I think we all agree that the skills, knowledge and competencies required by professionals today are very different from what the industry expected in 1970’s. There was no talk about sustainability, waste management, lean construction, carbon reduction or greater emphasis on health and safety what we put now.
And we know that the CIOB faces a lot of challenges - from its strategic vision for the future, to supporting members in all aspects of their careers while remaining relevant to changing needs and requirements from the industry and members – but ultimately it is a membership-based organisation involved in promoting professionalism and creating better opportunities for employment.
Chris Blythe’s plans to modernise the Institute by developing new qualifications will be a shift from what the institute has done for the past 177 years to where it is now. Rather than simply becoming another provider of qualifications, the CIOB should seek to work more closely with the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) who have been providing these courses for the past 150 years. The Institute can help develop more relevant courses that will equip professionals with the skills required for future challenges.
HEIs already provide the options - such as the flexible learning programmes - that Chris is proposing. They enable professionals already in the industry to study at every level, so why introduce another provider into the equation when well-established educational institutions exist.
I do, however, welcome president Alan Crane’s comment that his primary focus is to involve employers with the work of the Institute and give them a bigger say in the curriculum. The industry, CIOB and academia all have the responsibility to enthuse passion with a purpose to develop a mechanism that can prepare the professionals for the future, and I believe that the CIOB can provide the vital link between employers and HEIs. I’m not denying that the link didn’t exist before, but it should be closer (even if Blythe thinks it’s too cosy at times).
HEIs are facing a challenging time at the moment with the increase in tuition fees, and needs to make their courses relevant for the ever-changing requirements and demands of the industry.
On the back of this, industry leaders need to show their commitment towards academia as present students will become the future industry leaders. Technological and regulatory changes are already transforming every aspect of the industry, including academia, and by industry, the CIOB and HEIs working together and employers providing research opportunities, sharing their knowledge, and providing work-based learning opportunities and placements - even if for a short duration – this new way of learning will provide young professionals with the right skills required to face future challenges.
We must remember - students are future members/industry leaders, and both professional bodies and industry need to work closer than ever before with them. Instead of introducing new qualifications and becoming another provider, the CIOB should thrive to continue doing what it has been doing for the last 177 years and maintain the highest possible standards in the industry.”