In 2021, 763 architects and other stakeholders responded to our survey on our proposed principles for the new CPD scheme ARB is developing. Now, we are pleased to share the results of that survey, and to outline our next steps in the development of the scheme.
The results reveal that:
- Each of ARB’s proposed principles received high levels of support. The most popular of the four principles was ‘avoid duplication’, supported by 91% of respondents, and the least popular was ‘improve overall competence’ which was still supported by a majority of 81% of respondents.
- There was strong support for informal learning and development. Whilst 83% of respondents found on the job learning very useful, only 32% found training delivered by an external provider very useful.
- Architects expressed preferences for a wide range of different formats of CPD, with respondents raising the value of online events, peer to peer networks, site visits and reading amongst others. There is no one type that all agreed was better or essential.
- Two thirds of respondents raised concerns about accessing quality CPD, saying that it is hard to find CPD that is relevant to specific areas of practice and is not a sales pitch. The most common barriers that architects report to undertaking CPD are the cost, the time taken, and the need to find CPD that is genuinely relevant.
The evidence from the survey reveals strong support for ARB to create a flexible scheme that will formalise, direct and regulate the learning and development that the majority of architects already do. Our scheme will be inclusive for a range of learning styles and will recognise the value of on the job learning and development. Architects won’t be forced to spend time and money attending specific events or courses in order to comply with the scheme.
The report details all the results, including how we handled analysis and how the results are informing our thinking on the new scheme. You can download the report here.
The Building Safety Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in this session of Parliament. Following the analysis of our survey, ARB is now drafting proposals and will test them with the profession, with a view to launching a consultation on the detail of the CPD scheme later this year. Factoring in periods of testing and piloting, we anticipate that we won’t implement the scheme until mid-2023 or later.
Why are we introducing a scheme for CPD?
Architects play an important role in creating a built environment that inspires people, in which we can all be safe and live well, and that helps to tackle the fundamental challenges our planet faces. Anyone using an architect’s services, or a building designed by an architect, has the right to expect that architects will maintain and develop their skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours on an ongoing basis throughout their career.
The Building Safety Bill, when approved by Parliament, will give ARB the power 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. We aim for our approach to be proportionate, genuinely helpful to the profession, and tailored by architects to meet their own individual development requirements.
Most regulated professionals are required to manage their continuing professional development throughout their career. While the Architects Code of Conduct and Practice expects all architects to keep their knowledge and skills relevant to their professional work up to date, the only point that a check is carried out on whether they have done so is when an architect is the subject of a disciplinary complaint. It is quite plausible that for many architects there will have been no checks to see whether they are maintaining their competence from their point of registration until their retirement.
One of the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future Review which followed the Grenfell Tower disaster was that there should be a greater emphasis on both improved competence and regulatory oversight across the construction industry.
To meet the recommendations from the review, we want to be able to demonstrate architects’ commitment to a culture of continued learning throughout their professional lives, which will uphold public confidence in the competence of the profession.
We intend to use the new legislative powers proposed under the Building Safety Bill to create a scheme that connects a commitment to maintaining competence to an architect’s continued right to registration.
What are the principles underpinning our approach to CPD?
In considering what kind of scheme might be most appropriate for architects and under the requirements of the Architects Act, we developed four initial principles to underpin it.
Principle 1: Improve the overall competence of the profession
The scheme will need to create an overall positive shift in the collective competence of the profession by promoting a culture of continuing professional development. We want the scheme to encourage architects to think about their competence and take personal accountability for addressing it. The aim is to drive up standards of competence throughout the whole profession.
It is therefore likely that the model will be based on formative learning rather than competence assessments or tests. We do not believe that it is possible to create single point assessments that are capable of being relevant to the range and diversity of architectural practice.
The scheme should focus on outcomes instead of inputs. This means that the quality and impact of the learning undertaken will be paramount, rather than the hours that have been logged.
The purpose of the scheme will not be a drive to remove architects from the Register, but to encourage a cycle of learning and development. While there must be a consequence for those architects who are unwilling or unable to commit to maintaining their competence, or to engage in the process, it will be unconnected to the disciplinary process which deals with serious cases of incompetence and misconduct.
Principle 2: Tailored by architects to their own practice and needs
We believe that every architect has unique development requirements, so an effective CPD scheme must allow for individuals to maintain and develop their competence in a way that is relevant to their practice. This means that we are not proposing to introduce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scheme. Instead, we will develop a scheme that will encourage architects to reflect, plan, act and evaluate on their learning activities in a way that is relevant to their own practice and development needs.
The scheme should however allow for ARB to make interventions where we identify particular areas of competence that the whole profession needs to address. For example, following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future Review and in light of the climate crisis, we recently addressed the need for all architects to maintain their competence for fire and life safety and sustainability (we shared new guidelines with architects in March 2021 and published new guidance for schools of architecture in August 2021). Again, this would be done in a way that allows architects to carry out additional CPD in a way that is relevant to their work.
Principle 3: Proportionate and deliverable
As research suggests that architects are already committed to carrying out significant levels of CPD, we want our scheme to formalise, direct and regulate that learning. The scheme we design should, where possible, avoid any additional costs for architects, and they should be able to view the time they spend on it as an investment in their development.
This would likely rule out a model which requires a detailed analysis of every architect’s ongoing competence on an annual basis. It could, for example, allow for a regime that covers the whole profession on a light-touch basis or a periodic sample of the profession in a more involved way.
Principle 4: Avoid duplication where possible
One of the key themes emerging from the Government’s consultation on the proposed changes to the Architects Act was the need to avoid unnecessary duplication with the CPD requirements of architects’ professional bodies. An ARB scheme should minimise unnecessary bureaucracy and allow architects maximum opportunity to use their time valuably.
While ARB must create a model that is suitable for all registered architects, we should pay due regard to how best it can work alongside these existing schemes – both in terms of subject matter and logistical compatibility (such as being able to write up CPD once but log it in more than one system).
Find out more about the proposed principles in the policy paper here.
Research and engagement
In 2020 we commissioned a significant piece of research that included analysis of how competence should be maintained and developed throughout an architect’s career.
The research, carried out by independent research company SQW, analysed how competence is maintained in the architecture profession globally and looked at how other UK regulated professions manage CPD.
It also included a survey sent to registered architects, an open call for evidence to stakeholders, and an examination of the views of architects’ employers and clients. In depth interviews and focus groups were used to examine initial findings of the research in greater detail. The key findings from this research were published in a discussion paper; these findings served to inform the proposed principles for a monitoring scheme outlined above.
In August 2021 we launched a survey to invite views on those proposed principles. That survey closed on 29 November 2021 and the results were published in April 2022.
To stay up to date with the latest developments, we encourage you to follow us on social media, or to join the Architects Engagement Group for invitations to participate in engagement activities. Learn more here.