Beware of bogus CPD courses, warns accreditor

The CPD Standards Office warned employees and employers not to be hoodwinked by ‘cowboy’ providers

Beware of bogus continuing professional development (CPD) courses, a leading accreditation organisation has warned.

The CPD Standards Office, which provides accreditation to hundreds of coaches and providers, has warned the recent proliferation of online courses risks creating “a new wild west” of professional training.

Amanda Rosewarne, chief executive of the accreditation firm, said that employees and employers were increasingly turning to CPD courses since the coronavirus outbreak – but many might not spot the signs of what she described as “opportunist cowboys”.

Over the past few weeks, all sorts of new online learning have been created, the need for external validation of this market has never been greater
– Amanda Rosewarne, The CPD Standards Office

The CPD Standards Office warned that bogus courses can fall short of expectations or, far worse, teach participants out-of-date or incorrect information.

Since the government announced that non-essential businesses should send workers home, some employees find they have less work to do and more flexible working hours, which in turn has “freed up” time for professional development, Ms Rosewarne explained.

“Employers and professional bodies are encouraging this new time for colleagues to engage in distance and online learning whilst people self-isolate and explore new opportunities to brush up on existing skill sets, update professional qualifications and complete professional development,” The CPD Standards Office reports.

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The modern market is “overflowing” with training webinars, podcasts, virtual classroom streaming and one-to-one coaching and “differentiating between the different offerings is extremely difficult,” the accreditor continued.

The organisation blamed “low barriers to entry” and the ease of which online platforms can be populated and promoted – it added that it was important for employers to seek some form of 3rd party certification before spending money.

“Self-isolation has now created a new trend for regular engagement in online learning. Yet with so many new providers entering the online learning market, it has become the new wild-west, where learners can easily be hooked by cowboys,” Ms Rosewarne said.

“Over the past few weeks, all sorts of new online learning have been created, the need for external validation of this market has never been greater.

“It is critical that genuine providers seek accreditation to ensure that their products stand head and shoulders above the rest, and that learners are not hook-winked by cowboys.”


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