One of the many challenges in my role is not to feel continually impressed by our members, working as they do in the most challenging of environments. And only the more cynical among you would find it hard not to be inspired by many of them, too. I consider myself lucky to be able to regularly meet so many of our members.
I have also been fortunate in meeting CIOB members who work on some of the most high profile and eye-popping projects in the world. I’ve also met specialists working to support construction projects in unusual or particularly demanding environments. This is an industry made up of industries and it is getting ever more complex.
Clearly, therefore, one size does not fit all. That is a challenge for this organisation when we must maintain and uphold a CIOB standard that can be objectively measured and mutually understood across a range of disciplines. All this while still supporting the goal of giving people from all backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a management career in construction.
It is not easy to do. But it is vital. We will never diminish the credibility of the CIOB qualification and only seek to enhance what it is that members have achieved and the standards they have reached - and work to maintain.
Even though it’s a challenge, our work in recent years in gaining NARIC recognition for the Chartered Membership (MCIOB), and the prestigious Fellow of the CIOB (FCIOB), comparable to a Masters, is evidence of the rigorous approach we have taken – and will continue to take. Very few professional bodies in our sector have done the same and we realise that in order for members - and those choosing to employ members - to have complete confidence in the qualifications we offer, the validation from an independent, external and officially recognised body is vital.
We also realise that in this industry made up of industries we need to respond to the changes the sector faces.
In the past, panels of members would interview applicants. The problem with that model was that the interviewers did not always have knowledge of the competencies for that role – it was difficult, in an ever growing and complex industry, to find qualified panellists who understood all the disciplines that can be covered by CIOB membership. It also left the process vulnerable to a ‘time served’ approach, rather than a genuine assessment of ability.
So, in response to feedback from members, we changed the way we approached that to a fairer and even more robust method which reveals a person’s competency for the job, supported by academic criteria and the necessary three years minimum industry experience. After all, measuring competency and commitment to professionalism has to be at the heart of any application.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that none of this happens in isolation. We work with many of the world’s biggest employers in the sector and we know that individuals holding CIOB membership are seen by those employers - and potential employers - as professional, competent and able to deliver the services that customers pay for. In a heavily regulated industry, those with qualifications help to promote confidence in a project or even in a company. This, in turn, is no accident as we work with vocational qualification experts – people with a wealth of industry experience – to develop our qualifications and programmes.
Arguably, the greatest value of professional bodies lies in the promotion of trust in society. Public polling has found that a vast majority of those who know something about professional bodies agree that they would trust a professional more if they knew that they were a member of a professional body. It clearly differentiates professionals who have made a commitment to the sector and to their own progression and future in the industry.
Only last month I blogged about maintaining the integrity of the CIOB Diploma. This is something we work hard to do and will always do to recognise and respect the effort each individual puts in to achieve their qualifications. There may be more changes to the way we do that because the way you work changes – and in order to uphold and protect our promise to maintain our standards we will reflect the activities, structures and standards expected within the industry you support.