How to use professional development for your career

Picture of an employee building blocks
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

4 July 2016

CA Students are continually developing their learning skills and aptitude for problem-solving and self-reflection on a daily basis. 

Our CAs are world-class professionals who are also required to maintain the highest levels of professional competence. Nurturing your skills as a student will be essential for the required and optional professional development available to you as a full CA member.

This includes technical updates as well as personal development such as leadership, digital skills and career development.

All of our members have a range of options available to them, including using their own company’s professional development programme to exercising personal preference in a trusted provider.

Why is professional development important?

Dr John McGurk of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development succinctly summarised why professional development is essential for any industry: "It's about making sure you've got the capability to remain effective. Your field will develop, and if you don't develop alongside it, you'll be left behind."

Career development opportunities also reinforce employee retention – a happy and well-catered for CA is a productive and valued CA! Businesses prize top performers and there is no reason why any of our CA students could not go on to become these leading employees.

Business leaders need to ensure that workers have the right access to education and the skills to remain competitive and productive at all stages of their careers.

Your existing abilities of digesting and applying key facts and methodologies will serve you well in your future career, and it is important to nurture this for future needs.  

A 2016 policy event at the Westminster Employment Forum highlighted skills gap challenges faced by businesses in the coming years. Workplace Insight reported that “business leaders need to ensure that workers have the right access to education and the skills to remain competitive and productive at all stages of their careers.”

Think about where you want your career to go. Where do you see yourself in 10 years, 15 years or more? What do you think your industry or role will require of you?  

You can personally develop through courses such as those that broaden digital skills or improve assertiveness, for example, or you can undertake professional development activities such as specialising in corporate or strategic finance.

For those in a tax role, either in practice or industry, consider supplementing your CA with the ITP qualification. As a CA you’ll be exempt from 4 out of 7 of the assessments. It’s therefore possible to commit to completing the exams within a year, reaching a second professional designation very quickly, and demonstrating your expertise in this area to both clients and prospective employers. Find out more here and watch out for more information on this in future blogs. 

Our future generations of CAs will be operating in a competitive environment, and it’s useful to be flexible and adaptable through the value-adding process of skills development.

Steve Hill, Director of External Engagement at The Open University, recently commented that “businesses can benefit tremendously from the knowledge and experience of their existing employees. Upskilling these individuals ensures that corporate memory remains within the company, whilst also keeping the business relevant and employees engaged.”

He believes this is especially true in digital technologies and cyber security areas as use of technology grows for everyday business.

How do I choose my professional development?

Apart from mandatory technical updates which are extremely important for assuring the competence and quality of our industry, you should choose your professional development opportunities according to:

  • Personal interest
  • Desired outcomes
  • How this connects to your career or role.

Think about developing transferable skills that will be available to you, should you decide to change your career or take aim on a promotion. Pondering a leadership role in the future? Invest some time in developing your manager skills or soft communication skills.

Whatever your plans, development should be in your mind through every stage of your career.

Professional development with ICAS

ICAS offers a wide range of professional development opportunities to help you develop your most valuable skills. Whether it’s a technical course to keep you up-to-date, a full second professional qualification or leadership and management training, ICAS can help.

Find out more about the current resources ICAS offers to help support your professional development when you qualify.


  • Development of the profession
  • ICAS Tax Professional
  • CA Student blog

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