Continuing professional development policy

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) after essential training allows individuals to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Wellcome-funded researchers must either have completed or have a plan to complete the training that is appropriate for their role and the specific tasks they undertake. In addition to this, CPD should be integrated into all roles to allow people to grow to their full potential.

This policy was last updated in August 2022.

Wellcome is a signatory to the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and we expect all UK organisations we fund to implement its obligations. Anyone with Wellcome funding who is based outside the UK is expected, at a minimum, to follow the principles of the Concordat.

Continuing professional development is good for research because it:

  • strengthens researchers
  • ensures the integrity and quality of research
  • improves the research environment.

Everyone working on research has a responsibility to engage with and undertake CPD. Managers of staff also have a responsibility to allow and encourage their staff to do so. This applies in all research settings, including HEIs, research institutes, the NHS or other health care providers, Local Authorities, not for profit or commercial organisations. The Concordat mandates a minimum of ten days of CPD pro-rata per year.

In this policy “researchers” means Wellcome-funded:

  • lead applicants
  • coapplicants
  • staff employed on awards, including technical experts and technicians

Project-specific skills training 

Project-specific skills are defined as those required to complete the technical aspects of a project.

Applicants can ask for funding to cover any project-specific skills training researchers need for the project in their grant application. This could include (and is not limited to) animal handling, scientific equipment training, microscopy, language training and specific data analysis techniques.

Costs can be requested for:

  • the lead applicant and coapplicants
  • staff employed in a post of 12 months duration or more, and
  • working on the grant for at least 50% full time equivalent.

Costs will need to be justified in the application.

The time allocated for project-specific skills training must be in addition to the 10 days annual continual professional development time.

Career-based continual professional development 

In addition to project-specific skills, researchers should be supported to obtain broader skills to allow them to develop as a research professional. People learn in different ways and CPD can be formal or informal, guided or self-directed. CPD can be (but is not limited to) courses, e-learning, coaching, action learning sets and time for reflection.

Research staff should have access to a range of CPD that will cover many topics and as a minimum should include/cover:

  • the responsible conduct of research: the skills necessary for good research practice including record keeping, research design and analysis, sharing research outputs, data management and data protection - organisations should draw on the principles of the UK Concordat on Research Integrity where appropriate, and/or the International Singapore Statement on Research Integrity when designing these programmes.
  • guidance on how people at all career stages can support or create a diverse, inclusive and positive environment, including the management of bullying and harassment when it occurs, wellbeing and mental health.
  • leadership and management training, and mentorship as appropriate for current role and planned career trajectory.
  • profession-specific skills retention: the practice, knowledge and time necessary to maintain and improve the skills required by your profession, for example clinicians who need to practise a certain number of hours to retain registration - we will not pay for this training (other than the time needed to do it). The cost of belonging to professional bodies/organisations is not included.

We expect organisations to provide and fund career-based CPD.

If a Wellcome-funded researcher’s development needs cannot be met by organisational provision, or the quality is inadequate they should be supported to access external CPD. In this case, applicants can ask for up to £500 p.a. for themselves and each member of staff employed on the grant. Costs need to be justified in the application.

Funds for career-based CPD may only be requested on the award for:

  • lead applicants and coapplicants
  • staff employed in a post of 12 months duration or more only and
  • working on Wellcome funded awards for at least 50% full time equivalent.

The funding should only be used for the research team working on the award. It should not be paid into a generalised central fund that supports CPD across the organisation. However, where standard course attendance fees are requested from all participants, these may be paid from an award.

Current grantholders can use their existing funds towards these external CPD costs. They don’t need to ask Wellcome to do this. We will not supplement for this cost.

What we expect of researchers funded on our grants 

We expect people funded on our grants to:

  • complete induction and regular refresher training.
  • take responsibility for undertaking CPD regardless of their career stage.
  • keep up to date with changes in legislation, regulations and practice relevant to their work.
  • complete the appropriate leadership and development training to support and develop their team, where they are leaders/managers.
  • where they are leaders/managers, provide support to their research team through:
    • mentorship
    • promoting and giving their team time for opportunities for their training and professional development,
    • building time for this into research plans from application stage.

We encourage researchers to take opportunities to develop as a potential leader in research, for example through mentoring (giving and receiving), network building, or volunteering in partner organisations in the private, public or civil society sectors (this could count towards the ten days of CPD but costs arising from it cannot be charged to the award).

What we expect of organisations who hold our grants 

Organisations must support continuing professional development of all Wellcome-funded researchers by:

  • Providing and funding CPD opportunities.
  • Giving them 10 days a year (pro-rata if part time) to undertake CPD, in addition to project-specific skills training.
  • Encouraging researchers to build time for CPD into research plans from application stage.
  • Actively promoting CPD as important and valuable within the organisation.
  • Providing mandatory training on the handling of bullying and harassment or research misconduct investigations, including appeals, to panel members involved in such investigations.
  • Providing a system of onboarding, embedding and career planning when new starters join the organisation.
  • Assessing professional and career development needs through an annual performance review process.
  • Actively monitoring the uptake and effectiveness of CPD and training activities at both a participant and organisational level.

CPD should be tailored to meet need within an organisation and aligned to any relevant national guidance. In the UK, these are the:

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