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CPD for retired registrants
Andy Millar
1784 Posts
Question
Hi,

This old chestnut came up yet again at our LN AGM yesterday, I just wondered if anyone - including CPD assessors - had any good suggestions of likely but perhaps not obvious CPD activities that retired members should consider claiming if asked?

The chap who started the discussion does voluntary work refurbishing old pieces of equipment for a heritage railway - which often involves him having to work out how they are supposed to work first! - and also edits a local classic car club newsletter. I assured him that he at least wouldn't have a problem! But it's interesting that he felt concerned enough to ask.

Cheers,

Andy    
11 Replies
Andy,
The mantra I have always heard at various IET sessions is that the requirement for non-active registrants is 10 hours as opposed to 30 hours for an active registrant, and that this can be achieved by reading the magazine (presumably every issue cover to cover), but this has always seemed to me to be a bit of a cop-out. After all, if someone takes a ten year break and is non-active but maintains 10 hours a year of CPD just reading the magazine, would you expect them to be fully up to date if they then return to the industry at the end of that period? However that is a separate issue from your question.
There are a number of areas that retired registrants can participate such as local meetings, some of which are aimed at retired people (for instance my most local meetings are held each month on a Wednesday morning at 10.30 so I have never managed to attend,which is a pity as they often seem to have the most interesting talks). There is also the opportunity of voluntary roles within the IET, something I have certainly found rewarding. Of course volunteering does not need to be with the IET but can be with other groups - a friend of mine who is not actually a registered engineer (while he studied electrical engineering he then became a BA pilot) is a volunteer with the Bluebell Railway which would also be a good option.
I am sure others will post even better suggestions than mine which have been put together in a brief respite during a tea break.
Alasdair
PS Edit: Just noticed the words in your post of 'non-obvious'. One I would put in that category is something both my wife and an ex-colleague do in different locations, which is voluntary work with a local 'good neighbours' scheme. These are where volunteers provide transport for old/disabled persons to attend things like doctors appointments, hairdressers, etc. The ex-colleague does his local scheme management and actually operates it at a profit due to a grant from the local council, despite paying the volunteer drivers expenses at 45p/mile. (My wife is not registered, but my ex-colleague is!)
 
Roy Pemberton
340 Posts
Alasdair, 
the question mention of the Bluebell Railway prompts from me,  and it's possible this has been discussed previously on another thread,  but if so,  I can't quite place it,  is where does the line fall between CPD and leisure activity? 

Is it that it's got to be directly related to engineering activity? Is it that it has to be a volunteering role? But then learning on the job when not retired wouldn't count, so clearly the volunteer element isn't the key criterion. Maybe you just have to be able to demonstrate Joe whatever it is relates to your overall professional capability? 

For instance,  would the fact that I'm learning to fly,  aiming for a private pilot's licence count? Or that I recently started learning Italian? (For the record,  I'm also privately self studying for Cisco CCNA, which is clearly relevant/acceptable).

I'm not trying to rubbish what you've said,  just trying to understand the boundaries. 
Roy,
It very much depends on what it is you are doing in the volunteer role. You also have to remember that the competencies cover more than just the technical aspects of engineering so a governance role or a H&S role can be relevant.
I think that if you can relate it to a UK Spec competence then there is a degree of justification in counting it as contributing to CPD. Learning to fly may have some aspects (are you learning aerodynamics, are there safety issues you are learning, etc.?) but I must admit that learning Italian is a bit of a challenge to relate to CPD.....
I would certainly consider learning to fly as being more useful in terms of CPD than reading some of the articles in the magazine (though not all). However please don't rely on my opinion as being a definitive answer in terms of boundaries. Perhaps the last word on this (at least in this post) should be from UK Spec (note: my highlighting)
CPD can also take a variety of different forms. At its heart is informal learning through the challenges and opportunities of working life, and interaction with others
Alasdair
Roy Bowdler
847 Posts
Let’s set aside for one moment, guidance about hours or content, given by the IET and by other Engineering Council licensed bodies.

The use of a professional title is intended to inform others that you reached a certain standard at a point in time and continue to act under the supervision of your professional institution.  If you are not active to a standard commensurate with that “advertisement”, then it is arguably inappropriate to use the title either to seek employment or take responsibility (paid or voluntary).  However, there is a long tradition of Chartered being treated as a "qualification" and as an “honour” which many registrants feel proud to have earned and like to display when appropriate.  So assuming that they self-regulate and do not misuse the title, there has been no good reason for its removal.

My own personal view of this issue, is that for an inactive registrant, self-regulation is all that is required. Those who are professionally “active” such as Registration and Standards Volunteers should hold themselves to the same standard as an employed engineer, since they are acting as a “peer”.  This is not a competition, so they don’t have to be equally “up to date” or even equally skilled, which is likely to be impractical, but they should be capable of empathising with and exercising valid judgements about, working engineers.  I would take a similar view about those who achieved a registerable standard, before migrating away from working directly as “an engineer”. There are many examples of Chartered Engineers in very senior roles who by their example “give back” rather than draw benefits from registration.  There was a time when some similarly senior IEng or Eng Tech registrants could be found, but unfortunately that has largely died out, I’m sad to say partly in the face of withering snobbery and one-upmanship. 

With increasing use of professional registration as a factor used to help indicate individual and even corporate competence, there is greater need for the IET to exercise “due diligence” in supervising registered members.  I’m sure that many members find the bureaucracy of this irritating and treat it as a “chore” on that basis.  I would personally like to encourage registrants to submit to some form a professional review at intervals of their choosing, perhaps around transitions.  The review should be supportive not punitive.  By educating the market of employers and other relevant stakeholders, they could ask; what were your institution’s comments at your last professional review.

The guidance is here

https://www.theiet.org/career/professional-development/continuing-professional-development/policy-on-cpd/

      

 
Roy Pemberton
340 Posts
Roy, 
I'm in agreement with your overall sentiments and the bulk,  if not all,  of the detail of your post.  I just have one very practical question, though,  as with part of your post,  it's possibly slightly off- topic as it relates to a professionally active Engineer,  whereas this thread is specifically about retired engineers,  however,  I'll go ahead and apologies to anybody who feels it doesn't belong here. 

As you see it,  would I be right to assume that you would anticipate any such professional review for direct employees to be undertaken by a manager or peer within their employer's organisation? If so,  I'm not saying that this is wrong,  but think there are two possible 'health warnings' attached,  firstly that the quality/ adequacy of the review may be highly variable,  secondly that employers may use this as a route to implement other agendas - I've certainly seen a number of such instances. 

However,  my bigger practical question is whether or not there could be the option for the Institute to provide such a service,  either from volunteers,  or even on a paid basis? I ask this as contract workers such as myself have a particular problem with this as,  on the left field,  we have HMRC, who are looking for every opportunity to find evidence of control in order to deem us as disguised employees,  and this is one of the key areas in which they do so - to have a professional review from within your client organisation is seen as a key demonstrator of control lying with the client. For this reason,  I continue to be self- regulating. 

I would happily embrace a professional review with an independent peer if it were available, and wonder if this is one element of support that the Institute could provide. 
Roy Bowdler
847 Posts
Roy,

Good to see you active here again.  I have tried on several occasions to float the idea of a “review service”, with very experienced registration volunteers and senior IET staff.  My idea was a “lite” version of a registration assessment, with a narrative outcome, giving development recommendations. The frame of reference is, to “nurture and support” not “control and police”.  No one I spoke to was hostile, but resources and costs were major concerns. New  registrations are currently going through in large numbers and this must have higher priority.

Returning to my frame of reference it was; how can we serve our members better and enhance the value of their registration? You raise the important issue that employers, especially those who work with the IET are a crucial part of this.  I wasn’t envisaging a link with employer’s mechanisms for employee development and for a someone in stable employment with a good employer, a review by their professional body may be superfluous. Also as an employer I would be very wary of “divided loyalties” or “different priorities”. In its current form our proposition works well for “professional consultancy”, or R&D , but far less well for some other business models. I touched on this in my previous comments about attitudes towards those who are not CEng from within PEIs. I have past experience of my organisation’s highly successful engineers being advised to “move on” if they wanted to get CEng.

If I stick to the main point, which is adding value to Chartered Engineers who are not in a “traditional” long-term employment relationship including those who are “retired” (whatever that means these days); then what can the IET do? Over recent years a series of support packages have been developed for early career Engineers and Technicians, which I hope everyone agrees is a very high priority (the average CEng is nearly 60 years old).  Perhaps the majority of older registrants, see us as handing out prescriptive rules and policing compliance. I would like to creative a different culture, where registration expresses a desire to grow by learning.  This is rather different to “rule following” by accumulating hours etc.

In a sense my idea is that if instead of accumulating hours at lectures (I have plenty by the way), someone can develop a personal portfolio, or ongoing “essay” outlining their competence and professional growth. They then have the option of discussing this with professional peers and getting feedback.  Who could predict or prescribe this chartered engineer professional career path?  https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2019/october/new-serjeant-at-arms/



 
Andy Millar
1784 Posts
But of course what prompted all this was missives from the IET appearing to say that if we couldn't prove CPD on demand we'd be marched into a hollow square and have our swords broken and our buttons cut off! And retired members (and working members!) are feeling rather twitchy about this - which I really don't think (mostly) they need to.

So pulling bits of the above together, is it that retired members are expected to show a nominal 10 hours per year if asked? Which practically is going to be from "leisure" activities for most retired members.

Thanks,

Andy

Andy Millar:
... retired members are expected to show a nominal 10 hours per year if asked? 

I think also the 'if asked' is relevant. I read somewhere on the EC website that PEIs need not include retired registrants in the sample, but typically I can't find it now. However if you read the EC policy for sampling of registrants it specifically states 'Registrants who are not professionally active (e.g. retired or on a career break) may request exemption from a sample'. (https://www.engc.org.uk/engcdocuments/internet/website/CPD%20Policy%20Statement.pdf)
This is not something the IET has ever publicised, possibly intentionally, as I do think that their policy of 10 hours per year is a reasonable target but if during some year a retired member fails to reach that target (which could happen due to a long term hospital visit or similar outside the individual's control) and happens to be targeted in the sampling that year then it does provide a "get out of jail free" card.
Alasdair
Roy Bowdler
847 Posts
The current official position from the website states.

Semi-retired or partially-active members have a reduced target of 10 hours. Members who are no longer professionally active need not undertake any CPD. This may be through retirement (without volunteering), unemployment, employment in a non-engineering capacity, parental leave, long term illness etc. However, we strongly recommend recording CPD to those members who plan to be professionally active within the engineering field in the near future as this would help them become employed within that field again.

We could of course further debate the definitions of  “partially-active” and “no longer professionally active”. Lawyers of the professional and barrack-room variety stand by
😉. Time spent debating the merits of The IET’s CPD policy, recording, reflecting on any “learning points” and preparing for future arguments can of course be legitimately recorded as CPD.  Some people like to learn by exploring ideas and debating with others, some others prefer to quietly absorb information on their own, perhaps carefully analysing.

I would personally much prefer that members are just intellectually curious, open to fresh ideas and willing to learn. There are 90 year olds who exemplify these attributes, more than teenagers.  Many among us often gain a desire to learn after the control and prescription of the formal education system is removed. I would be disappointed with any professional engineer or technician, who only wanted to “learn”  for the purpose of meeting someone else’s rules. I’m also inherently sceptical about learning sold to “meet a requirement” rather than to drive improved performance, but pragmatically an element of “carrot and stick” inevitably comes into it.                 

The issue here may simply be a case of lighthearted banter among local network members, perhaps as an alternative to other subjects like the B word. Using the model of Cashiering offers light relief, to me at least, although it may worry others (I only have an IEng not very shiny “sword”
🙄). Portraying the IET as a “controlling parent” ( https://www.uktransactionalanalysis.co.uk/transactional-analysis/key-concepts/ego-states)  also allows members to “take a pop” at the institution.  I find this admirable and healthy. I understand that some members might turn up to be informed about what the IET has decided, but many would prefer to offer their perspective, or understand that of others “on the ground”.  

Incidentally, I have had dealings with a number of members who have allowed their registration to lapse and been required to make a CPD submission “covering the gap” before being reinstated.  Those who are unenthusiastic about being a registrant but find it necessary, or useful to meet the expectations of their employer, or to enhance their status, are often recalcitrant. Others who are more committed, may understandably be irritated or annoyed initially, since their priority isn’t IET bureaucracy (which includes collecting fees), but actually recognise the importance of the issue and support the principle.            
  

 
Roy,
I fully agree, particularly with the IET 'caveat' of members who plan to be professionally active within the engineering field in the near future as I am sure we would all agree that they need to be up to date with their engineering knowledge. This does leave it open that retired members who have no intention of becoming professionally active again seem to be let off the hook with regard to recording CPD (and, it appears, actually doing any), or am I reading this incorrectly? It would tie in with the EC statement that PEIs do not need to sample retired members. If, as it seems to say, retired members do not need to do any CPD then it would certainly mean that Andy and I have misunderstood who the 10 hour requirement applies to.
Alasdair
Andy Millar
1784 Posts

Roy Bowdler:
Time spent debating the merits of The IET’s CPD policy [...] can of course be legitimately recorded as CPD.

That is possibly the most brilliant answer that has ever been posted on any subject in the history of these forums 😁 That's solved that problem then!

But more seriously, thanks for the nod about the inactive members. This is clearly not well known.

Cheers,

Andy

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