Achieving and recording CPD − continuing professional development − has always been seen as more of a burden than a benefit. The ICE is getting tough on those who ignore it, and stresses that it is not the burden that it is seen to be. NCE talks to three engineers who revel in CPD.
Last year ICE Council approved a new strategy for that old bug-bear of the professional civil engineer − continuing professional development (CPD). The new approach focuses on the importance of CPD in maintaining and developing professional competence and standards. It also introduces a CPD monitoring programme − a fundamental change.
For the first time in its history, an annual formal monitoring system is to be implemented, initially among committee, Council and other ICE executives, but rolled out to the wider membership from 2011.
From this year a random 10% sample of the membership will be selected per annum − of this sample 10% will be subjected to a full review. This equates to 1% of the membership.
Members who are audited will need to show CPD documents for the past 12 months. The ICE’s long-term goal is that members will record their CPD online, through the MyICE portal.
“It is not about spending hours filling in forms at the end of the year, rather it is a way to plan your next career step.”
David Lloyd Roach, ICE membership director
“Members should recognise the importance of CPD in demonstrating to their employers and peers their ongoing professional commitment to civil engineering and personal development,” says ICE membership director David Lloyd Roach.
“It is not about spending hours filling in forms at the end of the year, rather it is a way to plan your next career steps and make sure that you are equipped to achieve your goals.
“We are serious about maintaining professional standards and CPD is integral to this. We also want to bring the ICE into line with other organisations to further secure the credibility of an ICE professional qualification membership.”
Beating the burden
But how do members demonstrate their CPD efforts, without the commitment to documenting them becoming a logistical burden?
The ICE believes the physical process of recording CPD should only take two to three hours annually. And in terms of how much CPD is necessary, the recommendation for those working towards professional review is 30 hours.
However, for qualified members the answer is “enough to develop and maintain the professional knowledge, skills and competence that you need”.
CPD can include taking courses, attending events, reading books, and even on the job learning. Here we highlight three engineers who are taking their own, different, approaches.
Richard Larcombe, private consultant
After almost 30 years as a contractor Larcombe moved into vocational education and training, an area in which he now specialises. He consults for high profile clients across the industry.
Larcombe is an ardent advocate of CPD, keeping concise records dating back to his days as a junior engineer. But he says it wasn’t until he applied to become an ICE fellow and was required to provide past records that he truly understood its importance.
“Planning and evaluating for your own progression is just as important as carrying out training,” he says. “If you don’t record your own development, how can you accurately measure your success? CPD is about recognising areas that need development, setting yourself goals and achieving them. Planning, recording and evaluating your CPD allows you to determine your own career path and ensures you are equipped to succeed.”
He says CPD is more important now than ever: “It is important that we demonstrate our commitment to maintaining ompetency and learning new skills.”
Bill Hewlitt, technical director, Costain
Bill Hewlitt has always had a dedicated approach to his own professional development. He spent his gap year with Costain in its marine division and after graduating joined the company as a civil engineer. Over the 15 years he has spent with Costain he has taken full advantage of development opportunities, in particular taking up a secondment at Building Design Partnership where he gained invaluable design experience.
He says CPD is about seeing what is possible and planning a way to get there.
“It’s about taking ownership of your development. Even the best company training scheme will not be tailored exactly to your needs, so you need to plan and shape your development to meet your needs and goals,” he says.”It is certainly my experience that those who are conscientious in this way develop fastest both as employees and as people.”
He stresses that one of the most common misconceptions is that CPD is just about attending courses. “Some of my most valued CPD has come from being given difficult challenges by my colleagues, then supported through delivery of the task,” he says.
“Reading is good, particularly books that force me to think. And there is a huge amount to learn from professional colleagues both in our own companies, supply chains and client bodies.”
According to Hewlitt, aside from personal development, perhaps one of most important aspects of CPD is that as professionals civil engineers lead the industry and set the benchmark for best practice.
“When I look at the engineering works that support our lives I am acutely thankful for the longevity and sound quality of what we have inherited.
“As the professional engineers of today, we owe the same to those who come after us. Knowing what you are doing, in whatever sphere you work, is vital. And that comes from being up-to-date with best practice, engaging in the debate as to what is good and will sustain us, and paying attention to detail. Sitting on my laurels from when I passed my professional review in 1990 will not do this for me.”
Louise Hardy, infrastructure director, Laing O’Rourke
Louise Hardy has had an impressive career, working on projects such as the London Underground upgrade and the 2012 Olympics.
She is currently working within the executive management team at London 2012 delivery partner CLM as infrastructure director.
Hardy says that CPD is important for planning your next career move and making sure you are equipped to achieve it.
“There have been key stages when I know that I have needed new, different or embellished skills to take the next important step in my career. There are many ways to do this, however, it is no longer true that CPD is about training courses and formal learning programmes. There are many elements to CPD including: talking to and gleaning information from more experienced or specialist colleagues; self learning, reading, on-the-job learning, exposure to new work situations, mentoring others, giving presentations or courses, attending ICE lectures or conferences, peer group discussions, participation in committees and panels.”
Hardy believes it is the process of “planning - action - reflection” that is important with CPD.
“As professionals we are expected to undertake this process in the works we carry out and manage, and this should be reflected in the maintenance of our knowledge base, skills and careers. To do so supports the enhancement of the standing and reputation of the civil engineer in society,” she says.
For civil engineers there is the added responsibility to society in general and CPD is integral to the profession in meeting this expectation.
“As civil engineers we must foresee and meet the needs of society. With a constantly changing legal, technical, contractual, economic, political and environmental landscape everyone needs to keep abreast of updates and changes that shape our industry,” says Hardy.