Navigating skills maintenance
Following on from the History of LBP series, this article looks into what continued professional development (CPD) looks like. In the Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) scheme, we know this as skills maintenance
As an LBP, you need to keep up to date with changing industry practices and regulatory changes. This is done by completing and recording skills maintenance activities — learning activities that help make sure you continue to meet the minimum standard required to keep your licence or licences.
This requirement isn’t unique to LBPs. Most professional associations have a CPD programme of some kind to ensure members are kept up to date. Can you imagine going to an architect or engineer and getting advice that was current when they trained 30 years ago? And there’s the medical industry, airline pilots, your accountant, building consent officers – you’d really expect them to be up to speed with current legislation and practices to earn your hard-earned cash, wouldn’t you? This is exactly what your client is expecting of you.
All LBPs must complete a set of skills maintenance, which combines both compulsory and elective activities, every two years.
A lot of keeping up with the play is naturally occurring – you’re in the industry carrying out your job every day, so you’re bound to pick things up from the plans or see one of your workmates doing something differently. This is what the boss was talking about when you first started work – “you’ll learn something new every day on site…”.
And skills maintenance isn’t just about laying one brick on top of another or drafting a plan. If something you do improves efficiency in your work or the running of your business, your dealings with customers or workmates, or provides a more cooperative and inclusive working environment, it’s going to be beneficial to the customer, to you and to the industry. As a result, it would be considered skills maintenance.
As mentioned above, skills maintenance is divided into compulsory and mandatory activities.
The compulsory activities – reading specified articles and answering quizzes for the licence classes you hold, and two examples of on-the-job learning – are the same for all licences held.
Elective activities can be any activities useful to you and your work, and the number of hours required depends on the type of licence. According to lbp.govt.nz, the activities must relate to learning activities you’ve carried out — not just things that you’ve done — and they must be relevant to your licence class. However, as explained below, that does not necessarily mean trade-specific.
Design, site and carpentry
For carpentry and site practitioners, finding learning opportunities that count as skills maintenance is relatively easy – there is always a new product, system, or installation instruction on site. It may be a bespoke engineering detail or architectural feature, which requires them to explain exactly what they want. This may not be a discussion you’re personally involved in, but the message will be relayed to you if you’re doing the job, so there’s good skills maintenance there. This discussion is great for one of your on-the-job learning examples – remember to keep a copy of the detail off the plans and any instructions from the designer as evidence.
It could even be that the building or safety inspector has a discussion with you regarding an incorrect installation or a potential hazard you hadn’t picked up on – this could also count as on-the-job learning.
Design LBPs have a far more stringent CPD regime than skills maintenance if they belong to a professional organisation. Robyn McArthur of Architectural Designers New Zealand (ADNZ) shares some of the CPD activities their members undertake:
- A vast selection of supplier’s webinars and films.
- Superhome events such as bus tours (working towards more healthy and efficient homes).
- Tuelo talks, pods, and Notion Flo webinars (Teulo Ltd is an online education platform)
- Passive House (PHINZ) events.
- Engineering New Zealand (ENZ) – engineer involvement in their projects.
- Manufacturer seminars.
Roofing, plastering, brick and blocklaying and foundations
For our specialist trade practitioners, it becomes somewhat more difficult to find, or recognise learning opportunities, especially as there is not an abundance of new products entering this market.
Brian Miller, on behalf of the Master Brick and Blocklayers Association, provided the following four key elements, which aren’t necessarily trade specific, that the organisation believes are necessary to ensure a competent and enduring tradesperson in the sector:
- Current competency – technical compliance and keeping current, being aware of dimensional and composition changes in products to ensure accurate and aesthetically correct installation.
- Core business skills such as operational costs, employment law, and financial acumen for businesses and contractors.
- Health and safety – a wider focus on wellbeing in addition to site-specific requirements.
Future proofing the industry – taking on apprentices and being fully involved in their training. The Association is introducing access for apprentices with an education package which includes webinars and a site verification app to improve the efficient compliance certification of installation work, all at no cost.
Graham Moor, CEO of the Roofing Association of New Zealand, agrees that CPD doesn’t always need to be trade specific – there are many softer skills that will fit the criteria of improving site awareness and the client’s experience during the disruption in their space while you are working there.
For dealing with the customer, his suggestions are:
- Knowledge of the requirements under the Consumer Guarantees and Fair Trading Acts.
- Customer service awareness.
- Dispute resolution courses.
For a cohesive worksite, which also enhances the customer’s experience, his suggestions are:
- Cultural awareness, given the mix of ethnicities and cultures found on sites today.
- Mental health – the building industry has some of the highest suicide rates in NZ. Join Mates in Construction or one of the many organisations active in this field.
- Employment law – and this is for employers, employees and contractors alike. Know what’s required and what’s fair.
As exemplified above, industry associations are there to keep you up to date and current, using webinars, newsletters, magazines, conferences, workshops, seminars, competitions, etc. Although belonging to an association has a small cost, the benefits are worth it not only for your skills maintenance requirements, but also for your own personal growth.
Visit lbp.govt.nz for more information and guidance on skills maintenance, especially under ‘On-the-job-learning’.
This article is an excerpt from Codewords Issue 106. Reading Codewords articles that are relevant to your licence class is a mandatory requirement for Licensed Building Practitioners.