What is a professional institution?
A professional institution is a body of members who are all part of the same or similar professions. In the United Kingdom there are around 400 professional institutions with over 13 million members. The professional institution will ensure that their members are competent to carry out their work required by their profession, this is done by monitoring the development of their knowledge, ability and experiences. One of the ways a professional institution monitors the competency of their members is by asking them to record and submit their yearly CPD. Each institution will require different CPD requirements, this could be the number of compulsory hours and the type of learning recorded. Professional institutions will aid the professional development of their member by allowing them to attend conferences and events on relevant topics in the industry, by hosting networking events, by publishing technical information and allowing members to work towards professional recognition (such as chartership).
How do professional institutions link with apprenticeships?
To complete your apprenticeship you have to pass an exam called the end-point assessment. The organisations that can carry out end-point assessments are called end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) or awarding bodies, professional institutions can be awarding bodies. Professional institutions that are awarding bodies design the content of the end-point assessment and make sure all apprentices put forward for their end-point assessment have completed their qualifications and have evidenced all of their KSBs to show that they are competent in their role. Completing an end-point assessment with a professional body usually leads to membership due to having a professional recognition. The type of professional recognition can vary between industries for example ACA for chartered accountants and IEng for incorporated engineers. By obtaining professional recognition clients and other professionals in your industry can see how competent you are and will assign you relevant work as they know you have the knowledge, ability and experiences to do so.
How to get involved with your professional institution?
As an apprentice you are able to sign up to your relevant professional institutions by joining as a student member, this means your membership is free. If your apprenticeship could lead to a number of careers sign up to those relevant institutions so that you can attend events and webinars to determine what your passion is. By attending in person events, you will be able to network with professionals in your industry and learn about the projects they are working on and you can ask them questions on how they developed their career. Making connections with people can lead to a number of opportunities in the future as you will have a good reputation in the industry and those at the events can see you developing your knowledge and skills as you attend more professional events. Being part of a professional institution means you have access to competitions. By partaking in competitions you will have to develop your knowledge and skills in the examined area increasing your competency. You will also be able to learn how other members approached the same problem when the final decision is made, this will also allow you to look at a similar problem from different angles in the future.