Comment – CPD or not CPD…

Is IDE CPD all it’s cracked up to be?

In November 2012, on the eve of his appointment as Institute of Demolition Engineers’ president, Steve Jack afforded DemolitionNews an exclusive video interview during which he laid out his hopes and ambitions for his presidency. During the course of that interview, Jack said that one of the key tenets of his reign would be to reinforce the IDE’s commitment to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). And, to this end, he would make it a personal goal to increase the number of regional meetings at which IDE members could earn their much-needed CPD points.

True to his word, Jack has carried through on his promise. And earlier today, I attended a south east regional meeting hosted by Jack himself. And what a flimsy, barren and insubstantial affair it was.

Done and dusted in a little over an hour, the “meeting” consisted of three back-to-back sales pitches from three equipment manufacturers and suppliers. No meeting; no interaction; no education; and, above all, no professional development. This was not a fault of the manufacturers, however. They did precisely as asked; they came along and they showed their wares. That, to my mind, does not constitute CPD.

As a freelance journalist, I neither want nor need CPD points. Regardless, I didn’t sign the register of attendees to ensure that I didn’t receive CPD points off the back of such an ineffectual and forgettable meeting.

If, by some fluke, I DO receive them, I fully intend to send them back. Moereover, if I had paid to attend this meeting, I would be demanding my money back. Thankfully though, I didn’t. Or did I?

Well, I had to leave the office a good three hours earlier than I would under normal circumstances. In addition, I had to drive half-way around London to get to the meeting before heading back in the opposite direction just over an hour later. So that’s nearly four hours of time and money plus half a tank of petrol that I won’t be getting back any time soon.

And what did I learn from all of this? What nugget of insight did I glean? What gem of innovation and invention can I take forward with me for my own professional development? Well, I can tell you that, in addition to turning out some pretty fine excavators, Liebherr has a vineyard producing a wine that I am unable to buy.

Make no mistake. CPD is a worthwhile and a worthy initiative. And the IDE under past presidents Terry Quarmby and John Woodward were fully justified in ejecting members that failed to maintain their CPD points.

But IDE members deserve way better than this. IDE members are engineers; professional people whose time is precious; professionals who should not pay for the privilege of attending an hour long equipment sales pitch. Dragging them from the site of office for such paltry fare is, at best, self-defeating. At worst, it casts serious doubts over the future of IDE regional meetings and the validity of the CPD points they provide.

The next IDE regional meeting is scheduled to take place in Scotland in June. I only hope that the programme for that event is more in keeping with the professional standing of its delegates.