Matt Colton is a Trustee for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and wrote the following article for New Civil Engineer magazine. In the article he articulates how the ICE and the engineering profession use Continuous Professional Development to reassure the public. Noting that as a professional engineers recognise the need for greater professional accountability. How do engineers assure society so that postnominal professional qualifications are current, credible and competent? There are different views about how best to satisfy that need, but the engineering profession needs to continually improve.
For those who have access to New Civil Engineer Magazine the article is :
The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 was a notable modern disaster. Fire spread the height of the building rapidly, claiming the lives of many and impacting many more. With 72 deaths, this was the largest domestic loss of life since the Second World War.
The fallout from this disaster continues to reverberate today. There have been many questions asked since – how did it happen? Could it have been prevented? How do we ensure nothing like that happens again?
In 2022, the government introduced the Building Safety Act, setting out statutory standards for some engineers working in high risk buildings. The ICE felt that assuring society that all its engineers are competent was an important step. Through ensuring greater accountability, we hope to provide a sense of safety within society. Using prescribed continuing professional development (CPD) is the method to achieve this.
Moving towards prescribing CPD is a significant change. The profession has moved from compulsory CPD through mandated recording to recommending prescribed CPD for professionally qualified members in just five years. This speed of change could be unsettling for some who recognise the need for greater professional accountability but have different views about how best to satisfy that need. That is why the Institution is undertaking a member-led consultation.
How is the Institution best able to assure society that postnominal professional qualifications are current, credible and competent?
The Trustees want members to engage and share their thoughts. How is the Institution best able to assure society that postnominal professional qualifications are current, credible and competent? We will not present the solution but will ask you for your thoughts to help us reach a programme of real utility. It is imperative that any change to CPD policy is promoted, discussed, considered and adjusted accordingly. The Institution’s role is to provide members with what they need, not want. Our strength is in harnessing the profound, impartial wisdom and intellect of our 95,000 members.
We know our members conduct regular and in depth CPD but that does not mean that we have minimised the risk of catastrophic failure. If we cannot clearly demonstrate this, we risk having the competence of the Institution and those holding its qualifications called into question.
Longer term, Trustees will consider why, if other professionals such as doctors conduct periodic career reviews, engineers do not. There are several options: we could keep the status quo; impose regular professional reviews; or there might be a halfway house.
The prescribed-CPD consultation begins with an exploratory phase in April. There will be a range of webinars, regional events and online debates. I encourage you to promote the importance of professional qualifications and associated through life professional commitment to CPD. It is through focused CPD that practising engineers can demonstrate the competence that in turn assures society that we are fit to provide the infrastructure on which the world depends.
- Matt Colton is the ICE’s Trustee for membership