Changing How We Educate Engineers in Industry


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M Unger, Rosen Group

All professional engineers make a commitment to maintain and enhance their competence by undertaking ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD). CPD is the process of managing, and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that a member of staff gains both formally and informally. It is not simply training (learning how to do something, such as a skill), as it includes knowledge (understanding gained through experience or study), and experience (experience is the process of obtaining knowledge and skills from doing and/or participating in relevant projects).

Most of this CPD is informal learning during a working life, complimented by structured activities such as training courses. This professional development is important to staff: professional development is the third most important factor for employees when evaluating their role.

Traditionally, this CPD has been provided by employers, but during periods of recession, there is often reductions in structured activities such as training courses; for example, the recent recession in the oil and gas industry has seen training course numbers and attendances plummet by over 75%. Add to this problem the continuing widening of the skills/experience gap/shortage in this industry as baby boomers retire (Figure 1), and it is not surprising that 36 per cent of employers say that a lack of succession planning for knowledge transfer and skills retention is the contributing cause of their skills shortages. Knowledge transfer