1 November 2018
At the start of the year I wrote in Building Engineer about our plans to further develop and enhance the Association and now, six months after becoming Chief Executive, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the progress we have since made on implementing these plans and give you an idea as what you can expect next, and how these developments may affect you.
Previously I wrote about the importance of the vote to pursue full membership of the Engineering Council (EC) and how this was critical to our plans to raise standards, increase our profile and drive operational excellence through improved digital services, but would also affect almost all aspects of the Association’s operations.
Six months later I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress with many improvements to what we do and how we do it already implemented, which I hope you are already starting to notice, not least if you attended the Annual Conference in October. Securing Dame Judith Hackitt for our keynote speech and several other high-profile speakers was a real ‘coup’ for our Association, enhancing our reputation and enabling us to boost our profile many times over in the trade media and online.
Importantly, the conference proceedings also highlighted the key themes of ‘Competency and Responsibility’, which suddenly have greater meaning with the construction industry at a quality crossroads; and how do professionals in the construction sector deliver a standard of practice which exceeds expectation and deserves public trust. I have said many times that I believe that CABE and its members with their mix of technical, standards and practical expertise are well placed to help the industry deliver, and it is with this in mind we continue to push forward our plans so that the Association can fulfil this ambition.
In June the board agreed the Association’s new five-year development plan which is summarised in the below diagram. Key to this is the people to ensure we have the right skills in the headquarters team to deliver our plan. This is our priority and if you visit headquarters today you will notice several new faces in the team. These include (but are not limited to): Richard Harral, former Head of Technical Policy at the DCLG Building Regulations Division, as Technical Director; Jackie Macaulay as Chief Operating Officer; Laura Richardson as PR and Communications Manager; and enhanced new roles for Sarah Sivyer and Tony Ginda. These changes to the team are all designed to enable us to deliver our plans and provide improved levels of service to you, the members.
Critically, Richard Harral joining the team has allowed us to engage proactively with the various working groups that have come about from the Hackitt Review looking at competence of roles within the industry in regard to fire safety, but has also drawn from this experience to draft the Association’s future membership competency criteria which will be essential to us meeting Engineering Council criteria and likely future competency requirements that may come about from the implementation of the Hackitt review.
We have also made significant progress regarding the Engineering Council implementation since the vote in May which gave us the clear mandate to progress to full membership. Since then a great deal of work has gone on in the background to make this happen and it has become clear that aligning our operations to those of the Engineering Council requires us to review almost every aspect of what we do.
Key milestones on this journey include changes to our governance structure to create two new board sub-groups; the Technical Expert Panel, and the Membership and Professional Standards Committee, and a detailed submission to the Engineering Council of our planned operations which was completed in August. To support this we have also undertaken a full review of the Association’s standards and processes by which we handle complaints and professional conduct issues against members.
I am pleased to report in September we received a planned audit visit by a team from the Engineering Council to assess our preparedness to progress to the next stage, and we passed with flying colours. The audit team recommended, subject to ratification by their Quality Assurance Committee, that CABE can progress to full membership and start registering our members where appropriate for the EngTech, IEng and CEng designations. Initially, we will work alongside another Engineering Council approved body, the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), to support our operations and provide enough CEng registered panel members until such time as we have enough of our own to operate independently.
So, what should you expect next? We will be communicating with you about the new membership competency criteria and codes of professional conduct and how to go about registering for the Chartered Engineer (CEng) designations. Then we expect to write to all current CABE members early next year with the full details of how to apply for Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration, if you wish to do so (it's not required, it's your choice). If you do, you will have to complete an application and depending on your academic qualifications, maybe a technical report, following which you will be called to an interview by a panel of CABE members and Chartered Engineers. We will send full details and the necessary application forms to everyone as soon as we can.