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Title: An investigation into farmers' continuing professional development
Author: Byles, Sharon M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 1871
Awarding Body: The University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2010
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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an integral part of most careers, particularly where practitioners have to deal with challenges of technological change and advances in knowledge along with economic, institutional and political uncertainties. CPD is undertaken across a wide spectrum of professions, but what it consists of, and how it should be implemented to develop a career, are aspects of CPD that are not completely understood. Public demand for accountability of professional conduct reinforces the role that CPD plays in maintaining and improving professional effectiveness and competencies. CPD is encouraged within professions as the assumption is that it is beneficial and that by undertaking CPD a professional upholds standards. In these respects, farming is no exception. Evidence that this is the case is less obvious and because many of the outcomes of CPD can only be examined subjectively, rigorous evaluation is problematic. CPD is investigated, first generically, to gain a better understanding of its purpose and nature, looking at systems in place across organisations and how its success is assessed. This research has explored patterns of CPD among farmers, focusing on the relationship between CPD and the farmer and farm business. A multi-method approach began with a review of the existing literature which directed the design of the initial Vocational Training Scheme (VTS) survey conducted in the South West of England to obtain baseline information on CPD undertaken by farmers. Statistical investigation of relationships between farmers and farm characteristics and CPD identified influential factors, from which a model was developed predicting which farmers are likely to act after the CPD has been undertaken. Cluster analysis was applied to determine two overarching types of farmers: those undertaking 'Dynamic CPD' and 'Occasional CPD', which sub-divided into four distinct types: Progressive Professionals, Secure Socialisers, Change Followers and Change Resistant. Each type has homogeneous CPD patterns associated with farm and personal characteristics. Subsequently, the Farm Business Survey (FBS) containing large, national data sets was used to test the inferences drawn from the previous part of the research, and answer questions that could not have been addressed by using the VTS survey alone. The influential factors that have been identified include the farmer's level of education, attributes of the farmer's approach to management information, features of the CPD undertaken, and farm characteristics, all as linked to patterns of CPD. It is concluded that farmers have CPD inputs comparable to other professions, although initially farmers underestimate their CPD activity. The farmers who are most active in CPD take action and apply CPD when making changes to their business. Typically, these farmers have a high education level, are from large or intensive farms and their business is involved in discussion groups and benchmarking. This research recognises the distinction between CPD as a management process and a training programme as an event. The reported outcomes and their implications for the farming industry provides a sound basis for discussion and development of the thinking on CPD for farmers and all those involved in farmers' CPD.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available