Why you need to take Continuing Professional Development seriously and how to optimise it

GAI technical manager Douglas Masterson on the rising importance of competence and CPD

The construction industry in UK is currently experiencing an increased appetite for CPD, much of which is due to the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy with a resultant increase in requirement for competency and up-to-date learning. CPD refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that is gained both formally and informally on an ongoing basis, beyond any initial training.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety entitled “Building a Safer Future” was commissioned by the UK Government following Grenfell. This report placed a huge onus on CPD and stated the following. “Career development, learning and education, and its active management should be considered essential. Qualifications and training are only part of the answer – continuous professional development (CPD) throughout a career is needed to ensure levels of competence remain relevant.” 

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 alongside the Building Safety Act 2022 also put great emphasis on those involved in construction projects having the appropriate competence requirements in respect of their skills, knowledge, experience and behaviour. Therefore, whilst initial training is of utmost importance, there is a direction of travel which seeks to ensure that those who are involved in construction products are not just trained but are fully up to date in their competence. CPD is seen as a concrete demonstration of this. 

Knowledge maintenance

GAI has been at the forefront of industry competence since its inception in 1961. This includes training at all levels, from the Foundation in Hardware to provision of in-depth product knowledge from the Certificate in Hardware and then right through to the internationally recognised DipGAI which develops the skill of specifying fully compliant ironmongery products on to a project. In 2022. GAI introduced three qualifications in the fields of access control and electric hardware (DipAC); Doors as Systems (DipDS) and Standards and Regulations (CertSR). The first recipients of these new qualifications have just been announced and will receive their awards at the Education Awards in November.

Therefore, whilst it is important to have the initial training, this does not provide a demonstration that skills and knowledge are current, which is where CPD comes in. Registered Architectural Ironmonger (RegAI) status is therefore of huge importance for all who have DipGAI as it demonstrates that product knowledge is maintained and kept fully up to date with industry standards and latest developments.  

In 2022, it was decided that RegAI be amended to further align it to a post-Building Safety Act World which places higher emphasis on up-to-date learning and competence. As a result, a number of changes to the programme were introduced which included: 

  • An increase in annual CPD points requirement from 10 to 20 points to make RegAI more robust and therefore be comparable with other sectors and industries.
  • An increase in the compulsory coursework from two to three elements which are to be on the GAI Core CPD topics set out by GAI Education Committee each year.
  • Ensuring RegAI members are up to date on standards and regulations by providing a CPD presentation on this as a core topic each year.
  • Providing online quizzes on GAI Learning Hubs on all non-core CPD presentations delivered either by webinar or in GAI Community Hubs. (completion of two of these quizzes is now a mandatory requirement).
  • Online submission of CPD points as opposed to by PDF logsheet.

In a further commitment to CPD from GAI, from 2024 onwards the RegAI CPD scheme will be accompanied by equivalent CPD programmes for the new Diplomas and Certificates previously outlined. This will mean that those in possession of the
CPD qualification will become a GAI Registered Professional which will include the following schemes:

  • Registered Architectural
    Ironmonger (RegAI)
  • Registered in Door Systems (RegDS)
  • Registered in Electric Hardware and Access Control (RegAC) 
  • Certificated Advisor in Standards and Regulation (CertSRA)

To comply, all GAI Registered Professionals must have successfully completed a relevant GAI qualification and will continue to maintain and update their knowledge through the GAI continuing professional development (CPD) programme. GAI Registered Professional status is therefore a clear demonstration of up to date and professional competence in matters which are critical to building safety, accessibility and security. 

An online quiz based on this feature is available on the GAI learning Hub and worth one CPD point. https://learninghub.gai.org.uk/totara/dashboard/index.php

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