Why continued professional development is important for the future of the Built Environment

Posted on: 2017-04-05

Guest blog by Stephen Bartle, Head of Commercial and Business Development

It may be a very exciting and innovative time for the Built Environment, but if the sector is to continue its current expansion, as well as economic growth, then an available, talented and engaged workforce is critical. Currently, about one-fifth of all vacancies in the construction industry remain hard to fill because employers cannot find staff with the right skills, qualifications or experience – and the situation is only set to get worse.

Vocational education will be key to ensuring skilled talent continues to enter and develop in all areas of the sector, at a high level, through work-place experience and cutting-edge industry knowledge. However, although apprenticeships and higher education courses are essential for helping individuals join the sector and existing professionals gain further qualifications and promotions, Continued Professional Development (CPD) is also imperative for learning and development that enhances effectiveness in current roles.

CPD helps maintain and enhance existing competencies as well as developing new knowledge and skills. It should not be exclusively about formal courses or qualifications (although these can be a valuable element) but may involve development in both technical and non-technical areas – as well as a wide variety of activities from open learning to work experience.

Benefits for businesses

Organisations progressing and retaining their existing talent through continuously evaluating, refining and improving the workforce can directly affect commercial success – and ultimately solve the skills gap. It means more staff will have up-to-date and relevant skills – valued by the industry – and companies can increase their overall market knowledge, fulfil any business activity, and easily keep abreast with the latest technological developments.

Without engaging in appropriate CPD, the workforce cannot hope to maintain competence let alone develop the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to changing business and client needs, make use of the latest technology and materials, and conform to ever-changing legal and regulatory requirements. Clients want to employ professionals who not only have an up-to-date technical knowledge but also have the management and communication skills to complete a project to the highest standard, on time and within budget. CPD can help develop and maintain all of these.

Furthermore, an organisation can generally end up spending much less on up-skilling and retaining staff, compared to recruiting higher skilled candidates. And educating staff while they continue to work means valuable time isn’t missed waiting for people to be trained.

Benefits for individuals

For individuals, the maintenance and development of necessary knowledge and competence help ensure employability for projects by clients – as well as by employers. CPD can also provide the new skills required to manage staff, develop a business, specialise in certain areas, meet regulatory requirements, use the latest technology, materials and working methods or progress career opportunities.

Furthermore, professional institutions (and similar bodies) often require and/or encourage their members to engage in CPD. But regardless of whether or not an individual is a member of an institution which monitors CPD, a committed professional should see it as the opportunity to develop knowledge and competence for their own personal career development.

CPD is more crucial than ever in our growing and competitive sector. The Built Environment isn’t just growing it’s evolving – and very fast. It’s vital to ensure that you are well equipped with the most up-to-date requirements and practices, whatever your role. And it’s important for everyone – whether employers or industry professionals – to be constantly learning and keeping abreast of the latest developments, in order to close the skills deficit, and future-proof the talent pipeline.

At UCEM we’ve recently launched our
Online Academy, home to a range of content designed to enhance and supplement CPD in the Built Environment – from self-managed, bite-sized training to longer, tutor-supported courses. The academy provides a unique means of completing CPD online, with no need to attend face-to-face seminars; meaning individuals can study whenever and wherever suits them best.

We’re continuously developing new courses for our Online Academy, and input from our industry network is invaluable for evolving relevant content. If you’d like to contribute an idea, please get in touch academy@ucem.ac.uk