Kirsty Johnson, Technical Sales Director at Surge Protection Devices, ponders whether the upturn in CPD will continue in a post-pandemic landscape.
One thing that’s become apparent over the course of the pandemic is that the industry view of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has really shifted. With the circumstances as they were/are, and more electricians having a bit of free time on their hands, we’ve really noticed an upturn in the number of individuals who’ve seen the opportunity to ‘upskill’ themselves. I think its also shone a light on how little training and further learning was being undertaken by the industry in general, pre-COVID.
What’s the big deal with CPD?
Competence scheme providers have long been advocates of CPD, along with industry groups such as e5, who regularly encourage contractors to ‘level up’ by increasing their knowledge. With new technology emerging so quickly, electricians run the risk of being left behind if regular CPD isn’t completed. As someone who works for a company that specialises in surge protection, I’ve always seen CPD as an extremely important area of the industry and my own career has centred largely around training and CPD.
Before the 18th Edition arrived, surge devices were not widely used within most sectors of the industry, so my job has entailed lots of educational talks, seminars, CPD events, appearing on industry podcasts and writing articles for publications, such as PE. In fact, pre-pandemic, I was driving up to 1,000 miles a week covering events in both the UK and Ireland!
The show does go on
So, when I was grounded in March of last year I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself for the first few days. After discussions with colleagues and friends, I realised that I could carry on delivering quality training on a virtual basis and that eventually led to us launching the SPD Training Academy. I was overwhelmed with the response and one live session a week quickly became a daily event.
I’ve now trained thousands of electricians, specifiers, electrical consultants, lecturers and apprentices throughout every level of the electrical industry, all for free, without even leaving the office. I’ve also had some lovely feedback from delegates and the sessions have been met with such gratitude. It has, however, really highlighted to me the lack of free, easily digestible CPD that’s being offered throughout the industry currently.
It’s crazy now to think of all of the important training and CPD on vital issues, that was potentially missed pre-COVID due to the pressures of working as an electrician professional. CPD, rightly or wrongly, gets put on the back-burner once the hectic pace of daily work picks up, especially for small contracting companies and sole traders who would likely lose income in order to undertake training. There are many who have made massive accomplishments in learning and training during lockdown which, during a normal period, would have been impossible.
What lessons have we learned?
In my opinion, the availability and suitability of free CPD opportunities is something that our industry needs to address moving forwards. I personally feel that manufacturers have an obligation to offer CPD opportunities to anybody that wants to learn, and it would be a step backwards if we see a decrease in the amount of CPD being offered as we move closer to normality. In the case of the training that we offer at Surge Protection Devices, I wanted to ensure that individuals could still take part, even if they’re back at work.
So, alongside my live sessions, I’ve broken down my training webinars into 10–15 minute modules, which can be watched on demand. This means that contractors will have the option of partaking in a live session with myself where they can ask ‘real time’ questions, or if the times and dates don’t suit, they can log in and do the training session in their own time, then contact me after with any questions.
It shouldn’t be a sales exercise
I’ve delivered training to contractors and consultants that have openly told me they don’t use my company’s products – something that might not go down well with some manufacturers. What’s important to me, however, is that the education is there to ensure that the correct devices are selected and installed, that professionals understand the regulations around surge devices and why they’re being installed – not what brand of SPD is being used.
As much as we’re all looking forward to getting back to a bit of normality, I hope CPD and its importance for the industry to stay relevant and up-to-date isn’t quickly forgotten.
Book training or view on demand CPD from Surge Protection Devices by clicking here