Professional development is vital for engineers
In the engineering profession, broadening skills and learning new technologies is key to getting and keeping the best job of your career. Here’s how to keep your professional development up to date.
There are many benefits offered by continuous professional development (CPD) in such a competitive, globalised and constantly evolving profession such as engineering.
Apart from the need to keep up with new technology, today’s engineer is often expected to take on roles such as project management, workplace communication, cultural awareness and client relationship building.
“The skills that engineers need are expanding beyond the application of engineering principles,” says Ben Leaver, Executive General Manager Commercial Services at Engineers Australia. “Employers need their people to also work well in teams, communicate effectively with people who speak different languages and service client needs.”
According to Ben, the right CPD course could not only help an engineer secure a lucrative overseas post, but also improve their employability at home.
“Engineering has always been a global profession. The big design firms can operate across time zones, hand-balling a job from Sydney to Johannesburg to Santiago and back to Sydney as the planet rotates,” he says.
“Even within our own borders, the workforce is becoming more and more multicultural. Over 57 per cent of the local workforce is born overseas and the skilled migration program still acts as a major source of new talent.”
In the post-mining boom environment, companies are becoming less reliant on foreign workers and are willing to invest more in local engineers. The growing importance of software systems such as BIM means that engineers have to keep abreast of the latest systems.
”CPD isn’t purely for the benefit of the company you work for; it’s as much personal development as it is professional,” says Georgina Bloomfield, a former digital content editor at the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology). “Certain CPD courses can increase your confidence and overall wellbeing. They can make you feel more valued and sometimes even inspire you to work harder in a company that at one point you may have considered leaving.”
Bloomfield emphasises the importance of properly researching the type of course and training sessions that will offer the most benefit – and suggests canvassing the opinion of managers, team members and your HR advisor.
“It’s always better to take a planned approach to continuous professional development,” she says. “If you have a goal of what type of job you’d like to have in the next three to five years, have a look at how you can get there and the timeframe allowances for this.”
In Australia, continuous professional development is mandatory for engineers who wish to retain chartered status, but also ensures that you are up to date with the latest processes, technology and legislation.
For those who aspire to leadership roles, the right CPD course could provide the commercial and management skills needed to fulfil your ultimate ambition.