APC Advice 2011/12 - Week 5: Professional Development Explained
In this article I have focused specifically on the information surrounding professional development and detailed in the RICS APC Candidate’s Guide.
I have also provided additional suggestions regarding each APC Route and what is required to achieve the correct amount of professional development.
Professional development explained
Before we go any further it is important to define professional development.
RICS state in the APC guide that professional development… ‘helps you to gain extra skills and knowledge that are not always possible to get within the week-to-week business’.
Professional development is an excellent tool to aid the development of knowledge and understanding, Level 1, for a specific competency. However, it is only a small part of the equation when it comes to Levels 2 and 3 as there is no substitute for the ‘real-life’ ‘hands-on’ experience. Often candidates misunderstand the competency Levels and think they can achieve Level 3 with just professional development. In reality this is highly unlikely as assessors will always want to seek out and discuss Level 3 examples where the candidate has demonstrated giving advice through ‘real-life’ experience.
APC candidates following Graduate Routes 1 and 2 have to undertake a proportion of their APC training in the form of professional development or learning. Often professional development is mistaken to be the same as Continuing Professional Development, which is a requirement for Chartered Surveyors. Be careful, as there are subtle differences and assessors like to see that a candidate understands the difference and uses the correct terminology.
- Continuing Professional Development is done by Chartered Surveyors and they are required to undertake a sufficient amount each year. The current minimum suggested amount detailed in the RICS Rules of Conduct, CPD Help Sheet is a minimum of 20 hours per year.
Professional Development for APC candidates following Graduate Route 1 or 2 is a minimum of 48 hours per year.
- Continuing Professional Development can be demonstrated through a very broad spectrum of personal development, for example it could include voluntary work etc.
Whereas professional development should really be much more focused, where possible, on the APC candidate’s declared competencies.
So candidates are well advised to focus their professional development on the requirements of the APC candidate’s guide and the competencies they are declaring.
Professional development across the various APC Routes
There are differing requirements in the various APC guides for professional development across the range of APC routes. I have reviewed and outlined the minimum requirements of each one below:
- Graduate Route 1 - 48 hours per year and a minimum of 96 hours in the minimum 24 month training period. Ensuring that the 48 hours per year are broken down into 3 portions of 16 hours covering the 3 professional development splits. Anything over and above minimum 24 months competency experience period (and many candidates do more than minimum 24 months training) should be recorded at a minimum of 4 hours per (additional) month of recorded experience or part thereof.
- Graduate Route 2 – 48 hours per year in the minimum 12 month training period. Ensuring that the 48 hours is broken down into 3 portions of 16 hours covering the 3 professional development splits. Anything over and above the minimum 12 months competency experience period should be recorded at a minimum of 4 hours per (additional) month of recorded experience or part thereof.
- Graduate Route 3 – This route is quite different and a candidate needs to follow the requirements for Continuing Professional Development that a Chartered Surveyor is required to do. Therefore, in the 12 months prior to the candidate submitting their final assessment documentation, the Graduate Route 3 candidate needs to demonstrate sufficient CPD and I suggest a minimum of 20 hours. I often get asked if a Graduate Route 3 candidate need to focus on the professional development splits, similar to that of a Graduate Route 1 and 2 candidate? I suggest a healthy awareness of the professional development splits is a good thing and doing continuing professional development relevant to the candidate’s declared competencies is also a positive move but I have not seen that specifically stipulated in the APC guides.
- Adaptation 1 – The same requirements as Graduate Route 3.
- Senior Professional - This route has a very different requirement. However, the Senior Professional guide notes that a Senior Professional Candidate must also comply with the Continuing Professional Development requirements and achieve a minimum of 20 hours in the 12 months prior to final assessment documentation submission date.
The issue of the professional development splits do not feature with the Senior Professional route as I would expect a Senior Professional candidate to be more focussed on their business, leadership and strategic management development rather than specifically across the depth and breadth of the technical competencies that they should already know.
Recording Professional Development
Professional development for graduate routes 1,2,3 and adaptation 1 candidates is recorded in template 4 of the final assessment templates (Excel workbook). Please note: Senior Professional candidates have a different set of templates.
More often than not professional development is not given the attention it deserves and it becomes an after thought or is perceived to be a burden or hindrance which inevitably ends up with the recorded entries in template 4 being consistently poor.
However, if professional development is planned, managed and executed correctly it can become a huge benefit to the Experience Record, template 6, as a candidate demonstrates and describes their Level 1 competency achievement. The ‘clever’ candidate can neatly cross-reference template 6, Level 1’s, to their professional development / CPD achievement and thus demonstrating to the assessors that they have thought through the APC process requirements and planned their professional development accordingly.
“As an assessor I take Professional Development information to be as important as the Experience record and Critical Analysis and these three documents provide the majority of the material I would use to develop my range of questioning for any specific candidate at the final assessment interview.”
Now we have established what professional development is and that it is actually quite important I can now focus on just how important it is to undertake quality and well planned professional development rather than just cobble together a list of half-hearted and often irrelevant examples.
When considering Graduate Route 1 & 2 candidate’s, they are recording their experience through day to day work and should be developing their up-to-date knowledge through professional development. As we have already mentioned these two paths of experience and learning converge in the Experience Record, template 6, and should provide a well rounded explanation of how the candidate has met all of the required competencies and levels.
I always suggest a good rule of thumb is ‘Doing is Diary’ and ‘Learning is Professional Development’.
On this basis a candidates professional development should take on a different priority and role and motivate the candidate to plan it better and attend more relevant events.
“Please realise that the final assessment assessors are trained to review and ask questions about a candidate’s professional development records. Not forgetting that ANYTHING a candidate documents and submits, in their final assessment documentation is fair game and can be questioned on at the final assessment.”
WHAT CAN BE RECORDED AS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT?
I always refer back to the RICS APC Pathway guides and see what they suggest are key learning activities for each of the candidate’s declared competencies. I find this the best way to appreciate the depth and breadth of ‘knowledge and understanding’ that a candidate should already have or are actively seeking before coming forwards for their final assessment.
I would suggest that any learning can be recorded as professional development as long as it has some relation to the candidate’s declared competencies and complies with the APC candidate guide for achieving the professional development splits (the 3 x 16 hour breakdown).
I have not seen it documented anywhere that candidates can only attend RICS events and often non-RICS events may be equally useful and can be recorded if they complement the candidate’s competencies.
The style of learning can include many different forms, for example: reading, industry journals, RICS Modus, structured reading, research, online research, presentation and discussion with colleagues and peers, in-house training, study packs, CDs / DVDs, seminars and external courses etc. However please note that the RICS APC Candidate’s guide clearly states that private study should equate to no more than two thirds of the candidates recorded professional development. My personal view is that this is too high and it would benefit the candidate to demonstrate professional development more associated with developing their professional contacts and network.
RECORDING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
I have already mentioned that professional development is recorded in Template 4 of the final assessment templates. However, very few candidates properly read the two lines of text at the top of template 4 which quite clearly outline what candidate’s must include in the template.
‘Please detail the professional development title, location and key components. Include Method of Learning. Include an overview of the objective and reasoning why you are doing this professional development. Conclude with the outcome and how it relates to your declared competencies’.
I suggest that when writing each entry candidates focus on the following headings:
- Key Components:
- Method of Learning:
- Objective and reason for doing professional development
- Outcome and learning points:
- State the competency it relates to:
A time saver would be to edit / set-up the ‘Subject’ headings in each of the table’s cells in template 4 with the above headings. Candidates can use the typical Excel editing function ‘ALT’ and ‘ENTER’ (together) when editing a cell to force a carriage return in a cell. It makes for a much neater record and easier for the assessors to read.
Don’t forget that template 4 has the capacity to contain approximately 150 words in each entry.
CAN EDUCATION EXPERIENCE BE USED AS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT?
I am often asked this question and I have outlined the issues below…
BSc Hons - RICS guides say that if a candidate is doing a part time accredited BSc Hons Degree then they can use the final year of education towards the first year of their APC training and therefore professional development requirement. However, this should also be supplemented with other relevant professional development.
Post Graduate Masters - MSc - Any candidates doing a 2 year part time MSc concurrently with their APC training are advised that they can record a maximum of 50% (24 hours) of their professional development per 12-month period over the 24-month APC training period.
A candidate should not neglect the professional practice skills development part, particularly regarding RICS Rules of Conduct, Ethics, the structure and role of the Institution, and the RICS website which may not always be covered within education.
Also my view about recording university courses as professional development is that it is important to get out there and do professional development similar to what you would expect to do as a Chartered Surveyor and demonstrate to the assessors that you are keen to do this. I would advise any candidate considering using their education for their professional development to consider using it only as a top up and not the norm. Get along to RICS and other relevant events, get involved in RICS matrics etc and demonstrate to the assessors your willingness to ‘get involved’ in the Institution rather than taking what I perceive to be a easy soft option.
WHAT ABOUT PRIVATE STUDY?
Exclusively doing private study (i.e. reading books and articles only) is not really the best way to deal with the professional development requirements. Whilst I would consider a small proportion of private study is acceptable (i.e. generally research and reading, keeping up with industry journals etc) it should be easily outweighed with individual and group interaction with fellow professionals.
FINAL ASSESSMENT and Professional Development
From my experience assessors are unlikely to refer you on a professional development issue alone. However, getting professional development wrong can affect your success at APC. You should read the APC guide and final assessment templates and record what is being asked of you to the correct levels and be prepared, at final assessment, to discuss in detail anything that you have recorded.
REFERRED CANDIDATES and Professional Development
If you have been unfortunate enough to be referred it is extremely important that you consider your professional development carefully for your next assessment. You will have to complete template 8 the professional development deficiency record. Please ensure that you focus your professional development on the areas of deficiency noted in your referral report as this demonstrates to assessors that you have thought about your referral properly and professionally. Also assessors are likely to question you specifically on your referral areas so this makes a lot of sense.
If you need a copy of the APC Guides? See www.APCcentre.com/links for a quick link to all of the APC Guides and much more.