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Online education’s time arrives

By Eamonn Ryan

The arrival of coronavirus to these shores prompted a rapid shift away from the traditional face-to-face style of learning most of us were familiar with since the first day we attended primary school. The move to emergency remote teaching, learning and assessment was a huge challenge, but one which all PIRB/IOPSA staff engaged in overnight.

“Online is the most cost-effective way to learn today – and this applies even more so to Continuing Professional Development (CPD), where plumbers already have full time jobs and their time is at a premium,” says Lea Smith, chairman of the PIRB.

Online CPD goes to the heart of what CPD actually stands for – plumbers keeping abreast of changes in the industry and technical innovation. If plumbers are not online they’re not moving with the times and need CPD even more than most. To acquire PIRB CPD points entirely online is feasible, he says, but there remain any number of alternative means including Plumbing Africa magazine and some activities such as Plumbers’ Evenings which provide the social aspect that many plumbers crave.

“Online is therefore only one manner in which individuals can acquire CPD points. If you go to the PIRB’s CPD portal there is a wide range of ways in which to do so: apprenticeship training; a first aid course; having a technical article published; even simply issuing COCs,” says Smith. He suggests that the best way to accumulate sufficient CPD points is to not leave it to the last minute, when options might consequently be more limited.

Why CPD?

All trades and professions today have a CPD programme, and in fact all trade organisations such as PIRB are encouraged by SAQA regulations to implement such a programme. The concept of CPD is therefore universal.

“CPD is a universal requirement as a form of safeguarding the public, assisting the plumber in ensuring he/she does not lag behind their colleagues, but also enhancing the image of the industry. There are entirely new forms of technology coming out that if plumbers do not become trained in will result in specialist installers encroaching on the plumbing industry.”

CPD is important because it ensures plumbers continue to be competent in their trade or profession. It is important to enable plumbers to get ahead and to stay ahead, furthering their career and improving their income. “The ultimate outcome of well-planned CPD process is that it safeguards the public, the employer, the plumber as a professional person and their career.

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