Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CPD is the maintenance and enhancement of knowledge, expertise and competence of professionals throughout their careers according to a formulated plan with regards to the needs of the professional, the employer, the profession and society and is identifiably linked to the context of work and/or future career development.

The Board has the following minimum expectations of continuing professional development:

  • Registered social workers maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities in a CPD log/portfolio
  • Registered social workers complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD learning per year
  • Registered social workers undertake CPD activities each year that address identified learning goals and enhance their competence in at least 2 of the SWRB core competences
  • Registered social workers undertake CPD activities in their 5 year competence re-certification cycle that address all SWRB core competences.
  • Registered social workers critically reflect on their CPD learning and the relevance of the learning for their practice
  • Registered social workers utilise a minimum of two different learning activities when undertaking their annual CPD.

The Board offers the following definitions to guide registered social workers as they complete their CPD.

Reflective practice means recounting a past practice example in order to inform future practice. Ethical, theoretical and structural factors impacting upon the practitioner/client system transaction are considered. The practitioner must demonstrate sufficient self-awareness to identify personal assumptions and bias and identify ways in which these were, or could have been, mediated in practice.

Critically reflective practice moves beyond reflection and includes an examination of practice that addresses the practitioner’s own assumptions and the power differentials encountered, taking account of the contextualized and nuanced nature of the environment in which the practice has been undertaken.

Changes to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) logs:

Barbara Gilray, Senior Social Work Professional Advisor to the SWRB outlines some changes to CPD requirements.

CPD is important as it ensures that we continue to remain competent as social work practitioners

As well as helping us to manage our professional development on an ongoing basis, CPD through the process of review and reflection on learned experiences, adds to the body of knowledge and skills that we have as practitioners. CPD should be an ongoing process that continues throughout our social work careers. Most regulatory authorities within Aotearoa New Zealand require their members to evidence CPD in one form or another.

Presuming that the proposed changes to legislation currently before Parliament are approved, the “up front” competence for graduates will no longer be required i.e. Aotearoa New Zealand trained graduates with a recognised social work degree will be deemed to be competent having successfully completed their social work degree.

In addition, the five yearly competence re-certification process (Clause 24 sec 44 in the current Act) which relates to the requirement to re-certify every 5 years will also be removed. I know that the above changes will be welcomed by the majority of registered social workers, and by the sector in general.

The initial registration and competence requirements for overseas trained social workers will remain in their current format for the time being.

The SWRB will shortly be commencing work around international best practice in terms of the ongoing demonstration of competence for registered social workers, and this will be a substantial piece of work. It is hoped that the SWRB will in future align with most other regulatory authorities within Aotearoa New Zealand whereby guidelines for competence are set by the regulatory authority, with a percentage of requirements randomly audited annually.

The SWRB is very mindful of the need to consult widely with the sector before final decisions are made in terms of any substantive changes to CPD requirements.

In the meantime, and until any legislative and requirement modifications are completed, the following changes are being made to CPD logs. The ANZASW has been consulted and are in agreeance with these changes.


Column 4 in the old CPD log “Critical reflection on the relevance of the learning to the SWRB competencies” will be removed and included in column 3 which will become “Critical reflection on the learning and development of practice and relevance to the SWRB competencies”.

Column 5 in the old CPD log will be removed i.e. social work supervisors and/or managers will no longer be required to make feedback and signoff as currently, rather the supervisor and/or manager will sign off and confirm that the RSW has undertaken each years CPD (see example below).

The SWRB trusts that this will assist in stream lining the CPD process until final decisions can be made around any revised processes.

If you are partially through completing your CPD log in the old format, please continue to use this and make the change to the new format as soon as practicable.

There are many different types of CPD. Examples include courses, conferences, workshops, seminars, professional reading, research and mentoring. Activities such as staff or team meetings that are a normal part of the work of a social worker are not considered to be continuing professional development.

Your competence assessment application and full payment needs to be submitted at least four weeks prior to your current competence expiry date.  You can email your competence assessment application in a PDF format to

All competence assessment applications are sent to external assessors on a Friday.  If your competence assessment application and payment is received after 5pm on a Wednesday, it will not be processed until the following week.