How IPD helps the transition from academia to the workplace

The transition from the world of academia to the workplace can be challenging for university graduates.  Patrick Waterhouse, author of Initial Professional Development for Civil Engineers, explores the issue.

Recent graduates: you are expected to learn for yourself and be a seeker of information
Recent graduates: you are expected to learn for yourself and be a seeker of information
A shock to graduate trainees when entering the workplace is the change in learning and the different learning styles that must be used.  In universities the learning process is essentially driven by the syllabus and the lecturers with the students as relatively passive ‘receivers’ of information, broken down for them into digestible, term-sized chunks.

Contrast this with the workplace where there are few ‘teachers’. As a graduate you are expected to learn largely for yourself, to actively manage your own personal development by becoming a ‘seeker’ of information, either as and when it becomes available or by finding it.
 

The need to continue learning

Engineering is very much a knowledge business. For organisations to thrive they must continue learning to adapt to new challenges. The same is true of the people who work in those organisations. 

Those entering companies as new starters after leaving university cannot look at their studies as the high water mark of their learning.

In researching for my recent book, 'Initial Professional Development for Civil Engineers', I spoke to many people in senior leadership positions who pointed to the need for trainee engineers to be curious and inquisitive in their work. Infrastructure is all around us. We pass examples of civil engineering every day.  Engineers should question why things are done a certain way - or perhaps not done a certain way.
 

Initial professional development

During your IPD the focus is on developing a rounded capability across 9 attributes established by ICE.  Your IPD is measured against progress in the attributes, which have 3 levels of achievement;
  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Ability

Continuing professional development

For the duration of your IPD you are required to document your progress routinely to ensure that you focus on gaining the experience necessary to becoming a professional civil engineer.

You need to produce regular progress reports to record your development and maintain your development record, summarising how you are progressing with respect to each of the attributes.

You will also record your development through the annual maintenance of your CPD.

Your development towards the attributes will not be linear. You may progress more readily for some attributes while it may take more time to develop others fully. Your records should be clear and focused. They should include the date, the project and the role or duties you were undertaking in relation to the attributes you are claiming. Try and be specific and provide sufficient detail. What were the challenges you experienced, what were the options?  What decisions were made by you and what you have learned? You should consider linking these statements to the reports in your document library. The keeping of records is an important personal discipline that is essential professional practice.
 

Becoming professionally qualified with ICE

The purpose of ICE’s various routes to qualification is to enable practising professional civil engineers to record how they have developed their capabilities so that they can undertake a member or chartered professional review, leading to the opportunity to be recognised as a professional civil engineer and ultimately be awarded membership of ICE. 

By embracing the IPD methodology and tools provided by ICE graduates should adjust from the world of university to the very new demands of the professional workplace.
 
Patrick Waterhouse is a chartered civil engineer and is the author of the recent ICE Publishing title 'Initial Professional Development for Civil Engineers' which guides trainees and their mentors through the process from university to ICE’s professional reviews.  Patrick is also the co-author of the ICE Publishing's 'Successful Professional Reviews for Civil Engineers' which explains how candidates should prepare for their review.
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