Richard Evans is the Chairman of the CIPHE’s Education and Training Group. In this issue of ETM he muses on the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is even more important now as the country begins to tackle its
skills gaps and shortages, plus the continuing low levels of productivity in manufacturing and industrial activity. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering has recently published a timely and excellent charter on CPD. The CIPHE have set an excellent example and lead the way for other professional bodies, employers and education and training organisations on this critically important topic.

CPD has often been identified as an essential part of lifelong learning but too often was marginalised by employers during times of financial recession and austerity when it should have been a priority.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is defined as: ‘the purposeful maintenance and improvement of your knowledge, skills and competence to carry out your professional role throughout your working life’. In other words CPD is any activity which enhances an individual’s professional practice and encompasses formal, informal, course based, work based, individual and collaborative learning.


CPD has several purposes and takes account of training needs and career progression. It can also take a variety of forms including: studying technical literature; attending events such as seminars, conferences and exhibitions; viewing technical webinars/YouTube videos and attending manufacturers’ technical presentations. In addition, CPD can be supplemented by structured activities such as distance learning programmes, e-learning, preparation of papers and presentations, mentoring, involvement in CIPHE activities, or other relevant voluntary work.

Formal off-job training is only a part of CPD. Most learning actually takes place not through attending training courses, but through the work people do and the range of experiences they have.

Gaining qualifications is not enough – individuals need to be competent, and possess the necessary skills to keep up-to-date with new developments in the changing world of education and training, as well as in their specialist subject.

• ‘Competence’ – the ability to perform a particular activity to a prescribed level.

• ‘Skill’ – facility gained by practice or knowledge.

Background and Issues

During these uncertain times resulting from the ongoing global financial crisis, many countries are having to carry out fundamental reviews of their economies in order to reconfigure and strengthen their economies and to reduce their debts and balance of payments. This coupled with all the consequences of the rapid transitions and transformations occurring because of globalism e.g. out sourcing, such reviews are assuming top priority. The advent of robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, information creation is transforming both society and work. After completing the necessary reviews and reforms in order to rebalance this country’s economy, the one most important element that must be addressed is the human resources involved in revenue creation i.e. the workers.

Employers must recognise the importance of employee development and make a sustained and adequate investment by providing comprehensive programmes to improve their skills at all levels including specialist, general and transferable.

This is why I welcome the CIPHE initiatve. Whatever strategies that are inevitably implemented one essential feature must be a total commitment to CPD. Too often lip service is paid by employers and politicians about CPD. If one is committed to improving efficiency, productivity, competiveness and economic health, then employers supported by government, must adopt a long term and sustained strategy. Employees must be supported in a number of ways whether financially, time off to study and a sympathetic understanding and full recognition of the consequences for the employee involved in such activities.

Policies must be consistent across companies, particularly in the public services. There are instances where different government departments and ministries operate different policies, especially in the financial support they provide to their employees. In this regard the example set by the government and professional bodies is pivotal.

One important element of an individual’s CPD programme is the maintenance of a professional portfolio. The portfolio supports the CPD activities in a number of crucial ways including:

• Serves as personal record of development

• Supports self-evaluation of professional competence

• Assists in personal development planning

• Presents illustrations of skills and abilities

• Demonstrates attainment of competences e.g. personal and business

• Provides invaluable support and evidence for professional reviews i.e. staff appraisals

• Provides a basis for discussion with key colleagues

• Assists in recording activities which may lead to accreditation at an institutional or individual level

Another key element in CPD and maintaining a portfolio is the development of critical self reflection, as reflecting on and learning from experiences will assist individuals to become better workers. This will strengthen the need for individuals taking ownership of their learning.


The CIPHE commitment reinforces the importance of CPD and its obligation in the plumbing and heating engineering disciplines.

As a Professional Engineering Institute the CIPHE supports the CPD Code adopted by the Engineering Council for its registrants but believes that all individuals within the water industry, construction industry and built environment sector should undertake CPD.

Adoption of a CPD commitment which is not exclusive to the CIPHE stresses the benefits of CPD and career progression. The purpose of CPD is to increase public perception and increase confidence in professionals they appoint. It will also ensure that skills based on agreed competency requirements are supported and met by industry.

The public will benefit directly by the workforce being upskilled on a regular basis and as a result will have greater confidence in the professional competence of tradespeople.

The CPD commitment obligates an individual to:

i. Agree to invest in skills throughout their career through lifelong learning

ii. Support career progression by carrying out and recording 30 hours CPD each year

iii. Participate in a minimum of 10 hours ‘compliance’ accredited training programmes

iv. Share knowledge and expertise with others

v. Monitor, evaluate and reflect on CPD (via mycareerpath) (1)

There are many ways in which individuals can achieve CPD, including attending training courses, seminars and exhibitions, from mentoring employees and apprentices to reading industry publications. The CIPHE recommends that individuals should obtain 30 CPD hours per year under the following activities and provides guidance on maximum hours to be obtained under each. This guidance can be used to help you to complete your CPD record.

Below are examples of what constitutes CPD:

Training Courses and Workshops

Training courses that are specific to developing your plumbing and heating knowledge and skills are eligible for CPD. Distance learning training is also acceptable.

Evidence required: A copy of a signed certificate.

Conferences and Seminars/Lectures

The following are eligible for CPD:

Conferences and seminars organised by the CIPHE

Conferences and seminars organised by other industry related organisations

Individuals who are involved in the delivery of seminars and lectures can also claim CPD hours for both the preparation and delivery of the presentations.

Attending Exhibitions

It is recognised that attendance of industry related exhibitions counts towards an individual’s development and attending such exhibitions qualifies as CPD.

Technical Writing

The writing of published technical articles, papers, journals and books can qualify as CPD.


Supporting apprentices and the following activities are eligible for CPD:

Mentoring apprentices and trainees

Part time teaching/lecturing by non- academics

Private study

Private study as to learn new skills and/ or improving qualifies as CPD including the following:

Online research

Viewing Techtalk Live and other technical videos available through the Internet and YouTube

Reading industry related publications

Completion of CPD articles in industry magazines.

Qualification studies

Industry related and recognised qualifications qualify as CPD including compliance training such as water regulations/byelaws, building regulations and gas and electrical regulations.

Monitoring CPD

mycareerpath® is an online professional development system, designed by the Engineering Council and adopted by many professional engineering institutions for use by their members. The system is mobile and tablet compatible, so records can be accessed or added to on-the-go.

The system is aligned with the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) for EngTech, IEng, and CEng. Progress can be measured and tracked against the competence statements for the chosen registration category.

(1) mycareerpath is designed to help individuals to plan and record any activity that contributes to professional competence. Using mycareerpath puts your complete records in one place so that they can be simply and easily passed on to your employer or to prospective clients.

For further information on the CPD commitment and monitoring provisions please contact Marie McCaffrey on

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