IMCA’s head of communications Achilleas Georgiou explains why continuous professional development proved a popular topic at the organisation’s recent annual seminar
Few in any industry would argue against continuous professional development (CPD). As well as giving employees new skills, it is an important component for fuelling company growth.
The significance of CPD was a central feature of the two technical sessions at IMCA’s annual seminar. Presenters and delegates in the marine session discussed how to encourage seafarers to participate in CPD, while in the diving session, discussion focussed on how best to maintain the technical knowledge of diving supervisors.
CPD, delegates were told, is the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge, understanding, person qualities and skills throughout the individual’s working life.
Professor John Chudley of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) eloquently explained that CPD can take many forms: “[These include] informal learning through working life and interaction with other people and structured activities such as courses, distance learning programmes, private study, preparation of papers and presentations, mentoring, involvement in professional body activities, reading, volunteering or attending seminars.
“Any activity that you have found valuable in maintaining and enhancing your competence can be considered as contributing to your CPD,” he added.
Mr Chudley also pointed out that, as more people become professionally qualified with similar qualifications, CPD becomes more important as a means of separating yourself from the pack.
In January 2019 recording CPD will be mandatory for Engineering Council registrants and by January 2020, professional engineering institutes, like IMarEST, will remove registrants who persistently do not respond to, or engage with, requests for CPD records.
A presentation for diving supervisors by IMCA’s diving technical advisor Peter Sieniewicz, also considered the importance of CPD, and the fact that it is now becoming obligatory across many organisations.
He said: “Having qualified, there is currently no requirement for supervisors to maintain their technical knowledge or to keep up-to-date with changes in IMCA’s guidance and industry best practice.”
But change is afoot. By the end of 2020, IMCA intends to introduce an annual update programme as part of a diving supervisor’s CPD. This will include safety-critical components, with assessment questions that will block the candidate from progressing through the topic until knowledge of the material is demonstrated. New material will be added quarterly; to become or remain current, supervisors for the following year must complete all four quarters of material for the previous year.
The diving supervisor CPD scheme will consist of four components:
- Update on newly published guidance
- Relevant Safety Flashes
- Relevant Information Notes
- Refresher on safety-critical guidance.
The scheme will also enable IMCA to identify all currently active supervisors and contact them if required.
A poll undertaken at the seminar showed that 96% felt that diving supervisors should be required to participate in an annual update programme as a form of CPD.
For seafarers, i-Tech7/Subsea 7 technical training manager Steve Benzie, who chairs IMCA’s Competence & Training Committee, demonstrated how i-Tech7’s online app provides its offshore workforce with access to CPD materials. He demonstrated to delegates the technical library, internal and external resources, regulatory resources, company information and the portal for learning and development.
From the marine session discussions, IMCA will assess how it can encourage seafarers to participate in CPD and whether it needs to revise its existing guidelines, including Training and Experience of Key DP Personnel (M117).