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Accreditation schemes clarify their CPD/LLL requirements

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 24-Mar-08 01:08:44 PM

Continual Professional Development (or Lifelong Learning) mock certificateAfter six weeks (and ongoing) of constant stalking, I can at last unveil the definitive CPD requirements guide for Domestic Energy Assessors and training providers.

Participating schemes:

  • Quidos (podcast & notes)
  • SAVA/NHER (podcast & notes)
  • Stroma (podcast)
  • Northgate (written answers)
  • Elmhurst (written answers)
  • Home Inspection Certification (podcast)
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) (written answers)
  • ECMK (written answers)
  • BRE (written answers)

The race to CPD/LLL

We know that in May of last year (2007), over 500 accredited DEAs and Home Inspectors (HIs) were looking forward to six months of hell. Since then, 500 has grown to over 7000 accredited DEAs (and counting). In just a few short weeks, therefore, a growing number of DEAs will step out of the shower, look into their bathroom mirror, gaze, smile, squint their eyes, purse their lips, and with a proud nod, declare: "My first year wildly exceeded all imaginable career expectations."

Right now, however (sorry to burst your dream-state, there), pressure is mounting to tackle CPD/LLL commitments. That's if you want to re-accredit for a second year, that is.

Note: BRE, Quidos, NHER/SAVA and Elmhurst have extended their first year-end dates for their members:

  1. BRE: Aug 2008
  2. Elmhurst: 10 Dec 2008 (for members who accredited before 10th Dec 07 only)
  3. Quidos: 14th Dec 2008
  4. NHER/SAVA: 31 st Jun 2008

CPD confusion

A growing sense of near-panic began sweeping over the DEA community around January. There appeared to be widespread confusion over what constitutes CPD/LLL activity, not to mention the requirements each accreditation scheme expected from members, and whether external training course providers would have their CPD courses recognised.

Due to the fun and games resulting from the delayed launch of Home Information Packs (HIPs) - such as the apparent lack of - and sometimes differing - CPD guidelines from the CLG; and the rush to indoctrinate non-domestic buildings into the EPC family (thus distracting the staff and resources of accreditation schemes and training providers) - many DEAs felt cornered into relying on assumptions and hearsay for guidance.

Hairdressing courses

This lack of clarity holds potential knock-on effects for well-meaning DEAs - DEAs who book hotel rooms in advance, for instance, and who invest time and money into both preparing, and advertising, their hairdressing course as "CPD-worthy" (by hairdressing, of course, I mean courses not directly related to energy assessments).

Efforts made in the genuine belief that students would have their course attendance universally recognised by all accreditation schemes.

Some might - they all might - but it could be costly and embarrassing not to find out first, because not all schemes are equal when it comes to CPD/LLL acceptability, as it turns out.

[Added (07/08/08): it seems the powers-that-be over at the CLG are considering a universal framework]

Due Diligence

Claiming a course as CPD-worthy is a powerful selling tool, meaning it is also potentially open to abuse too. This is partly because the term CPD is technically incorrect - probably a "carry-over" from the Home Inspector days.

The correct term is Lifelong Learning (LLL), which has subtle differences (see below).

Don't beat yourself up, though: during my conversations with scheme operators it soon became apparent that some posessed the same "CPD mindset". Which is not surprising when the CLG themselves, I discovered in my conversations, would sometimes give the LLL story to one scheme, and the CPD to another!


It's to do with the level of NVQ attached to the DipHI (level 4) and DipDEA (level 3) qualifications:

Home Inspectors do CPD - DEAs, Lifelong Learning.

The terms have been used interchangeably to describe the same thing when in fact there are subtle differences: essentially, LLL is less demanding.

However, less demanding can mean chaotic which is why some accreditation schemes have constrained the boundaries of acceptable course material to the actual role of conducting energy assessments... at least in this first embryonic year of the industry (I get the feeling some schemes may widen the scope in time).

The CPD training maze

There is an irony in all this: LLL for DEAs is now arguably more demanding as a system precisely because scheme operators demand different standards and requirements.

The result - unintended, I'm sure - is that DEAs and course providers have to negotiate a 'training maze' to ensure universal compliance.


For DEAs studying: It could mean difficulty in finding enough recognised courses to meet their annual quota - or at least find something that stretches them should providers choose to offer the "safer" refresher courses. Several DEAs have already expressed dissatisfaction with the apparent plentiful supply of "refresher courses", feeling they need a deeper insight into areas like building construction, for example, instead.

For training providers: The financial incentive lies with concentrating courses towards the schemes having the most DEAs - or restricting topics to those which are acceptable to the greatest number of schemes.

For DEAs wishing to offer courses: It's probable that DEAs will comply only with their own scheme requirements, which, given the geographical spread of DEAs, could render the whole exercise unviable - a shame, given many of them had previous careers within the building industry.

Open Standard

Acceptable to one - acceptable to all

All of which is why I asked each accreditation scheme if they would be in favour of an open standard, whereby, a course acceptable to one, is acceptable to all.

Most are in favour, but not all: One scheme against the idea said it was because they provide free CPD/LLL. Therefore, an open standard, they feel, might encourage every mutha and their dog to take advantage - understandable.

Understandable, but not insurmountable if we talk only about an open standard to which external course providers must meet, perhaps.

The bureaucracy of standards

Another scheme cited bureaucracy. Unfortunately, they may have a point: all schemes would have to agree a common minimum standard which, in turn, might be disruptive to schemes that find themselves having to "upgrade" their existing standards (written without casting any judgements, I hasten to add).

Some DEAs say having no standards at all would suit them just fine, regarding the requirements as just a further burden.

Others think accreditation schemes would be neglectful in their duties if they didn't act to safeguard - and enhance - industry standards.

Having spoken to several people who have provided CPD/LLL courses, some expressed surprise - bordering on shock - at the void of understanding many DEAs possess on some of the most basic of topics.

With stories of DEAs missing obvious wall thermostats hitting the media, maybe they have a point!

I don't think the bureaucracy argument is insurmountable, either, however: there are clearly areas of overlap - topics within the National Occupational Standards, for one - which could easily be approved by any scheme.

And then there is the number of LLL hours required: it makes sense to have parity across the board on that, surely?

[Added (07/08/08): again, it would appear from the minutes of recent DEA workshops held with the CLG, that serious thought is now being considered on imposing uniform parity on hours]

It's a low base to start from, I grant you, but it's a base to build upon, nevertheless. 

Courses of interest and richer diversity

Ultimately, I believe the real benefits of an open standard would come from the development of a richer, more diverse, range of courses, possibly encompassing other related topics such as home-grown solar/wind power generation, for example... afterall, they are set to become widespread.

Well-rounded Domestic Energy Assessors

It is surely better to have "well-rounded" DEAs engaged with the public, than not - DEAs knowledgeable of the wider industry responsible for propelling this nation towards renewables, for example.

If schemes could trust each other to "certify" diligently, I believe an open standard could actually encourage more cross-pollination, and therefore, more opportunities for all.

Schemes beware

And lest we forget, DEAs are already stating an intention to base their choice of scheme renewal, at least partly, on the CPD/LLL requirements of each.

In my opinion, it would be a huge mistake for the industry if the cumulative "knowledgebase" of DEAs gravitated towards the lowest common denominator - this could easily happen if accreditation schemes begin competing for renewals by lowering their required hours, for example.

Nine accreditation bodies policing one industry

In many ways, it's bad enough there are nine accreditation schemes to uphold a single standard set by the CLG. That being the case, though, it rests upon those accreditation bodies to meet that single standard whilst progressing as one industry... for that's what it is.

I commend the motion to the house.

Find out what the accreditation schemes require: CPD requirements guide for Domestic Energy Assessors and training providers.

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Posts: 2
DEAs too many in NW England no more please!
Reply #1 on : Mon September 29, 2008, 12:33:19
Dear Friends
Why don't the government officials go on TV and say thank you to all the DEAs and HIs that have been working over the last year but we do not require any more now.
Or they could do a survey of how many DEAs are working Full-time V Part-time, Will be re-Accrediting next year/not. Review the numbers and stop the training of new DEAs as the market is flooded.

In Cheshire, working for 1 year as an independant DEA I am in competition with fellow DEAs offering EPCs for stupid prices £35-£40 for any sized property.
To entice Letting Agents to sign them up:-
Free EPCs for one month, and letting the Agent mark up their work(EPC) by 100 % to sell onto the unsuspecting Landlord or vendor ie EPC £40 agent gets £80 + VAT shocking!
Why are DEAs so silly under valuing their work and all our careers like this? Because there are too many of us.
Please somebody say this is not sustainable and stop more people coming in..

Posts: 2
I agree
Reply #2 on : Wed October 29, 2008, 08:45:07
I'm just coming to the end of my training and I can already agree with Tina's comment! Part of the problem of course is that the training agencies are getting very well paid (by us students)to keep flooding the market...

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