How a professional develops over the span of their career is not straight forward nor an easy process to define. It is highly individualized and variable over time. At the CSC Collaborative, we often refer to it as a ‘moving target’. To wrap one’s head around what career span competence, or continuing professional development, means, we find driving a car useful analogy.
To drive a car, one must first obtain a license. To obtain a license one must pass a standardized driver's test – everyone is expected to do and pass the exact same test to get the same type of driver’s license. However, the type of driver one becomes over the coming months and many years of driving is unique to each individual. Some skills and knowledge that one needs to get a license may deteriorate over time because one simply does not apply them (think: parallel parking!). Some skills may significantly improve, beyond what was demonstrated during the driver’s test, because they are applied on a regular basis. Some may opt to pursue more specialized driving designations (e.g. school bus, transport truck). So, one's driving skill set will change over time, and likely be very different from what one knew and was able to do at the time of that license exam. It may also look quite different from others who got their license at the same time.
Interestingly, although we need that initial standardized test to get a license, it actually has little to do with the type of drivers we become!
Career span development is quite similar to this process – one enters a profession with a broad range of skills and knowledge. That will not be maintained over one’s career, nor should it be! It will develop and evolve based on areas of work, interest, mastery, and skills required within the individual’s work or practice context. So career-span competence is quite different from what is required at entry into a profession! And this is the aspect we aim to capture through the CSC Approach.