A robust CPD can identify risk and help hone and improve knowledge and skills, writes Keelson DP CPD programme manager Kate Gillespie
Despite training programmes and competence schemes, dynamic positioning (DP) incidents caused by human error still occur. By investing in continuous professional development (CPD), vessel operators will be able to see how their fleets are performing to target training and resources where necessary, reducing the risk of human error.
Most maritime CPD is not true CPD; rather it is additional training without structure to support candidates ongoing, long-term development. This is a common misconception. CPD is not a finite course with a score-chasing assessment. That’s training. CPD is incremental, focussing on the needs of individuals, specific departments, vessels and fleets.
Effective DP CPD provides a process by which crew DP competence can be assured, allowing DP personnel to incrementally improve their skills and gradually absorb knowledge, and demonstrate measured improvements year-on-year (yoy).
The Keelson DP CPD programme was established in 2018 and is formally recognised for DP CPD, meeting the framework of IMCA M117 by the Nautical Institute. The programme is delivered as a two-step assessment process with detailed candidate reporting on areas for improvement after the first assessment. Upon completion, a Nautical Institute-recognised certificate is issued at three levels of achievement. Learning is supported with a free app, allowing candidates to access materials and expert knowledge.
An effective CPD process establishes baseline data for individual practitioners through to fleet level. It then provides a mechanism to support the improvement of knowledge. Finally, it measures that improvement to establish a new ‘baseline’.
“CPD is about continuously improving knowledge and developing expertise”
CPD is not about proving the status quo. It is about continuously improving knowledge and developing expertise. Therefore, testing must be challenging and stretch candidates beyond their Certificate of Competence and DP training.
A CPD programme offers the company a mechanism of comparing fleet results, not only before and after the first cycle, but yoy as the process continues. A robust assessment will produce a normally distributed bell curve, proving its validity and reliability. Statistically, the variance between two normally distributed achievement bell curves is known as the delta value (∆).
Effective CPD provides meaningful data at both the individual and company level. At a company level a quality CPD programme will identify differences and gaps in knowledge between vessels, departments and anonymised individuals.
Robust CPD identifies risk. Analysis of good CPD data will provide the individual and company with tools for knowledge improvement and focussed training. Areas of identified risk can form the basis of a strategic fleet training plan.
Before and after directed training
The accompanying spider graph shows the performance across the IMCA M117 competencies. There are six plots, two for deck (DPO) and two for engineers, and the final two a combined result. In each case results are shown before and after directed learning.
In total for a single vessel there are 36 measured data points in this programme, developed over a fleet of vessels, the data set grows exponentially. In order to identify risk and strategically manage training the ability to analyse data is extremely powerful.
The success of good DP CPD lies in the quality of the supported and directed learning and achieving CPD Δ.
To achieve CPD Δ, the directed learning must be related and situated within the rank and role of the DP practitioner, making the seafarer ready, willing, and able to improve. The industry has recognised that a different skill set and knowledge depth is required for all roles and ranks them from junior DPOs to chief engineers; it has produced competence guidance such as IMCA M117 and MTS PDDP2. This means that DP CPD must cover engineers and electrical technicians as well as deck officers because the engineering function that supports DP operation is equally critical; this is mostly overlooked.
It is not surprising that the data indicates a lag of DP knowledge in the engineering department, as these roles are not supported with any form of DP-specific mandated training.
CPD should take place in the workplace. The most effective learning is ‘situated learning’ for two reasons: firstly, the learner is in a work mind set and knowledge accessed will be associated with the appropriate work routine; secondly, the learner is far more willing to engage in CPD while still at work. Good CPD will solicit peer-to-peer discussions promoting engagement in the workplace. Training ashore, on the other hand, can often be seen as a standalone exercise that is not embedded in the work routine.
CPD should gradually and incrementally revisit knowledge, building on it and nudging the DP practitioner towards full understanding and mastery. CPD is the defence against skill fade and should be an incremental, cyclical process. It should allow the candidate to regularly assess their knowledge and skills and demonstrate to themselves and wider stakeholders a commitment to their craft knowledge. CPD should also support career development goals at a personal level.
Good CPD can be equated to the ISM code; there will always be gaps, but we prove we are actively seeking out those gaps and strive to improve. If ISM is defined as a systematic approach to management, then CPD is a systematic approach to competence. Robust CPD identifies and reduces risk.
Kate Gillespie – Snapshot CV