Rob Best explains continued efforts to streamline membership applications
IN 2020, Ainslie Just, my predecessor in the role of Vice President Qualifications, wrote an article (Smart Thinking, issue 945) explaining how the foundations for sustainable membership growth would be delivered through Programme SMART (Sustainable Membership Achieved via Robust Transactions).
Programme SMART closed at the end of 2021 but its aims live on in the guise of Project Flow (so named as a reminder of the need for effective flow of data through the membership application system). Since Flow is well advanced, now seems a good moment to reflect on what was delivered via SMART, and to let members know what is yet to come via Flow. Both SMART and Flow play important roles in achieving Aims 1 and 4 of IChemE’s Strategy 2024 (ie to be respected for our professionalism and technical competence; and to be known as a high-performing organisation delivering significant value).
SMART delivered the new 3-stage Chartered membership process that was outlined in Just’s article. The 3-stage process is fully operational, delivered via a new application portal that was launched last year, and includes the following benefits:
- Stage 1: Applicants without an IChemE-accredited degree now have their qualifications and their learning gained through experience assessed via the Individual Case Procedure. This replaced the previous one-size-fits-all Technical Report. Applicants had told us that they found the Technical Report confusing, and in many cases excessively demanding and off-putting. Our new Individual Case Procedure provides a more flexible and transparent vehicle to assess knowledge and understanding at an individual level, in a very targeted manner. Applicants submit a summary of their formal qualifications and their experiential learning for review. The review identifies any areas where they may need to provide more detailed evidence of how they meet IChemE requirements, in the form of a focused short report, the Technical Report Questionnaire, or TRQ. You can find more information about the Individual Case Procedure in the article I wrote in The Chemical Engineer in October 2020 (https://bit.ly/3enPmTR) when we launched this new process.
- Stage 2: This is a check of the Initial Professional Development (IPD) of an applicant who is progressing to professional review. This was previously covered as an integral element of Stage 3 (the Professional Review). The separate process is particularly important and valuable for applicants who have self-managed their IPD, ie they have not completed an IChemE Accredited Company Training Scheme (ACTS). The check ensures that their professional experience is sufficient to allow them to make an application for Stage 3 Professional Review. The feedback from this assessment can help prepare applicants for the Professional Review. Those who have completed an ACTS are not required to undergo the assessment but only to send evidence they have completed the scheme.
- Stage 3: Stage 3 is the final step to qualification and is the Professional Review. Applicants now complete the process for Stage 3 within 3 months (from official published submission due date to communication of the decision). This represents a very significant improvement from our previous average of around
177 days for the professional review process.
The changes made around Stages 1 and 2 also align us fully with the Engineering Council’s requirements for registration.