The subject of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) can sometimes be viewed as an onerous requirement by both construction professionals and their employers, but Rhodes and Partners Technical Director Peter Graham argues both parties can gain from the process.
There’s no doubt that the CPD process is a prominent consideration for today’s architects and many other construction professionals. It has many positive values, not the least of which is helping people keep their professional skills up to date. Despite this, many people view the CPD process as a burden and only comply with its requirements reluctantly. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By injecting a little commitment and imagination into the process, employers can transform the CPD process into something which is not only attractive to their staff, but also practical, informative and enjoyable.
THE CPD EVENT
If the employer takes care to properly structure the CPD opportunities it provides, both junior and senior staff will know that their employer is keen to ensure that they are armed with the skills they need to handle their day-to-day work. While CPD events help to build technical knowledge and confidence among younger staff, in today’s ever-changing world there is also much that can be learned by more senior people. They also help ensure that employees at all levels across the company are working to consistent standards.
CPD events can prove to be a valuable aid to career progression, and also help employees maintain their professional qualifications. A properly thought-out CPD event should also provoke discussion and debate among the attendees. Providing this sort of open forum in which different approaches and new ideas can be discussed freely can go a long way towards promoting a sense of engagement and partnership among employees.
It makes sense then that employers should seek out opportunities to maximise the effectiveness of any CPD events they organise. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task, and a few simple steps can go a long way towards this objective. Scheduling the subject matter of CPD events to coincide with specific projects which staff are currently handling can be one way to achieve this. Our own experience has shown that timing a CPD event on planning issues to coincide with a current major redevelopment project we worked on created a natural link between the CPD content and our day-to-day work which people found both interesting and useful.
We have also found that this approach often prompts our staff to suggest topics and content for future CPD subjects which are directly relevant to their work. Linking the CPD subject matter to the everyday workload really does help to eliminate any ‘CPD resistance’ which staff may hold if they feel obliged to attend simply to maintain their annual attendance record.
There’s no doubt that holding CPD events where properly accredited content is delivered by an external specialist is an excellent way to maintain the knowledge and skills-base of your employees, but there are other ways for the employers to boost this process. Looking again at our own experience, we have found that supporting these events with ‘internal CPD’ sessions where our staff are given the chance to pass on their knowledge and experience to their colleagues can be very valuable. Although they obviously don’t carry any external accreditation, these sessions can add extra interest and information to a topic covered in an official CPD, and they also provide an additional way for staff to engage with the whole training and development process.
These sessions can be particularly helpful in changing the view of more senior staff who may have become over-familiar with the CPD process, and asking them to deliver an internal session in support of an official CPD can go a long way in reversing any negative attitudes they may have. The wealth of knowledge and experience they hold can represent a very valuable resource for the company which often goes untapped, but more senior people are often only too pleased to have their expertise acknowledged and pass on their knowledge and experience to their more junior colleagues.
Using this type of knowledge transfer as a logical extension of the accredited CPD process is a strategy we use ourselves to great effect. People are frequently only too happy to share their expertise with their colleagues, and in the process, they come to view the CPD subject in a different light, using it as a way to extend the knowledge of their team beyond the specific areas which they cover in their day-to-day work.
The benefits of the CPD process for employees can also extend into the future. It enables employees to remain competitive in their profession, and can certainly help their career progression by providing a valuable way of standing out amongst their colleagues. It can also pay dividends for the employer by helping them to prove the value of their current staff, and this can be extremely helpful in the process of prospecting for new work in the future.