Within the UK Construction Industry, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a mandatory requirement for over 500,000 individual members of approximately 50 construction industry professional bodies and member institutes. The CPD guidelines for the construction industry were originally established under the auspices of the CIC (Construction Industry Council).
In order to maintain and improve standards of professional skills and expertise, individuals are required to demonstrate their adherence to the principles of CPD, which require them to continually improve their knowledge and their understanding of the changing practices, procedures and technology which influence their working environment. In the field of architecture, the RIBA has summarised CPD as “the activity which maintains, enhances or increases the knowledge and skills of the member to the benefit of his or her capabilities as an architect”.
In order to maintain membership of their designated professional body, members must demonstrate that they have engaged in a set number of hours for educational activities aimed at improving their knowledge and skill. This requirement is normally in the region of 35 or 40 hours per year, but not always. For example, members of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) are required to complete at least 20 hours of CPD each year. The activities in which they engage to do this are CPD-rated, and CPD certificates or ‘Points’ are issued for each activity, thereby enabling the individual to continue his or her professional activities.
CPD and Construction Product Marketing
Most manufacturers/suppliers of building products and services will find that the majority of their target audiences of specifiers and other professionals are required by their professional bodies/associations to undertake CPD and are therefore compelled to research CPD-rated material and/or attend lectures, seminars and other CPD-rated events.
By the very nature of their businesses, manufacturers/suppliers possess considerable expertise in their own fields and are ideally placed to help them by providing CPD approved material. This enables them to develop contacts and network with their clients and potential specifiers who wish to learn from them. Such material can take the form of electronic or hard copy documentation, formal seminars and conferences, roadshows, webinars or presentations given by invitation to professionals in their own offices. Unsurprisingly, professionals are increasingly accessing CPD through digital and online channels and, according to the RIBA CPD Providers Network (talking about their own, NBS delivered, programme), “60% of architects go on to specify one or more of a manufacturer’s products after having undertaken their CPD”.
Once the manufacturer/supplier has had its CPD material approved (see below), it can be listed on the regulators’ appropriate indexes, which are consulted by potential users when seeking CPD-rated sources of information. It is important to note that, in order to receive approval for submitted CPD material, the information on a given subject should be written or presented in a generic form. Specific brand-related sales material cannot be submitted. Therefore, preparing the right format and achieving the right tone in the material presentation is essential for success. Construction marketing specialist, Competitive Advantage, can undertake a 'CPD Health Check' during which it will undertake a review of your construction CPD material to offer advice on what is good and where there are opportunities for improvement, providing comments and observations on elements such as promotion, presentation content and delivery.
Approved CPD presentation material will provide the manufacturer/supplier with an effective tool to gain face-to-face introductions to specifiers. Research from Competitive Advantage revealed that ‘…78% of architects prefer to attend CPD seminars at their premises’. Nevertheless, persuading a practice (or other professional organisation) to host your CPD seminar is not straightforward, as there will be significant demands on time from other organisations offering CPD-rated presentations. In its article ‘How can you get an architectural practice to book your CPD seminar?’, Competitive Advantage suggests engaging with practices’ CPD Co-Ordinators, who in most cases will not be practising architects, but are important because they will have a “….very clear idea of the subjects the practice needs, and unlike architects, they often welcome approaches from manufacturers who have CPD seminars to offer.”
Competitive Advantage have also produced a guide entitled ‘A checklist for delivering effective construction CPD’, which provides point-by-point help.
Delivering CPD material by video can also help the manufacturer/supplier. In its blog entitled ‘7 Video Topics for Construction Marketing’, specialist marketing agency, Insynth, points out that “CPD videos are a huge benefit to a company because they are quick and easy way of consuming content…..” and that “…. Accessing construction related CPD videos such as the ones produced on RIBACPD.com come with a certificate at the end of viewing them. This removes some of the lost time that comes from submitting paperwork in order to provide evidence of your participation in CPD training.”
Construction CPD Channels and Support Services for Product Manufacturers, Suppliers and Service Providers
Barbour Product Search In June 2020, Barbour Product Search became CPD accredited, providing manufacturers with the opportunity to develop key relationships with specifiers.
British Institute of Interior Design CPD Providers Directory
Offers interior building product manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to promote their BIID-approved CPDs to interior designers nationwide.
Offers construction industry companies the opportunity to publish CPD content on a dedicated platform.
Building Design Directory
Index of CPD training courses offered by construction product manufacturers.
Building Magazine CPD
Building magazine provides online and downloadable construction CPD-rated modules for industry professionals. Manufacturers can submit product-themed data for CPD modules.
CIOB / Construction Manager CPD Zone
CPD information portal offering sponsorship opportunities.
A portal for architects, specifiers and other construction professionals to watch audited CPD and to log activity. Also provides manufacturers and suppliers with help in creating CPD-rated material.
CPD Certification Service
Independent CPD accreditation centre.
RIBA CPD Providers Network by NBS
Offers building product manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to promote their RIBA approved CPDs to architects nationwide.