The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has launched a major public engagement exercise to invite architects to help shape the regulator’s approach to continuing professional development (CPD).
The Building Safety Bill, introduced in Parliament in July 2021, will give ARB new powers to monitor the training and development architects carry out throughout their careers. ARB will introduce a scheme for monitoring CPD that will encourage architects to maintain and develop their competence to practise.
The ARB Board has developed four principles to underpin the scheme. These are based on initial research ARB commissioned in 2020, including a survey of over 4,400 architects, focus groups, stakeholder interviews and an open call for evidence. ARB has published the full research findings alongside a paper explaining its proposed principles.
ARB is inviting architects to share their views on the principles before they are used to develop the scheme. The principles are:
- Improve the overall competence of the profession: The scheme will aim for an overall positive shift in the collective competence of the profession by promoting a culture of continuing professional development. It will not be about catching out individuals.
- Tailored by architects to their own practice and needs: The scheme will encourage architects to reflect, plan, act and evaluate on their learning activities in a way that is relevant to their practice and development needs. The approach will not be ‘one-size-fits-all’.
- Proportionate and deliverable: ARB’s research shows the majority (70%) of architects are already committed to carrying out dedicated CPD annually, so the scheme will aim to formalise and shape that learning. It should, as far as possible, avoid additional costs for architects.
- Avoid duplication where possible: ARB intends to design a model that is suitable for all architects, and will be considering how best it can work alongside other schemes – both in terms of subject matter and logistical compatibility.
Alan Kershaw, Chair of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“We’re focussed on introducing an effective new scheme as soon as that is viable, but we’re equally determined to get it right. We have lots of ideas but this isn’t something that can, or should, be designed in an ivory tower. If it’s going to improve standards of practice across the profession, architects need to help us design something they will use and find useful.
“I’m asking all architects – and anyone else working in the built environment sector – to read about our principles for the scheme and complete our survey. This is the first step in creating the scheme. We will listen to what is said, develop our proposals and share them for discussion next year.”
Dame Judith Hackitt, who chaired the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, said:
“The work of the Architects Registration Board is vital in ensuring that architects practising in the UK design buildings that are safe for all residents. I welcome this engagement exercise and encourage architects to contribute to help shape how the scheme will work.”
ARB’s survey is published alongside another major engagement exercise, the government’s review of architectural regulation. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published a Call for Evidence inviting views on whether the current regulation of architects in the UK can be improved, how diversity and access to the profession can be promoted, and how it can better support outcomes such as sustainability and innovation. ARB will be a key partner in delivering any changes the government seeks to make following its review.
ARB’s new legal powers are dependent on the Building Safety Bill becoming law. That is unlikely to be this year and, given ARB’s ambitious engagement exercises, the scheme is unlikely to be in place for the whole profession before 2023. The new law will provide for the formalities of dealing with those architects who are unable or unwilling to meet the requirements of the new scheme. ARB has published further information on the legislative changes and what they mean for architects here.
ARB will also be running a workshop session on the principles. To stay informed about further opportunities to shape ARB’s work, and to receive an invitation to the workshop, architects can join ARB’s Architects Engagement Group here.
Notes for Editors
- The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. By law, an individual must be registered with ARB if they are to use the title ‘architect’ in the UK. There are currently over 43,500 registered architects.
- Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
–Maintain the Architects Register, a tool anyone can use to confirm whether someone is a UK architect
–Set the education and training requirements for architects, by recognising the qualifications necessary for joining the Register
–Ensure only appropriately qualified applicants from the UK and overseas join the Register
–Set and enforce the professional standards expected of UK architects
–Take action against those who call themselves an architect illegally.
- ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
- The Building Safety Bill introduces fundamental reforms of the entire building regulatory system. It builds on the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, ‘Building a Safer Future’. The Bill places greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the lifecycle of buildings in scope of the new regulatory regime for building safety, including in the building’s design phase.
- ‘Building a Safer Future’ recommended that ARB should address fire safety in design as part of the competence levels required of architects. In March 2021, ARB responded to this by publishing new Fire and Life Safety Design Guidelines for architects. All registered architects should ensure the health and safety of the people who use buildings outweighs any other obligations they may have. The guidelines also promote the need for architects to understand their role within a design team, and for them to know how to manage risk on a building project.
- In August 2021 ARB also published new guidance for all institutions offering ARB recognised qualifications. The guidance aims to ensure that architecture students are well trained to be able to design safe and sustainable buildings.