Our History & Foundations

Forty years or so ago very few people had heard of CPD (Continuing Professional Development). In the early 80’s, some professional bodies – for example the Chartered Accountants Institute, Law Society and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – imposed an obligation on their qualified members to carry out formal post-qualification study known as CPD.

A new era began, where professionals were mandated to undertake a range of CPD per annum, and failure to comply could lead to expulsion from their institute.


Despite the CPD policies encouraging regular learning and CPD, professionals found it difficult to comply with these obligations due to a lack of flexible learning options and a busy schedule. There was a clear mismatch between the members’ obligations and their ability to comply.

Jonathan Harris CBE FInstCPD

It all began in 1981…

That’s when Jonathan Harris CBE pioneered an idea, the opportunity for individuals to improve their skills, work and professional practice by committing to Continuing Professional Development (CPD).   

Having spent a lengthy career within the property and surveying fields, and as President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Jonathan had extensive experience in the importance of further education and lifelong learning.

Initially founding the Continuing Professional Development Foundation Lecture Programme, he provided busy property and surveying professionals the opportunity to undertake lectures and seminars at low cost but as high quality, relevant learning experiences.

Since then, it has been extremely successful and today thousands attend the lectures or watch them online.

Now renamed The Harris Foundation For Lifelong Learning it has evolved to offer life skills, inclusive and collaborative educational opportunities to people from all walks of life, growing into a legacy that will support lifelong learning across the UK for years to come.

Establishing The Institute of CPD

In 1995, Jonathan went on to found the Institute of CPD. This was an advancement of the CPD Foundation and was not confined to the property and surveying sector. Supported by his trustees (see below), the Institute’s mission was to welcome individuals from all sectors, age groups and qualification levels. 

It provided a much needed space, and opportunities for individuals from all professional backgrounds, to commit to undertaking formal CPD. Membership with this new Institute enabled people to publicly demonstrate their beliefs and philosophy for keeping up to date and thirst for continuously improving and honing their skills and knowledge.

Today, there are three membership levels – Achiever, Member and Fellow – click here to find out more

It is my firm belief that if you go over and above with your professional development, then you should be recognised

“When the ICPD was first set up there was a clear need and plenty of enthusiasm. Today, I believe a focus on learning is more important than ever. The world of work is changing at an astonishing pace and it is vital that each of us stays up to date.

The Institute itself was formed in 1995, however the seeds of the idea came earlier. By the mid-eighties, professional bodies in the UK had started asking their members to complete a minimum amount of training and development each year – what we now call ‘CPD’ or continuing professional development.

At the time, there were limited opportunities for professionals to actually complete that training. So, I began exploring the idea of an educational charitable trust to provide affordable lectures for professionals – from chartered surveyors, such as myself, to lawyers and accountants. This evolved into the Harris Foundation for Lifelong Learning, as it is called today. The lecture series was very successful – thousands were attending.

There was a clear appetite for CPD. At the same time, it was evident that a number of people were completing more than their minimum amount of CPD hours. Surely, they deserved to be rewarded in some way. So it was that the Institute of Continuing Professional Development was created.


Today, the ICPD has broadened its scope so that anyone who wants to show their commitment to professional development can be rewarded. This concept is relevant to all of us, at any age and from any background. As we journey along our career paths, there are many compelling reasons to focus on CPD. To have people in our society that are constantly learning and improving is in everybody’s interest.

It is always reassuring to know that the person you are doing business with is up to speed with the very latest developments in their field. And, ultimately, it helps to keep our society safe. Being committed to CPD also offers a point of difference for the individual. Members of the ICPD can go to a manager or prospective employer and prove that they have the latest skills. They can prove their passion for the job, and this helps to build trust.”

Jonathan Harris CBE, Founder of the Institute of Continuing Professional Development

Partnership with the CPD Standards Office

In 2021, the Institute of CPD joined forces with the CPD Standards Office, the leading CPD accreditation service, to offer positive, accessible and successful CPD experiences to the Institute’s members. Together, they are helping individuals advance their careers by offering high-quality training and valuable formal recognition of their commitment and achievements.

Trustees of the Institute of CPD


The trustees of the Institute of CPD are listed below, all of whom have a passion for further education and are keen that the legacy of lifelong learning lives on. 


Jonathan Harris CBE

Sir Denis Pereira Gray Kt OBE

Vivien King

Lord Bichard of Nailsworth KCB

Dame Gillian Guy DBE 


Previous Trustees have been Sir Leonard Peach and Sir Brian Hill who are since deceased. 

Changing the World for the Better


Knowing that learning is a gift, and not all individuals have the same access to continual learning, 25% of all membership fees from the Institute of CPD goes back to the Harris Foundation for Lifelong Learning. The initial vision of accessible CPD for professionals, has now evolved into a legacy of support for lifelong learning across the UK. To this day, Jonathan is the chair and a strong advocate for ongoing education and CPD.