Development support and guidance is vital
ICE membership in the Asia Pacific regions has risen - in Hong Kong ours has increased from 3,813 in 2007 to 5,377 today - a 41% boost. Of the 5,000-strong members here, more than 70% are Chartered status; they subscribe to our missions and see the value of being a member.
In fact, there are many more civil engineers in Hong Kong who would like to join us and this is shown by the increasing number of applicants at the professional reviews. These increases have occurred for several years and in 2014 we had a record number of 380 candidates.
Of course, this number could’ve been even higher with a better professional review pass rate. Hong Kong’s pass rate has been at around 50% in the past few years. When compared to that of the UK it is disappointingly low, necessitating us to look for the causes and take action.
The Hong Kong Review Working Group, formed under the joint auspice of the ICE Professional Review Panel, the Professional Development Panel and the Standards Panel, undertook a review last year and recommended some actions.
These cover the areas of cultural differences, candidates experience, candidates’ guidance and mentoring, sponsors’ inputs, company engagement, and candidates’ effective use of the Development Action Plan contributing to their Continuous Professional Development.
It also looked at compatibility of training approaches across different engineering institutions, the re-sitting protocol and ICE’s membership support in Hong Kong.
I believe several ICE regions in the Asia Pacific, which also have similarly low passing rates, are also facing similar issues.
Issues such as culture differences, training approaches adopted by different engineering institutions, sponsors’ roles and inputs, and company engagement are, by their nature, cultural bound - they will take time to change if they can be changed at all.
On the other hand the preparedness of the candidates and their experience progression through active development plans can be improved by giving them better guidance and mentoring.
We can provide better guidance services to them by improving our membership support locally and this is totally within our control. I honestly believe this is the way to go in Hong Kong.
A Membership Development Officer, which we do not have at the moment, will help to reach out to the many employers in Hong Kong who currently are not training their graduates using ICE’s Company Approved Training Scheme and their graduates will benefit immediately.
Also, the large number of graduates who have not signed up to any training schemes or are not well mentored will also benefit.
I believe it is our duty to give good guidance and support to all graduates in their professional development period when preparing for the professional review.
Our top priority is to make sure the members we admit meet the high standard and the membership numbers will in turn, increase.
- Patrick Chan, is regional director, ICE Hong Kong