The IET’s Solent Local Network has proactively supported members’ professional registration aspirations over the last few years, raising the number of applications and building new relationships with engineers in the community.
Four years ago the Solent Local Network (LN) became aware that it had not been active in promoting professional registration through any events and it also had relatively few Professional Registration Advisers (PRAs). The committee was aware that there was activity within the larger enterprises in the area to support potential candidates for registration and so it made the decision to become more proactive in this area.
The two opportunities which seemed most obvious at the time were to put on ‘Routes to Registration’ events, where IET staff/PRAs would speak about registration and answer questions, or to host professional registration workshops, where potential candidates would attend for 20-minute one-on-one sessions with a PRA.
Of the two it was clear that there was an on-going demand for workshops in the region, as Gordon Dixon, treasurer and webmaster of the Solent LN explains.
“At the first event we had 55 candidates apply for appointments and we had to create a waiting list, which meant that we had 35 for another event a few months later. Again we had a waiting list and therefore we held three events in the first session and then four in each of the following sessions before we reached a position where the list had been closed,” he explains.
Having such success, the LN held workshops in different locations across the region in order to make them accessible to all members. One was close to the border with the Sussex Local Network and so they were invited to advertise for it as well.
“We saw people attending from as far away as Crawley and Brighton,” enthuses Gordon. “For the current session we have settled into a regular process of three workshop events in the year, two in Southampton and one in Havant. We foresee continuing this for some time and we expect to see 25 to 35 applicants each time.
Along the way the LN has recruited two new PRAs who live or work in the region, but are still looking for more.
“In fact, as a part of our strategic thinking we now see building up our professional registration and mentoring capabilities as key items for development alongside our regular events programme,” Gordon notes.
Gordon is keen to highlight the benefits of holding these workshops and hope that other LNs will follow in Solent’s footsteps.
“The benefit to members is evident from the demand for appointments that we have seen and continue to see,” he explains. “When talking with attendees it is very apparent that there is a great desire to become professionally registered, but much apprehension about whether their experience is adequate and whether the story can be told to the satisfaction of the IET.
“The comments after the one-to-one sessions are predominantly positive, often to the effect that the candidate is more ready than originally believed and that a clear way forward is now visible. The confirmation of that is now being seen in the increased rate of applications from those attending these events.”
In addition, the network itself also benefits from holding these workshops, as it gives it a new opportunity to link with members often too busy to attend events, and get fresh blood on the committee.
“There is an opportunity for contact with members from a group which tends to be invisible. We have mechanisms which keep us in touch with students and we have an active retired members section. We also see some of the late career people at our events,” says Gordon. “However, the 'missing generation' is the early and mid-career group, most of whom are overwhelmed with work, family, home and pay scant attention to our regular events. It is mainly members of this group who attend the workshops and so we get to talk to them.
“Subsequently we have seen some of them at other events,” he explains. “More notably we have recruited committee members from meeting members at workshops and we have secured a number of excellent talks for our events programme as a result of these contacts.”
If you’re interested in running a workshop in your LN but are concerned about costs and support, worry not. IET staff are on hand to help support any LNs which wish to host them. Louise Parfrey and her team at the IET’s Volunteer Support Unit provide a lot of guidance and support including advertising materials, aiding the registration process, finding available PRAs to carry out the one-to-one sessions, administration on the day and also providing the correct literature for candidates.
All the LN itself needs to provide is an appropriate space at a convenient venue, refreshments and snacks and the presence of, where possible, a network committee member to meet with the candidates while they wait.
Gordon’s story shows how much both a Local Network and their members can gain from such events.
“It would be a great pity if LNs were to ignore the potential for all concerned of this kind of event,” he concludes.
For more information or if you’d like to hold a Professional Registration Workshop, contact Louise Parfrey at LParfrey@theiet.org.