set about filling those missing elements. Solving complex problems, communicating with, and leading others, driving collaboration, and harnessing digitalisation, are the kinds of new skills needed. It is only through dedication and a commitment to CPD that this will be possible. 

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At the most basic level, CPD allows and encourages you to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills. The fact that someone invests in CPD means that they are more effective in the workplace, and can keep ahead of the pack when it comes to the likes of promotion or new opportunities.

Keeping up with changing trends and information, also means that people who use CPD have a better understanding of the implications of work and their role, and also an insight into new technology. This means a sense of direction and purpose, CPD allows people to make their employment path, with access to experts, insight and deeper knowledge.

It is very hard for anyone to tell you what a good CPD plan for you is. Though it is always valuable to learn from others. Where there are problems, they often relate to trying too many activities, with no chance to reflect or follow up. CPD needs to be carefully and considerately managed. So, plan your CPD today, and put your career on course for success.

CPD and the maritime skills revolution

Why should you invest in CPD?

The importance of CPD to maritime employers

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