Rejecting CPD

Competency is learning by doing, not by filling out annual forms and logging professional development hours. You are competent or not competent, and how you got competent or stay competent has little, if anything, to do with so-called continuing professional development (CPD).

CPD was imposed on engineers in Alberta some 20 years ago while Ontario engineers have been free of such an intervention. There is no indication that Alberta engineers are more competent, better overall engineers, or better people. If you cannot measure a benefit, what’s the takeaway?

PEO is vigorously promoting a compulsory professional development program that neither the members, the government, nor the public is demanding. These programs are window dressing for regulators that cannot take the liability for continuing competence but wish to give the public the impression that they are doing their jobs of ensuring their members are competent in practise.

PEO gets that this flawed product is a hard sell, and is going to spend considerable time and money convincing you that your concerns are heard (the town halls on this subject showed how anyone who disagreed with their proposal was “heard”); that it won’t hurt to try it on a voluntary basis (think the frog in a pot on the stove); and that making it mandatory will be necessary to stop poor engineering, retired engineers doodling with practise, and events like the Algo Mall, which it won’t.

The Ontario government’s Business Growth Initiative states: “We will create a smarter regulatory environment to drive business growth by fostering a regulatory system that is outcomes-focused and evidence-based. We will boost our efforts with a new challenge to remove unnecessary red tape and by making government rules easier to follow.”

Regulators like PEO should have similar objectives. The proposed CPD is not outcomes-focused or evidence-based, and in a competitive world it is unnecessary red tape.

Before it is pushed further, it must be shown that PEO’s CPD proposal is an issue that solves some demonstrated need, provides a system that can be measured by results versus goals, and that it has been chosen by a rational analysis. Indeed, it must be shown to be superior in some way to the modern CPD models in Europe directed toward the certification of teams.

A last century model focusing on individual performance should be rejected.


Patrick Quinn, PhD (honoris causa), P.Eng., FEC, Mississauga, ON

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