Continuing professional
development

Get to grips with your CPD requirements as an authorised OISC adviser.

Introduction

This is a short guide to help you get to grips with your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements as an authorised OISC adviser. We've also put together a template CPD plan and record which you can use to keep track of your CPD activities.

CPD requirements

The OISC has a statutory duty to ensure that its regulated advisers are "fit and competent" to provide immigration advice and services. Part of being fit and competent is ensuring that you continue learning and developing, and keep up-to-date with the best practice and latest legal developments.

This is reflected in Codes 4, 5 and 6 of the OISC Code of Standards.

What do I have to do?

All OISC authorised advisers and registered organisations must meet the CPD requirements, no matter their level.The scheme is not prescriptive, i.e. you don't have to do a set number of hours of CPD a year. The only requirement is that you do an appropriate amount of CPD a year to remain fit and competent.

To this end, registered organisations are expected to:

1. Consider their needs, both as an organisation, and as individual advisers

Think about:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our advice service?
  • Are we meeting our clients' needs?
  • What needs to be done to maintain the skills, knowledge and aptitudes of the advisers, and ensure they're up-to-date?
  • What levels are our advisors?  The higher the level, the more CPD we may need keep up-to-date
  • Are we meeting our regulatory obligations?

Make sure you take into account each adviser's level – the higher the level, the more CPD you may need to undertake to keep up-to-date.

2. Set outcomes based on these needs

Reflect on the type of work that your organisation does and the type of development that you need to focus on. Think about:

  • What can we do to improve our service and better meet client needs?
  • Which skills, knowledge or aptitudes should advisers focus on improving?

The only requirement is that the learning and development is relevant to the advice and services provided by your organisation and the individual adviser.

3. Plan appropriate CPD activities that allow these outcomes to be achieved

The OISC expects you to organise CPD review/planning meetings, on at least an annual basis. New advisers should have an initial CPD planning meeting shortly after they've been authorised.

These meetings should serve to:

  • Identify what areas advisers should undertake their CPD in. Are there changes in immigration law and practice or changes to regulatory requirements which need to be addressed? Do they want to widen or change their areas of work? Are they regularly coming across an issue in their work which they've not been sure how to deal with?
  • CPD does not have to be legal training. Learning and development could be on ethics and professional conduct, business management skills e.g. leadership, or customer service and quality.
  • Again, the only requirement is that the CPD is relevant to the work undertaken by the advisers and the organisation. You must be able to demonstrate that relevance if asked by the OISC.
  • Decide how the CPD should be carried out. This can take many forms, including training sessions (either external or in-house), conferences, and reading resources such as Free Movement on a regular basis.
  • Decide how the CPD will be recorded. If you're already recording it, evaluate whether the way you've been recording it is working well.
  • Evaluate the CPD you've undertaken since the last planning meeting (see below).

4. Evaluate whether these outcomes have been achieved.

When evaluating whether the outcomes have been achieved at the CPD planning meeting, reflect on the work which has been undertaken and whether it has had the desired impact on the organisation's service, and/or the advisers' skills, knowledge and aptitude.

What worked well, and what didn't? If the desired outcome has not been achieved, why? How can the CPD activities be more effective next time?

Can the OISC check that we're meeting these requirements?

Yes – when the OISC carries out an audit of your organisation, they will look at whether you're meeting the CPD requirements. 

They can also review and inspect whether you're complying with CPD requirements as part of a complaint investigation or sampling exercise.

How to prove we're meeting requirements?

Registered organisations must keep records of individual authorised advisers' CPD activities. These records should also include supporting evidence of the activities, e.g. certificates proving that you completed particular training programs. You must also keep a record of the CPD review/planning meetings.

The idea is that you're proving not only that you're carrying out CPD activities, but that there's some kind of plan and structure, where you've set goals (both as an organisation and as individual advisers) to achieve over the CPD review period.

The OISC does not prescribe how you should record and plan the activities. You can use our template CPD record and plan for this purpose, or the OISC's own templates (see Helpful resources below). You can also make your own, or adapt our templates and/or the OISC's templates to find the right approach for you.

What are OISC looking for?

The OISC has said that common breaches of these requirements include where:

  • There's no evidence of an annual programme of planned CPD activity
  • The planned CPD activity is not relevant to the advice and services provided by the organisation
  • Planned CPD activities haven't been undertaken, without a "justifiable explanation". Unfortunately, the OISC guidance doesn't give any examples of what a justifiable explanation might be. It is likely that they'll be more understanding if the planned activities have only failed to happen rarely – if it looks like there's a systematic, regular problem where planned activities aren't happening, the OISC are less likely to accept your explanation for it. 
  • The organisation has failed to complete CPD activities which have been specifically requested by the OISC

Consequences of not meeting requirements

With minor breaches, it is likely that the OISC will make specific recommendations regarding planning future CPD activity.

In a more serious situation, where it's clear that failing to meet CPD requirements has prevented the organisation and/or individual advisers from providing fit and competent advice and services, sanctions can be more severe. For example:

  • An authorised adviser may be required to undertake specific training immediately
  • An authorised adviser may be required to take a competence assessment
  • An authorised adviser's registration may be changed (e.g. their level may be lowered)
  • An authorised adviser's registration may be cancelled
  • The registered organisation's registration may be cancelled.

So it's important to take these CPD requirements seriously!

Helpful resources

OISC CPD Guidance Booklet

This is the official OISC guidance on CPD. It sets out what they expect you to do, and how they will monitor your compliance. This page also includes the OISC's own templates for learning and development plans and records.

They've created a separate document for each, which you may prefer to our combined template. There's no right way of doing this, so go for what works best for you and your organisation.

Template Learning and Development Plan and Record

You can use this template to plan your CPD activities and record which ones you carry out during a CPD period. With the template, we've included some examples to show how you could fill it in.

Feel free to change the template to suit your needs as an adviser/your organisation's needs – what we've designed is just to help you get started!