26 Sep The Ins and Outs of CPD
Registered professional engineers (‘RPEQs’) must undertake continuing professional development (‘CPD’) to be eligible for renewal.
The compliance with the CPD requirement is monitored by both a requirement for declaration on renewal and regular audit.
This #understandingBPEQ article outlines both the CPD requirements and audit process.
OVERVIEW OF CPD
Under the Professional Engineers Act 2002 (‘PE Act’), ‘continuing professional development’ is a ‘continuing registration requirement’. For convenience and without delving into the legal details, the term CPD is used in this article.
A core aim of the PE Act is for professional engineering services to be undertaken in a professional and competent way.
The requirement for CPD forms a central pillar to achieving this legislative aim. Put simply, there are legal and professional obligations on RPEQs, under both the PE Act and the Code of Practice, to undertake regular professional learning.
While the concept of CPD is virtually universal across all professions, it is of particular importance to professional engineers. The reasons for this include the risks to the public which may arise from sub-standard engineering and the speed at which engineering develops.
Consistent with this, CPD is a significant professional obligation.
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – A CONTINUING REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT
There are three distinct instances when CPD is considered, being:
- As part of the assessment for initial registration by
the relevant assessment entity;
- Renewal application;
- Audit process.
In relation to the first instance, it is a requirement under the various assessment schemes, that an applicant has achieved a currency of CPD at the time of initial registration.
The second instance, occurs on the annual renewal of registration. In applying for renewal, RPEQ’s must declare if they have completed the required CPD. If they have not, the details of what has been undertaken and the reasons for non-compliance are to be provided. Other relevant information includes what CPD is scheduled or proposed to be undertaken.
The reason why this information is necessary is that, under the PE Act, in deciding an application for renewal, BPEQ must have regard to the extent to which an applicant has satisfied the [CPD].
Where there is non-compliance or (more likely) partial compliance, BPEQ has a range of options depending on the circumstances. It may impose registration conditions or in serious cases can refuse to renew registration.
The third instance when CPD is considered is when audits are undertaken either by assessment entities in relation to their members or by assessment entities on behalf of BPEQ.
The differences in who undertake the audit arises from the PE Act.
As a preliminary observation, while there are two distinct sources of the CPD requirement, and there are some differences in the details of various schemes, the general CPD requirement is 150 hours over three years.
The specific requirements for CPD are determined by whether or not a registrant is registered with an assessment entity for participation in the CPD requirements of an assessment scheme. Note, this concept is different from either initial assessment by an assessment entity or membership with them. It generally aligns with ‘chartered’ status or equivalent.
Put simply, if a registrant is registered with the assessment scheme for CPD, then they must comply with the CPD requirements of that scheme. These will be obtainable from the relevant assessment entity. The assessment entities are:
- Engineers Australia;
- Institution of Chemical Engineers;
- Institution of Fire Engineers;
- Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Queensland Division;
- Professionals Australia;
- Royal Institution of Naval Architects
If a person is not registered with an assessment scheme for CPD, they must comply with the BPEQ’s CPD requirements which are:
Engineers must undertake a minimum of 150 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over three years to continue to be eligible for registration. BPEQ has aligned its CPD requirements with those of the approved assessment entities.
CPD would be expected to include a combination of activities such as:
- Formal education and training (courses/lectures);
- Informal learning activities (eg. reading journals and manuals);
- Conferences and meetings;
- Presentations and papers;
- Service activities (eg.CPD auditor and reviewing technical papers); and
- Industry Involvement (for academics).
RPEQs are expected to record their CPD hours and demonstrate to BPEQ they have met the requirement of 150 hours of CPD over three years.
As a few general observations, there is a degree of flexibility for both the content and the manner in which registrants can undertake CPD. However, the requirements distil to the CPD activities undertaken, individually and collectively, being of substance and meaningful in the development of engineering knowledge and skills.
In addition to registrant’s declarations at the time of renewal, regular audits are undertaken both by BPEQ and assessment entities.
The objective is for all RPEQ’s to have their CPD audited at least once every seven years.
As outlined above, the responsible entity depends on whether a registrant is or is not registered with an assessment entity for CPD.
If they are registered for CPD, the assessment entity will undertake regular audits as part of their management of the scheme.
If they are not registered for CPD, BPEQ will facilitate audits, using a combination of risk assessment and random selection. Of note, where BPEQ undertakes audits, it will generally engage an assessment entity to undertake the audits on the its behalf.
Where audits are undertaken, BPEQ will receive a report in relation to the audit and where indicated, will consider CPD non-compliance.