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What is continued professional development and why is it a good thing?

Part II.  Continued Professional Development is expensive.  Right?

Wrong.  Continued pprofessional development (CPD) covers a broad spectrum of activities that contribute to both your development of new skills and refinement of existing ones.  CPD always requires an investment of time but it does not need to be expensive or onerous in other ways.

CPD can be considered to be an investment, by you in your own career, and in your development as a professional by your employer.  It can be both formal and informal and requires tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain as you work, beyond any initial training.  CPD records document what you experience, learn and then apply.

Some professions use the term ‘continuing professional develment‘ formally, and require a certain amount of development activity to be carried out and documented each year as a condition of maintaining your membership of, or registration with, a professional body, or a licence to operate in that field.  

In other areas, CPD is used more informally. A commitment to learning and improving is, however, generally expected of anyone in a professional capacity.

There are no formal “licence to operate” provisions affecting geologists, generally, in Australia and New Zealand, although there are specific fields where government authorities require geoscientists to be members of a recognised professional association or institute.  Requirements vary from state to state in Australia.  The situation is very different in Canada, where professional registration is required to work in most provinces and legislation to mandate this is in place.  Professional registration is also required in some U.S. states and in the European Union.  AusIMM Members must have Chartered Professional status to act as Qualified Persons reporting exploration results, mineral resources and ore reserves to Canadian securities exchanges.  This is not, however, required of AusIMM Fellows, or both AIG Members and Fellows.  These arrangements are set in Canada and subject to regular review.  

What is a profession?
A profession may be considered to be any career area for which you need a professional qualification. Traditionally, the professions included law, medicine (including dentistry and other allied professions), and accountancy.  More recently, many other professions have emerged, including HR, marketing, sales and IT, all of which have recognised professional qualifications.

While CPD isn’t a requirement for geoscientists in Australia, it does demonstrate commitment to continually improving your skills, in addition to maintaining concepts of best practice through sharing learning with colleagues and peers.

Recording your development actions is essential.  An important part of continuing professional development is being able to demonstrate it.  It is important to keep a diary of all your development activities to be able to show how your skills and knowledge have developed over a period.

2 CPD Hours

AIG organised and endorsed activities have specified CPD hours.  You will have seen these logos in the AIG web site events calendar and email newsletters.

An investment in CPD is typically measured in CPD hours or CPD points, both of which are a combination of the time devoted to continued professional development and an activity weighting or multiplier.  Multipliers reflect the effort and value associated with specific activities.

The AIG’s Registered Professional Geosceintist (RPGeo) programme specifies the following weightings for various CPD activities.  Some examples of the weightings for different activities include:

ActivityWeighting
Meeting, seminar and conference attendance, including webinars.1
Formal postgraduate study, short course and workshop attendance (applied to lecture hours)2
Distance learning – higher degree and postgraduate studies (applied to lecture hours)2
“On the job” learning: e.g. mine visits (other than those associated with regular duties), working with consultants, undertaking company-sponsored research.1
Preparation and presentation of materials for geoscience courses, conferences, seminars and symposia.2
Participation in AIG and other professional society / institute committee work0.5
Receiving mentoring (mentee) from experienced MAIG or FAIG1
Providing mentoring to an early career or less experienced geoscientist0.5

Some activities are subject to additional restrictions, such as the proportion of total hours that may be provided by a single activity, to ensure that continued professional development completed by members has an element of diversity.  There are also specified hours for some activities, such as 30 hours for publication of a paper in a peer-reviewed journal.  A more detailed discussion of what constitutes CPD and relevant weightings is available here.

It’s not all about attending conferences and seminars.  It is clear from the list above that there are a wide range of activities that contribute to professional development, readily accessible by all members.  RPGeos are required to complete an average of 50 CPD hours per year, averaged over three years, which may sound onerous but is something that many members achieve without realising it, or doing anything out of the ordinary.    

The key is ensuring that CPD activities are recorded.

What do you think?  Is a requirement for all Graduates, Members and Fellows to undertake CPD, and in the process satisfying community expectations of what constitutes a professional, something that AIG should consider?  Add your thoughts to this post or join the discussion on the AIG Linkedin Group.

Part I of this article series is available here.

What is continued professional development and why is it a good thing?

Graduation from university with an Earth science degree represented a major learning milestone that enabled you to begin your geoscience career.  It also represented the start of the next phase in your professional, technical and personal development through continuing development as a professional.

Continuing professional development, or CPD, is work-related learning that should continue throughout your career.  The year in which new professionals enter the workforce is usually a period of intense, on the job learning in a diverse range of areas such as field and mapping skills, sampling, core logging, managing contractors, landowner liaison and mining title management, to name but a few.  University studies provide an essential and solid grounding in geological principles, Earth systems, scientific method and research skills, which must be supplemented by a broad spectrum of new skills that are based on elements of these fields and represent workplace essentials.

In many professions, CPD forms an integral part of a licence to practice.  More professions require a managed and verifiable commitment to CPD than not.  The dominant reason for this this is the perception of public risk associated with practice of the profession in question.  Medical professionals, for example, may be called on to make decisions that could affect someone’s life.  Engineers design and build structures and machines that could create public safety risks or have profound economic consequence if they fail.  Teachers shape the character and skills of young people who will be the backbone of our society in future years.

Geoscientists have the privilege of being self-regulating.  There is no universal requirement for professional registration and licencing of geoscientists in Australia.  This does not, however, diminish the need for, and value of CPD.  It remains one of the key mechanisms by which high standards of professional practice and the relevance and currency of qualifications and experience are maintained.

CPD is frequently described as an investment for both individuals and employers as it involves maintaining enhancing and extending your knowledge expertise and competence.  It is central to the definition of professionalism recognised by the general public, where professionals strive to become leaders, knowledgeable, sources of advice and able to reliably solve problems in their chosen fields, which sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

Formal CPD falls into three broad categories:

  1. formal CPD;
  2. informal work-related CPD; and
  3. activities external to your work that contribute to your CPD.

CPD requires an investment of time, but the cost of CPD does not need to be onerous due to the range of activities that fall into the three categories above.

Join a discussion of CPD and professionalism on the AIG Linkedin Group.

Digirock’s vacation work register re-opens 2 July

Perth-based geology consulting and contracting company Digirock helps university students find exploration and mining industry vacation employment opportunities.  The register re-opens for 2018 on 2 July.  Applications close Monday, Sept 3, 2018.

AIG commends Digirock for continuing this great initiative.

PhD Opportunity @ JCU

Embedded PhD researcher

The Economic Geology Research Centre (EGRU) at James Cook University (JCU), Townsville and Dugald River Mine, MMG, are offering a PhD project in Structural Geology/engineering geology/geotechnical engineering, focused on developing a model for the geotechnical behavior of the ore zone and immediate wall rock at Dugald River Mine, north of Cloncurry, Australia.

Dugald River, is a world-class Zn-Pb-Ag deposit (64.8Mt @ 12.0% Zn, 2.2% Pb, 31g/t Ag) in the Mt Isa district which commenced mining in 2013. The ore zone is structurally complex with a strongly sheared and faulted hanging wall, which affects mining and ore recovery.

During the project you will develop a structural model for the orebody based on face mapping and drill core logging using advanced digital mapping techniques (ADAM Tech) in combination with 3-D modelling (Leapfrog and Vulcan). The work is aimed at gaining an improved understanding of fault distribution patterns and rock mass behaviour along the ore zone, to improve the efficiency of ore recovery.

The successful applicants will have good 3-D skills with experience in structural geology, engineering geology and/or geotechnical engineering. Prior knowledge of Leapfrog, Vulcan and ADAM Tech software would be an advantage but is not a necessity. We are looking for candidates with an interest in solving practical geotechnical problems in a mining environment. A first class Honours or a Master by research are essential to be eligible for PhD studies at JCU, and be competitive for a scholarship.

More information about the Geoscience department and EGRU can be found here (JCU web site)

If you are interested please send an expression of interest and your CV to:

Prof Paul Dirks  or Dr Ioan Sanislav

Fresh Science nominations – one week to go

Do you know any early-career researchers who have peer-reviewed results, a discovery, or an invention that has received little or no media attention?

Please nominate them for Fresh Science, our national competition that helps early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery.

Scientists get a day of media training and the chance to share their work with the media, general public and school students.

Fresh Science is looking for:

  • early-career researchers (from honours students to no more than five years post-PhD)
  • a peer-reviewed discovery that has had little or no media coverage
  • some ability to present ideas in everyday English.

How to nominate

Check out the selection criteria, read ahead and see what questions will be asked, then go online and nominate via the short, easy, online application form.  Nominations close midnight on Tuesday 24 April.

The training and events will be held in June and July– the dates are on the website.

What’s involved in Fresh Science?

In each state, we will select the top ten applicants. If selected, you will get:

  • A day of media training where you will: hear from working journalists about what makes science news for them; find the story in your research with guidance from two experienced science communicators; and practice being interviewed in front of camera and on radio.
  • A short profile about your work written in a media-friendly way, published online and via social media.
  • The chance to step on stage and present your science to a friendly audience down at the pub. In some states, you will also present to school students or a “Shark-Tank” style panel of leaders from industry and government.

One story per state will be written up as a press release and issued to the media.

Fresh Science is an initiative of Science in Public.

Fresh Science South Australia is supported by the South Australian Museum, Flinders University, the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide.

Fresh Science Western Australia is supported by the Western Australian Museum, Edith Cowan University, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Murdoch University.

Fresh Science Victoria is supported by the Royal Society of Victoria, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, Deakin University, RMIT University, CSIRO, and La Trobe University.

Fresh Science NSW is supported by the Australian Museum.

Fresh Science Queensland is delivered in partnership with Econnect Communication and is supported by the Queensland Government, QUT, Griffith University, and the University of Queensland.

Now in its 21st year, Fresh Science has trained over 500 scientists to share their science, and generated hundreds of news stories via TV, print, radio and online. You can read past Fresh Scientists’ stories online at freshscience.org.au.

We’re looking for partners around the country for Fresh Science 2018 to help us celebrate our 21st birthday in style. If you’d like to support Fresh Science, please get in touch.

Read more online at www.freshscience.org.au