Whether we look at it from the employer’s perspective or the employee’s perspective, the benefits of professional development are not rocket science. And most of the leading names in the industry talk a lot about the value of CPD.
But would you hire a person who just talks the talk? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if it is time for a reality check.
Professional development can often be focused on filling existing knowledge gaps, or on the needs of the company, which you might say is understandable.
But if that is the case, is the development action plan really owned by the individual under mentoring? And are the objectives based only on a lack of performance or transferable skills?
Learning opportunities in terms of formal training are, perhaps, easier to grab compared to opportunities that deliver hands-on experience, and that is where the supervising and delegated civil engineers come in.
In the right hands and with a bit of creativity, the right mix of development opportunities can be created and pursued, such that the company and the individual gain the maximum benefit - the individual is gaining by proving his experience under a certain attribute, while the employer has a more qualified team member.
This type of development plan and support base is vital for those working towards their professional review - and not just to pass the review itself.
While some graduate schemes and other formal training schemes give professionals a head start with initial professional development, other individuals have to rely on self-discipline and making their own luck and opportunities. For some that may be viewed as additional “hassle”, but it is only right that the responsibility lies with us too, and that we each take ownership of our plans. We also all have a responsibility to support Chartered status, and what is behind that, as best we can.
Getting chartered should not be perceived as a route to promotion - that, with dedication and over time, or making a name for yourself in the industry - could eventually come anyway without passing the professional review.
This is concerning.
The principle of lifelong learning sits at the heart of the ICE and its qualification, and there are a number of ICE initiatives progressing.
But what all of us working in the industry need to better understand is that continued professional development makes us the knowledge-rich, innovative profession that we are.
While work to boost the image of civil engineering might prove to be more efficient in attracting new people into the industry, supporting the existing workforce through the right channels - and indeed pushing ourselves - is the key to retaining and harnessing the talent we have now
Find out more about the ICE’s Mentor Match Me scheme at www.ice.mentormatch.me/
- Ramona Mihailescu is senior vice chair of ICE West Midlands Graduates and Students