As the “new normal” establishes itself, an emphasis is being put on the “new”.
The world is becoming used to new ways of behaving and performing activities, including learning. A rise in digitally delivered learning has put the future of CPD into question.
With that in mind, we have summarised the results of 4 reports on CPD published during 2021 to understand the past, present, and future of CPD in construction.
What Does CPD Mean For The Construction Sector?
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development, and, despite more traditional approaches, it encompasses a wide range of elements that contribute to the general knowledge and skillset of construction professionals.
In the past, only structured face-to-face presentations were referred to as CPD. The rapid development of digital technologies, however, has widened the scope of CPD to planned or unplanned activities that are delivered in a more informal or even self-catered fashion.
What Counts as CPD?
Conferences and webinars have managed to position themselves as a strong alternative to face-to-face CPD, in addition to this, online courses are now widely recognised among construction professionals as CPD. In addition, more innovative takes on CPD have started to include reading technical articles, listening to industry-specific podcasts, and undertaking mentoring activities as CPD.
A more relaxed understanding of CPD has also underlined that CPD should not be restricted to courses that are paid for but must extend to free online courses that construction professionals should be able to access.
According to the Scheme for Continuing Professional Development proposed by the Architect Registration Board (ARB) last August, CPD should be focused on outcomes, rather than on ticking a box. Following this view, the benefits a particular activity could bring to a professional’s practise should be the main aim of their CPD roadmap.
This approach matches that of the insights gathered by the Survey of Architects conducted by SQW, according to which architects were keen to the introduction of additional CPD requirements but, in contrast, asked the industry to move away from requirements based on time spent on CPD. The quality and relevance of the learning undertaken should, hence, be prioritised over the hours that construction professionals could log as CPD after attending a particular event.
Why Should the Construction Sector Care About CPD?
Reports throughout the last decades have repeatedly underlined the impact the built environment has on different aspects of our everyday life. This newly highlighted awareness on the vital role the decisions construction professionals take has made it imperative for governmental institutions to guarantee they are enabled to put forward the safest and most sustainable solution.
This warranty requires the continuous and maintained development of the knowledge of all construction professionals, ensuring flawless compliance regardless of the field in which they perform their professional activity. CPDs are also key for the education of potential clients interested in a particular solution.
Through CPD, the construction industry can further the education of each of its members, allowing every single person to become more effective and allow the sector to grow for the better.
The Future of CPD in Construction: The Numbers
In order to understand the changes CPD within the construction industry is experiencing, we have gathered the findings of four reports on CPD published during 2021 and brought them together into a single piece of research.
An Overview of CPD in 2021
According to a survey commissioned by the ARB and conducted by SQW last February,
- 31% of architects report undertaking over 35 hours of formal CPD per year. 39% admit engaging in between 15 and 34 hours of CPD.
- When asked for informal CPD, a higher percentage of architects reported having done over 35 hours in 2021
- 45% of architects would be keen to engage in further CPD activities
- When looking at the different methods of CPD undertaken, the survey observed that
- 90% of architects resorted to self-directed CPD reading
- 87% preferred on-site learning
- 80% reported on training delivered by professional bodies, including RIBA’s CPD provider network
Understanding the Challenges
The survey by SQW also highlighted the challenges architects faced concerning their CPD. These included that
- 1 out of 5 architects felt unprepared by the point they became newly qualified architects
- 83% reported they did not have enough time to undertake their CPD
- 39% admitted CPD was not prioritised among their daily activities
- 16% mentioned not being aware of the possibility to include self-directed learning as CPD activities
- A small number of architects expressed their concerns about the quality of the CPD currently available to them
The identification of these challenges has prompted the construction sector to act since skill shortages could have a clear impact on the productivity and growth of the industry.
Furthermore, when asked directly to employers, the report Building the UK of the Future published last April observed that
- 31% of the employers admit at least some of their existing employees to lack the skills they needed to be fully proficient at their roles
- 27% believe that 1 out of every 4 of their employees will require higher quality support training in the next 3-5 years
- Nevertheless, only 6% of the employers admitted having put a plan in place to guarantee CPD was accordingly undertaken by their workforce
The Consequences of the COVID19 Pandemic
In their paper “Continuous Professional Development Changes for Construction Professionals Post Covid-19” presented by Greg Watts and Nicki Harris last March at the 5th CU Construction Conference, it was also gathered the current concern of construction professionals for the quality of the CPD offered.
This paper reported significant changes in the way construction professionals to understand their CPD since the COVID19 pandemic and related national lockdowns. According to a survey performed within the framework of the paper,
- 67% of the respondents felt that, before the pandemic, they received sufficient CPD input from the training events organised by their companies
- Since the pandemic, however, only 38% admitted feeling like they were able to meet their CPD needs through the activities organised by their employers
- From those who felt their CPD needs were unsatisfied, 29% had made the decision to take a more proactive and independent approach towards their CPD activities
These findings complement those from the survey conducted by SWG, according to which 9 out of every 10 had decided to independently undertake CPD in a more independent and self-directed way.
How Can the Construction Sector Respond
The changes outlined by several reports throughout last year ask the construction industry for a reaction, for a modernisation of the way that CPD is delivered, that would grant construction professionals a more independent, proactive, and self-catered approach to CPD.
If your construction product business provides CPD regularly and has noticed these changes, it is crucial that you take the feedback summarised above and adapt your CPD to ensure the comfort of architects and specifiers. For that, there are different ways in which your CPD can enter this new era of learning.
Offer Your Webinars on Demand
For those used to traditionally delivered face-to-face CPD, webinars can be an easy way to start the process of updating your CPD scope. Whilst commonly delivered live, webinars can also be offered on-demand, enabling construction professionals to access the session when it best fits for them. In fact, when offered on-demand, Venture Harbour has reported an increase of 2x in sign-ups!
Webinars should last over 45 minutes, with the average webinar length being 57 minutes. According to HubSpot, 9 out of every 10 professionals engage in webinars once a month and, therefore, a monthly webinar can be the perfect cadence for CPD.
22% of professionals attending a webinar look forward to frequently asked questions being answered on the session and, with that in mind, any CPD should involve some previous research on the common questions the audience might have about a particular service or solution. Similarly, according to ON24, 7 out of 10 attendees expect some downloadable content after the webinar.
A successfully delivered CPD would also involve a carefully designed marketing strategy that promotes the registration and engagement with the session. According to BrightTALK, 57% of the registrations to a webinar come through email marketing.
Instant Access Video
Unlike most webinars, CPD delivered through instant access video is scripted, must have a presentation, and it involves the input of a wide range of specialists, including video editors, voice-over artists, and content writers. While similar to webinars, instant access videos usually require a greater investment, although has proven to bring remarkable results.
Instant access videos are the preferred CPD method of CPD providers, including SpecifiedBy, BarbourABI or CPDUK. Joining a CPD provider network is, by no means, mandatory to deliver great learning content but, with a percentage of construction professionals worried about the quality of the CPD available to them, getting your CPD accredited will hold some weight.
The benefits of getting your CPD accredited involve increasing your brand awareness and authority, as well as getting your CPD content featured on the website of those CPD providers. The message is transmitted in a more structured way, almost resembling an academic lesson.
Just like on-demand webinars, instant access videos can be embedded on your website so construction professionals can access them when it better fits their schedule. Since there will be no possibility of a Q&A, it is key that you provide attendees with supporting documents that they can view or download.
When overviewing the challenges that prevent architects from completing their CPD, 4 out of every 5 mentioned time or, rather, the lack of thereof. With the workload that architects experience growing exponentially, it comes as no surprise that almost 40% of architects push training activities back when other responsibilities come up.
In order to produce a more accessible CPD that will not require architects to devote an hour of their day to learning, some companies have started to look at modular learning. By breaking what normally would be a lengthy session into bitesize chunks, attendees can access CPD more easily.
Furthermore, modularisation has been recognised as an optimised learning approach that allows attendees to consume manageable amounts of knowledge and that leaves them the time to process that information and incorporate it into their practice, one step at a time.
With self-reflection and independent learning, attendees will be able to gain more value from their learning experience, whilst providing CPD providers with a way to establish trust and thought leadership.
CPD Whitepaper: CPD For Your Building Product Company
As you can see, the expectations on CPD delivered have massively changed since the COVID19 pandemic. CPD is, indeed, a successfully proven route to market building product manufacturers but, if not updated accordingly, the way you deliver CPD could be jeopardising your efforts to bring your brand to a wider audience.
To help you understand these changes and adapt your current CPD to this new era of learning, we have produced a CPD whitepaper, where you will be able to find
- Thought-leadership insights to help you engage, educate, and convert specifiers
- The multiple channels where your educational material has the most impact on your target audience
- CPD subject matter to consider, including:
- Statutory & regulatory compliance
- Health & safety and wellbeing
This guide is for construction product business leaders looking to optimise CPD attendance, drive engagement, deliver a positive customer experience, convert opportunities, and build relationships. Is that you?
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