ICHEME is undertaking a series of projects that aims to improve member services, service delivery and the sustainability of IChemE.
One of these is Programme SMART which, as IChemE’s Vice President of Qualifications Ainslie Just has discussed (issue 945, p54), aims to deliver sustainable membership growth by improving and streamlining routes to Chartered membership.
In this article, I’m going to provide an update on Initial Professional Development (IPD), which is stage 2 of the 3-stage development process for chemical engineers illustrated below. From April 2021, it will be required for applications for Chartered Chemical Engineer, Professional Process Safety Engineer, Incorporated Engineer (IEng), and Engineering Technician (EngTech), though this article focuses on requirements for Chartered membership.
Initial Professional Development is where someone learns to apply their knowledge and understanding, develop the required competencies, and attain the experience to help them become professionally qualified. The Engineering Council requires those seeking professional engineering registration to maintain a detailed record of their professional development, responsibilities and experience, and to provide evidence prior to the professional review.
Until now, IPD has been subsumed within the Professional Review, during the assessment of the Competence and Commitment Report and subsequent interview. However, from April 2021, IPD will be a separate step (stage 2), with the Professional Review becoming stage 3. There are several advantages to this:
It is important to emphasise that IPD verifies training and experience, whereas the Professional Review assesses professional responsibility and application of knowledge and experience. Therefore, a candidate may fulfill stage 2 some time before they have reached the required level to apply for full Chartered membership.
A candidate can attain the required training and experience via two different routes:
These are structured training programmes run by some employers and certified by IChemE, which provide the candidate with substantiated support and guidance to emerge as a competent chemical engineer, ensuring the depth and breadth of experience to develop towards professional registration.
Candidates from companies without an ACTS scheme are responsible for managing their own training. They can use the “Framework for Effective Mentoring” to help them record and monitor their professional training and activities. It is also advisable to seek support from an IChemE trained mentor, within or outside their company, who can assist them with career and professional development advice.
Typically, it takes 4–6 years for a candidate to gain the necessary experience, after which they can submit an IPD application. All applicants must be in IChemE membership (as Affiliate or Associate Member).
Candidates who have successfully completed an IChemE-accredited ACTS scheme will automatically satisfy the IPD requirement. They submit a form signed by their mentor and the scheme manager, certifying that they have developed the required competencies in all areas, and there is no fee to pay.
The majority of candidates have not completed an ACTS and will have to demonstrate that they have achieved the required training and experience by completing the full IPD Assessment Form. They will also need to supply a short CV and pay an assessment fee.
The sections in the IPD Assessment Form correspond to those in the C&C report, covering technical skills, safety/sustainability and “soft skills”. Each subsection can have up to five entries, of which one or two should give some detail to show depth of knowledge (eg project involvement demonstrating those skills) and others are brief bullet points showing breadth (eg attending training courses). Candidates can then use these examples later for their C&C report, expanding and developing as necessary to demonstrate the increased level of responsibility required at professional level. The “Framework for Effective Mentoring” is structured similarly, so that candidates can summarise experience that they have recorded throughout their career as a basis for the IPD form.
The form is suitable for all candidates, regardless of their career stage, and candidates can include any relevant training and experience that they have gained at any time in their career.
The IPD from is reviewed by two trained Assessors who will assess all individual sections and the overall submission as either adequate or inadequate.
If the IPD is assessed as adequate, the candidate is recorded as having fulfilled stage 2. If they have the required Educational Base (stage 1), they can proceed to the Professional Review.
If the IPD is assessed as insufficient, the candidate is provided with detailed feedback from the assessors that states which subsections need improvement. Only subsections rated as inadequate need to be rewritten. Where candidates have not yet developed specific competencies to the required level, they can arrange training or in-house experience and resubmit their IPD later when they have advanced these competencies further. Candidates will be able to revise and resubmit their IPD twice without paying an additional fee.
Guidance documents will be available and we are also developing examples of model answers, while a pilot scheme is currently in progress to test the complete assessment process.
We are recruiting volunteer IPD assessors. IPD assessors will be Chartered or Fellow members of IChemE and will receive training so that we maintain standards and ensure consistency. For more information, please see the role descriptor.
Our hope is that the introduction of a formal IPD step will help both candidates and assessors by providing a more clearly-structured route to demonstrate acquisition of all the skills required to achieve Chartered membership. This will enable applicants for the Professional Review stage to get it “right first time” and reduce the number of C&C reports requiring major rewrites or being rejected altogether.
The IPD assessment will be introduced as part of the IChemE application process on 1 April 2021. If you have any questions please contact IChemE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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