Claire Glaister FICFor on the Value of CPD

Claire Glaister FICFor of GR Forestry Consultancy has been a member of the Institute for almost 20 years. She has written a blog highlighting the value of CPD in light of the recent statement from PESC.

In these extraordinary times, we have found new ways of working, new ways of communicating and new ways to deliver the best, professional service to our clients. Perhaps too, we have also found new ways of deciding what is really important to us, our families, our society and our world.

For a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, one important thing in a work context is continuing professional development (CPD). Which is why, when we join, we commit to undertaking ongoing professional development throughout our careers.

The Professional and Educational Standards Committee (PESC) recently issued a statement on CPD obligations that reiterates the importance of CPD and the need for practising Fellows and Professional Members to record a minimum of 100 hours in every 3-year period in order to remain chartered.

Some may say ‘surely, in these extraordinary times, doesn’t everyone have enough to worry about without having to think about CPD?’

And I can totally understand that question.  Particularly as I am one of those members who hasn’t often been able to attend lots of conferences and meetings.

Having participated in a number of Institute online events since lockdown, I have come to appreciate the value of CPD even more and in ways I’d not quite expected; yes, they were invaluable from gaining knowledge and debating issues with industry colleagues point of view but also for the opportunity to simply take time out from this ‘new normal’, break up the routine and enjoy learning.

It’s not been the case that all your cares dissipate of course, but for about an hour, I have found myself being taken away from the worries of what’s been happening all around and focusing on a wide range of topics covering wildfire contingency planning, felling permission and development, red squirrels and harvesting operations and more.

Not only that, I’ve also seen the faces (and home interiors) of colleagues I’ve not caught up with in years; fortunately for me, a friend taught me how to add different backgrounds to my Zoom account (call it my very own CPD in video conferencing) so my own home office clutter has remained largely hidden from view!

Going back to the ‘Isn’t there enough to worry about?’ question, the PESC statement addresses two key things for me:

1. The CPD obligation is for a minimum of 100 hours in every 3-year period. In other words, a minimum of 100 hours over a 3-year rolling programme. So if you do find yourself unable to undertake the average 33 hours a year during 2020, if you’ve completed more than this in 2019 and will do likewise in 2021, then your 100 hours will be easier to achieve over a 3-year period and so on.

2. The statement reassures readers that PESC will consider exemptions on a case-by-base basis for those members currently unable to meet their obligations.  This demonstrates that the Committee is keen to support members to fulfil their CPD commitment and I am thankful that they have taken this stance.

I am also grateful to Institute staff for planning, managing and delivering such an informative series of events in these extraordinary times too.

Claire Glaister FICFor

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