With a third of your training requirement now behind you, it’s time to encounter another milestone

The nine-month meeting has arrived and for all graduate route one candidates a third of the minimum APC training requirement has passed. It often does not seem possible that time can pass so quickly but here we are, again, another milestone to navigate and often candidate’s find themselves already behind with their APC administration and competency experience recording.

As time passes it becomes increasingly important for the candidate, supervisor and counsellor to build and maintain a firm grasp of what is happening with the candidate’s progress and the targets ahead. This should certainly be the case by now. I always suggest to candidates that if any party to this process is not quite up to speed, the candidate should address the issue and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is taking place.

The nine-month meeting is normally just between the candidate and their supervisor but if the counsellor is available then get them involved as well. The meeting primarily focuses on a formal catch-up of progress and a good time to review and agree competency levels which have been achieved since the 6 month meeting.

As we near the half way mark it is also worth reminding everyone that the interim assessment (in the UK) is no longer relevant and the focus is much more on the new final assessment templates and specifically the experience record which should be completed by the candidate as time progresses.

Regular communication between candidate and their mentors should have continued since the last formal meeting at six months and any action points identified, achieved and made available for discussion at this point.

It is important for all parties involved to realise what is expected of them in the APC process. Let us consider each person:

Candidate The candidate should now be in full swing and have a broad understanding of what they are doing. They should be in a position to provide up to date and relevant information regarding their competency achievement, professional development and experiences. By completing the Final Assessment templates as they go along, the candidate can assist the supervisor and counsellor in their understanding of the candidate’s current levels of experience and competency. It is vitally important that the supervisor and counsellor have a good grasp of the candidate’s ability as competency levels need discussing, reviewing and signing off.

The new RICS Final Assessment Documentation Templates available at www.rics.org/apc.

I always suggest submitting this information to the supervisor and counsellor a week in advance of the planned meeting. Ensure when recording experience (template six), relevant real-life examples are recorded.

Supervisor The supervisor has the main focus of this milestone and will discuss with the candidate the progress made so far and review competency levels signed off to date and assess if there are any more that can be reviewed and signed off. The supervisor role is a very important one as three months is sufficient time for things to start going wrong. Early warnings can be identified now and rectified before any damage is done.

Supervisors should also realise that they need to continue questioning the candidate on their recorded experiences and relate that to the depth of competency. The APC Requirements and Competencies guide and relevant Pathway guides are useful resources for this. Ultimately the more the supervisor questions the candidate now the less stressed they will be of the final assessment assessors. Always ask open ended questions asking candidate’s to explain themselves and ask them to give real-life examples and why the examples given are relevant. Avoid the scatter gun approach or hypothetical questioning as this looses focus from the declared competencies a candidate will be questioned around at the final assessment.

Often I get supervisors and counsellors who tell me that a candidate needs to know ’everything’ which is not the case. Candidates must have a full appreciation of their declared competencies and I believe that the competency requirements if reviewed properly and focused on by the candidate to ensure the breadth of each competency is addressed then the candidate will be adequately competent to get through the final assessment

Counsellor The counsellor’s role at this stage is not to get involved formally. However I always suggest that if they are available it is important to all meet together and a much more proactive counsellor will probably appreciate the regular update rather than leaving it every six months where things can get forgotten.

The nine-month meeting documents My six-month meeting article gave a lot of detail regarding the new templates which may be worth refreshing yourself on as I will not repeat that information here. It is vitally important that the templates are completed and regularly updated to provide a real picture of the candidate’s achievement to date.

PLEASE NOTE: RICS made some minor changes to the final assessment templates and uploaded version two onto the RICS website on 15 June 2009. RICS state that if you are already using version 1 you need not upgrade to version two. I have done the copy and paste exercise from a version one to version two copy of the templates and it took me only about 30 minutes. If you want my advice, upgrade now and copy your recorded information across.

If you want to know the latest changes to the APC and specifically the latest changes to the templates see the DeLever APC Candidate Companion (version two) www.delever.com/companion

Reviewing competency The achievement record (template three) continues to be important at the nine-month meeting as it should now start to show a fair amount of days of recorded experience against each of the competencies. The experience record (template six) should also be developing well with explanations of real-life examples.

It is always important to realise that competency achievement is not a tick box exercise. Supervisors are required to undertake this process very seriously, only signing off the candidate if “real life” experience and evidence can be clearly demonstrated.

Rules of conduct I speak with too many candidates who do not realise the importance of the Rules of conduct and this plays out in the Final Assessment generally ending in referral if a full appreciation of the Rules of Conduct and Ethical matters cannot be given.

The final flag The end of the meeting comes when everything has been discussed and the nine month meeting report has been drafted. Ultimately, the nine month meeting should deliver the following:

  • The candidate documentation is up to date
  • The candidate has been probed and tested on competency experience to date
  • The relevant competency and levels are signed off (I would expect to see a further development of level 2 competencies
  • The documentation has been reviewed and any skills gaps highlighted to ensure a plan has been produced for the ongoing recording of competency experience. As before, everyone involved in the APC process needs to remain focused on the task ahead, making sure everything is kept up to date and progressed.

Look out for the APC Candidate Companion by DeLever, see www.delever.com/companion. Get involved with the RICS at www.rics.org/matrics