The need for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in the UAE

By Priya Chetty on December 19, 2019

The University of Management and Technology, Arlington (Virginia), in the United States initially used the term ‘Professional Development’. The need for the same was required in the training of the institute’s staff in the 1960s (Alsop, 2008). After the formation and evolution of the professional development theory, many individuals like teachers, military officers, lawyers, engineers, etc. have been applying it in their field of work. Individuals normally participate in professional development when they require it for continuous development such as:

  • learning,
  • moral obligations,
  • maintaining professional competence,
  • enhancing career progression,
  • keeping abreast of new technologies and innovations, and
  • to comply with a new career.

The concept of Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) can be understood as;

An educational process by which professional people maintain, enhance and broaden professional competence.

Alsop, 2008: 1

While trying to understand CPD, there are two approaches through which it can be determined. Formal approach, where CPD is pursued through formal education in post-secondary or post-graduate courses. While in the informal approach, individuals pursue professional courses independently given by human resource development.

CPD is, therefore, the education of professionals after the completion of formal training in terms of specific courses (Day, Christopher, Sachs, & Judyth, 2005; Halton, Scanlon, & Powell, 2015). CPD requires professionals to maintain, build upon and increase their knowledge of professional performance and technical skills.

Examples of CPD are conferences, courses, workshops as well as less formal activities that are undertaken by professionals to compete in the OPCOs of the UAE.

Achieving career goals

Employees benefit from continuous learning by having increased confidence and credibility. The process also assists in them achieving their career goals within their organization. Employees with structured professional development programs are often able to meet the needs of the organization. They are also more dedicated and often possess specialized skills and knowledge to work in the organization.

Monitoring skills and knowledge

Possessing a formal professional development program is not only about developing knowledge, but it is also about possessing the mechanism to plan, record, evaluate, and demonstrate their knowledge and skills (Megginson & Whitaker, 2003; Scales et al., 2011).

Professional development also allows businesses to track the development of their employees and ensure that they are growing in the right direction. Through dialogue between the more experienced and the less experienced, the CPD helps in transforming the professional careers of those involved.

Action research in companies

For organizations, CPD contributes to maximizing staff potential by offering theory & practice, learning & action. It also helps the organization and its HR professionals to amend policies with specific objectives, that are measurable, achievable and realistic. It also helps to achieve goals that be realized within a specific timeframe (Mizell, 2010). The organizations are able to promote staff development as a whole that makes them reflect with positivity.

Enhanced job satisfaction

CPD initiatives of organizations are also associated with job satisfaction as it leads to improving staff morale. It also helps in recruiting more highly skilled workers as the policy is attractive to prospective employees. It is an important determinant of the future supply of post-graduates in different specialties and the planning of the workforce for the company. Many factors influence the specialty choices of graduates and future working areas.

CPD is thus required in almost all modern organizations of the UAE because it helps to keep up with day to day technical developments. It also extends the knowledge in a specific field and honing existing skills, while developing new skills at the same time. Professional development also brings about an understanding of the new skills and knowledge and applying them practically at work with other employees.

Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations Ltd. (ADCO)

Almost all oil and gas companies in the UAE follow a competencies framework that links to the company’s objectives and goals. Based on this framework, they plan their CPD initiative for the employees.

Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations Ltd. (ADCO) in the UAE offers its employees the opportunity to get a higher diploma or graduate or post postgraduate in disciplines that aligns with their needs. Some of the disciplines, particularly in engineering, are given emphasis since this can bring the required competencies to the companies (ADCO, 2016). Given its objectives and requirements, the company aims to bring maximum benefits to the students and employees and maintain the company’s role as a contributor to the development of society. The company aims in achieving its long-term goals through such advanced inbuilt strategies, and also make ‘lifelong learning’ at the workplace to be imbibed upon.

Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA)

In ADMA, the competencies framework that aligns with their objectives is seen from developing manpower resources (ADMA, 2016). The skills, resources, and competencies are considered as the main company’s assets, and hence employee scholars who meet such requirements are valued. The employees are expected to at least one of the skills valued by the companies.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)

In ADNOC, competencies are built by emphasizing on ‘sustainable development’ (ADNOC, 2016). Since such objectives required a competent vision, the company looks towards roping in scholars that are well versed in bringing changes and development in the environment, social aspects, and economic development. They also intend to mitigate risks in management and be responsible for setting standards for the OPCOs plying in the Gulf. Hence, the company looks for such employees that will work for the objectives of the company.

Continuous Professional Development strategies followed by oil and gas companies in the UAE

The ADCO company has come to link their needs to various universities that have also been met with profound success. These universities include:

  • Abu Dhabi University,
  • Al Hosn University,
  • Al Ghurair University,
  • Higher Colleges of Technology, and
  • Petroleum institute.

For the learning and development upon being hired, the company intends that the employees meet the requirements of the shareholders within and across the borders (ADCO, 2016). Such objectives are made to be realized through a variety of assessments and research procedures. The centers for on-job-training and development are done from:

  • the ADCO Talent Development Centre with Psychometric assessments,
  • the 360° Feedback Assessments from behavioral assessments,
  • Performance, and Career Reviews,
  • holding the Personal Development Planning,
  • giving Executive Development, and
  • making scholars attend International Conferences.

They are also made to follow instructor-led training, e-learning, etc. as part of on-job-training programs. Other customized training programs are also given emphasized such as meeting technical training competencies and being able to deal and adjust in a modern globalized market.

ADMA also emphasis rigorous and continuous training, along with their work, once the employees are given their position (ADMA, 2016). Aligned to their visions and objectives, the ADNOC company emphasizes on HSE Management System in their on-job-training procedures (ADNOC, 2016). In a nutshell, for job satisfaction of the employees, and for the training and development that meets the need of the companies, scholars and organizations on both their sides can help identify their needs and overcome it (Reddy, 2013). Cooperation on both sides is vital for their organizational, career, and research developmental needs.


  • ADCO. (2016). Welcome to ADCO.[online]. Available at Last accessed on 11th November 2019.
  • ADMA. (2016). ADMA-OPCO| People |Manpower Development|Introduction/Emiritisation. [online]. Available at Last accessed on 11th November 2019.
  • ADNOC. (2016). ADNOC: Home. [online]. Available at Last accessed on 11th November 2019.
  • Alsop, A. (2008). Continuing Professional Development: A Guide for Therapists. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Day, Christopher, Sachs, & Judyth. (2005). International Handbook On The Continuing Professional Development Of Teachers. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
  • Halton, C., Scanlon, M., & Powell, F. (2015). Continuing Professional Development in Social Work. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Megginson, D., & Whitaker, V. (2003). Continuing Professional Development. London: CIPD Publishing.
  • Mizell, H. (2010). Why Professional Development Matters. Learning Forward (NJ), 1–28.
  • Reddy, A. (2013). A Study on Impact of Hr Strategies on Employee Performance in Abu Dhabi Distribution Company. International Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary Research, 2(1), 154–170.
  • Scales, Peter, Pickering, Jo, Senior, & Lynn. (2011). Continuing Professional Development In The Lifelong Learning Sector. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

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