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Continuing professional development for engineers


The importance of CPD

Engineers have traditionally become qualified by a combination of academic award and practical training, followed by experience in the workplace. Their initial education and training have been seen as formation on which they build their skills, knowledge and understanding through continuing professional development (CPD). In the past the main emphasis has been on the formation stage, with CPD often being regarded as an optional extra. As we enter the 21st century, with the growth in available knowledge and information, and their globalisation, CPD is becoming more and more recognised as a vital component of lifelong learning.

The basis for registration with EurEta- the European Higher Engineering and Technical Professionals Association - is a formation package submitted by a National Member and approved by the General Assembly. The EurEta Code of Conduct says of registrants: ‘They shall commit themselves to continuing professional development in order to keep up with scientific and technological progress as well as the general development of human society.’

An engineer’s CPD can be in many areas of learning. It can be a way of deepening knowledge of a specialist subject or of extending knowledge to different areas of technology. It can also extend beyond the boundaries of technology into areas such as management, marketing, finance and foreign languages. Throughout an engineer’s career CPD can go in all these directions and more.

Essentially CPD needs to be learner-centred, particularly now as we move towards more flexibility in career patterns and labour-market requirements. Gone are the days when a person could expect to have a job for life. Since however individuals are not totally independent in the new knowledge-based world, but rather interdependent, they need to formulate their CPD in conjunction with colleagues, coaches and mentors, the organisations that employ them and the professional bodies of which they are members.

If engineers are to maintain their employability, whether they work within an organisation or are self-employed, they need to have access to, and guidance about, the learning that is on offer. As well as planning their CPD they also need to be able to record it and ensure its transparency. Like all forms of learning CPD can be both formal and informal. It can be gained through, for example, attending structured courses or learning from day-to-day experience. With the growth of the internet we are seeing more learning opportunities being made available on-line. Measuring and recording CPD are not always simple matters, and professional bodies often disagree about the best way to do this, with some adopting a points system and others favouring a system based on the number of hours of CPD undertaken. The big challenge though is to find effective ways of accurately measuring and recording the actual learning and competence that result from CPD.

The role of EurEta

Provision: The Association is collaborating with other organisations to make available to registrants access to various sources of CPD. A relational database of engineering CPD under various headings will be compiled and in due course the EurEta website will contain password-protected descriptions of all the CPD structures and requirements of National Members, National Members in Development and Supporting Members.

Accreditation and Evaluation: Ways of accrediting and evaluating CPD are being investigated and EurEta is consulting other organisations about developing joint mechanisms for these processes.

Definition and Planning: General guidelines on CPD are being developed by EurEta to enable registrants to plan their careers as effectively as possible. The Association will also assist registrants with more detailed aspects of such planning through a Europe-wide network of CPD co-ordinators.

Recording and Demonstrating: A mechanism to enable registrants to record and demonstrate their CPD in hard-copy form, on diskette and on the internet is a valuable resource, and EurEta recommends that registrants make use of

  • EuroRecord, the European Professional Record of Achievement for the Engineering Industry.

Promotion: EurEta will promote CPD generally and help to make registrants, National Members, National Members in Development and Supporting Members more aware of innovations and developments.

A co-operative approach

In all the areas listed above EurEta will co-operate with other organisations including:

Recommended reading

Engineers committed to CPD as part of their lifelong learning are advised to read SEFI Document No 20, Lifelong Learning in Engineering Education: A Call to Action. This is the initial report of a European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) working group on lifelong learning and continuing education in engineering, copies of which are available from EurEta.

For further information…

about EurEta’s CPD policy, or what the Association offers individuals and organisations, please contact GrahamGuest, EurEta Secretary-General, or see the website at [email protected].

Back to ICPD.


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