Eleanor Cochrane speaks to Joni Tyler, head of the RIBA CPD Providers Network, about how continuing professional development can benefit your business
What is RIBA's approach to CPD?
Continuing professional development will have been mandatory for RIBA members for three years in March. All of our qualified architects have to put in 35 hours of CPD along with 100 points – the point system is where architects rate the quality of the CPD by reflecting on how it helps them to do their job better.

Ideally, we ask that half of architects' CPD points come from formal – course-based – activities. The other half can be gained from other less formal procedures such as reading, videos, study tours, shadowing or mentoring.

How do you ensure that members are carrying out their CPD requirements?
We monitor 5% of practices each year to ensure that CPD is being carried out. We tend to find that the majority of practices are undertaking it in a structured way.

If, after a series of requests, we don't receive the appropriate paperwork from any of these firms, they will be dropped from the register of practices – but this hasn't happened yet.

What areas does CPD cover?
CPD covers anything from using CAD or health and safety to – if you were going to work in Germany – learning German. Anything that helps you in your career.

It is true that architects tend not to have had much of an opportunity to learn business skills as part of their training, despite the fact that a large percentage of members run their own practices. This is an area where CPD can be very useful. It is not just about refreshing the things learned at college, it is also about learning new things and filling gaps in knowledge – which for a lot of people is on the business and management side of things.

We can also help members by pointing them in the right direction – for example towards the Small Business Service.

Is the scheme popular among members?
We are certainly finding that our courses and seminars are all booked up and doing well. Although it is something that all members have to do, I'd rather that they thought of CPD as something that will aid them in their careers – as their own tool that they can use to develop as architects and as businesspeople.

What next for the network?
We have links with various universities. We have joined up with the University of Reading to offer week-long CPD courses, which can be taken as individual CPD modules or can be used towards an MSc in Intelligent Buildings or Inclusive Environments.

We also want to push health and safety training at the moment as this is an important issue – we want to make it as easy for all architects to undertake this kind of training as possible. This is also why we want to develop

the online learning aspect of CPD, which is particularly helpful for those architects working overseas. We have about 5000 members working abroad and they are governed by the same CPD rules as our members in this country so it is important that they have access to training.