GUEST BLOG: CPD requirements are changing – are you ready?

GUEST BLOG: CPD requirements are changing – are you ready?

6th November 2020

In this blog, Alan Harper, the CPD Lead of IChemE’s Professional Formation Forum, urges members to prepare for mandated CPD audits. He explains what’s changing and why taking part in the audit is important for members.

Name: Alan Harper

Job title and organisation: Principal, StratoCirrus Technologies

IChemE role(s): CPD Lead of the Professional Formation Forum; nominated as the representative of the Engineering Council’s Quality Assurance Committee; former Chair of Scottish Members Group; and a member of the Diversity working party

Bio: I originally trained and practiced as a physicist. Then moved into chemical engineering, with three years at as a Research Associate at the University of Edinburgh’s chemical engineering department. I spent 30 years at ICI and its successors as a Principal Environmental Technology Consultant. Then I expanded into academia for 12 years as a lecturer in chemical engineering at Heriot-Watt University and part-time in energy at the University of Edinburgh.

I am the founder of Horizon Proteins, where I’m a consultant in sustainability and resource efficiency. I've been volunteering in various roles with IChemE in its qualifications and membership activities since 1990. I’ve also volunteered in various positions with the Science Council, the Engineering Council, and am the Honorary Secretary of Society for the Environment.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is the maintenance and development of knowledge, skills and experience, and is vital to all professionals. It also demonstrates to the broader community a commitment to staying abreast of developments in the field and allows engineers to keep pace with others in their industry.

In common with other professions and disciplines, CPD assures the public of your competence. For employers, it can improve business productivity and employee effectiveness. CPD may help to remove an individual’s knowledge gaps and improve their adaptability and employability. This should open pathways to career progression and allow individuals to shape the direction of their career.

IChemE provides CPD opportunities and advice for members, and to comply with the regulatory bodies’ requirements, specifically includes CPD as part of the requirements for continuing membership in all professional grades post-qualification.

Annually, IChemE audits a sample of members for ongoing evidence of their CPD. Members selected are required to complete a CPD submission form outlining their role, CPD processes, objectives, and CPD undertaken and planned in the previous and forthcoming cycles. Members are also expected to be able to reflect on the success of their CPD.

How does the CPD audit help me?

The audit aims to support members to fulfil their ongoing CPD obligations. Every member who participates in the audit receives individual written feedback from a trained CPD assessor and peer.

Anecdotally, members tell us that this feedback has helped them to improve their CPD processes.

So, what’s changing?

The audit process and CPD requirements remain the same. However, in response to stricter CPD rules set by the Engineering Council, IChemE’s CPD By-law 39 has been amended to ensure compliance. Members who persistently fail to engage with the CPD audit process from 2021 onwards are now at serious risk of losing their membership, in the same way that non-payment of subscriptions results in lapsing of membership.

How will I know if I have been selected for audit?

The audit reviews a proportion of members each year, and members are normally selected at random.

Look out for an email in November or December from the CPD team at IChemE to notify you if you have been selected to participate in 2021. There will also be several follow-up reminders if you happen to miss the first email.

Are any members exempt from the CPD audit?

Any professionally qualified member is eligible for audit. Once audited, members are exempt from being selected again for five years for any registration.

Members with extenuating circumstances or who are professionally inactive may be eligible for a deadline extension, deferral, or exemption, but they must contact the CPD team if this applies.

There are separate requirements for CPD audits for Registered Professional Engineer Queensland (RPEQ) registrants, which are available here:

How long do I have to complete a CPD submission and is any support available?

Members will be asked to provide a CPD return by 1 March 2021, although it is recommended you do so earlier if possible, in order to receive prompt feedback.

Guidance to support members to complete the submission form will be provided, and the CPD team is on hand to answer queries.

What happens if I don’t provide a CPD submission by the deadline?

Members who, despite reminders, repeatedly fail to provide a CPD return will receive notice of termination of their membership from IChemE’s Chief Executive, Jon Prichard. Please do invest time on your CPD for the good of your own career and for the wider community’s benefit to society. And if you have any questions, please contact

This article appeared in the latest issue of The Chemical Engineer.