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A new CPD system

adrgDavid James is concerned that the Society’s new CPD system oversteps the bounds.

The recent article by Messrs Talbot and Eccles (Geoscientist, February 27.1) carried the news that the Society (my italics) had adopted a new system for CPD, seemingly because all ‘other’ professional institutions reviewed now require their Chartered members to perform it.  This logic smacks of the reasons lemmings jump off cliffs. 

I assume, although not stated, this must mean that the recommendations (all?) of the report Continuing Professional Development –A Review of The Society’s and other Professionals’ Existing Systems – with Proposals for new Requirements and Recording Process by Talbot et al (2016) have been debated and adopted by Council.  If so, as the report contains recommendations affecting all professionally active Fellows (not just Chartered), the decision should properly have been announced by Council. 

I entirely agree that Fellows offering services for payment should be able to demonstrate, as far as is ever possible, that their services are fully competent.  The consumer has a right, even in the legal and financial sectors, to assume a degree of competence, which must surely include an awareness of current knowledge and practice; for this a record of CPD is arguably mandatory. 

However where payment is not sought I see no reason to demand such record.  As a retired self-funded geologist I consider my CGeol useful for my research as demonstrating to those whose co-operation or permission (or both) I require to operate, that I subscribe to ethical professional standards and that my peers have confirmed this.  Beyond this they have no concern.  As with many others in a similar position, I practise CPD, but to my own needs not those of central bureaucrats. 

The article conveys an unfortunate impression that CPD ensures competence.  It can no more do this than it can ensure ethical conduct.  What it can do is yield an awareness of what is technically possible or legally permitted, and give guidance or tuition on how this can be implemented.  The standard of the delivered product can never be guaranteed.  As with any self-reporting system, CPD is open to abuse, by falsification of input, which is very difficult to spot.  Are such checks made, and if so by whom?

Moreover, the article is rather coy about what happens to CPD plans - and the personal data that accompanies them - when submitted online (or indeed what could happen to it).  What CPD has been undertaken is obviously no longer confidential; but setting out of personal intentions for up to five years in the future should surely be strictly confidential.  It is no business of the Chartership Committee and (more worryingly, like medical records) has commercial value that could be ‘sold on’.  The requirement to inform central bureaucrats of one’s aspirations and plans in order to remain within a ‘closed shop’ of CGeols is both sinister and worrying.

The new diktats will require many hours of my time.  My worries suggest this time may be better spent in the field.


* David James is a retired Chartered Geologist and a former member of Council.