The Importance of Continuing Education

While these 23 million individuals represent the very core of an emerging society that is more inclined to studying and learning, the remaining individuals are excluded from these learning experiences due to reasons of time, cost, or even personal issues.

Over the last few years, the number of adults who are continuing with their education has increased tremendously. This term “continuing education” describes the opportunity and process of learning new skills and acquiring knowledge that is far superior to what we are taught during our formal schooling years.

Most people opt for continued education to further their knowledge base and even their employability.

Continuing Education vs. Traditional

Usually, what we learn in all of those long, arduous years of our formal schooling are just basic skills that are good enough to help us start working, but not good enough to take us further in our careers, especially with the rapid changes and advancements in technology that demands for a more sophisticated and educated workforce.

Students who participate in continuing their education are generally working professionals who seek to further advance and promote their intellectual capabilities while still working. Since their time is divided between studies and full-time work, they have to be extremely motivated in order to succeed. One of the biggest characteristics that distinguish students who are participating in continuing education is their tendency to relate the lessons that they learn in class to their work experience.

Instructors must have the proper and appropriate practical experience and knowledge in order to address the issues and concerns of these special students. Students involved in continuing education can be very selective when it comes to choosing their courses. The courses that they choose have to be in some way relevant to their work and should be able to benefit them. If the right course is chosen, it can benefit you a great deal both educationally and professionally.

More and more adults are now engaged in continuing education that leads to formal qualifications that provide them with the adequate knowledge pertaining to a certain area of study. Furthermore, continuing education also provides us with a certain pride of accomplishment as we take our courses.

Offering an affordable, faster, and definitely more focused means of acquiring career or personal objectives, continuing education credentials can be put on resumes and presented anywhere as evidence of the individual’s professional studies.

The Importance of ‘Continuing Education’ in the Workplace

A skilled workforce will always result in increased economic productivity. Here is how continuing education benefits the working force:

o A more skilled workforce is always more productive – These days, skills and education are seen as the most important elements of the employability and income potential of a candidate. Since the economy has shifted to one that values an educated workforce more than an uneducated workforce, employers are now seeking both educated and skilled workers. The demand for continuing education has thus increased twofold.

o Continuing education helps employers retain better employees while remaining as competitive as ever – A more educated employee will always be more productive, so companies have now started hiring employees who are continuing with their education. Continuing education can be seen as a way to retain the better, more educated employees.

With the rapid advancement of the information technology sector, continuing education will not be confined to only physical space. Distance learning through interactive media will form a major part of continuing education. The internet will also play a huge role in delivering the course materials to the students.

A virtual course that is aimed at extending an individual’s knowledge beyond those formal years of education has now become reality. With respect to all of this development in the field of continuing education, we have only one question to ask: how much further can continuing education go?

How to Become a Florida Construction Continuing Education Provider

The State of Florida requires all certified and registered contractors licensed by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) to complete 14 hours of continuing education biannually to renew their construction trade license. Those licensed contractors who fail to complete their continuing education requirements by the license expiration date may face non-renewal or disciplinary action. This requirement has been in effect since December of 1993 for Florida construction contractors.

First you will need to write or compose 14 hours of continuing education courses in total. One hour is defined as 50 minutes of classroom-course work excluding breaks or recesses.

The following are the core or required construction continuing education courses and are one hour in length: workplace safety, business practices, workers’ compensation, laws and rules, an advanced module approved by the Florida Building Commission, and wind mitigation (This requirement is only for the General, Building, Residential, Specialty, Roofing, Glass or Glazing construction contractors). The remaining 8 (or 9) hours can be of any general topic that would be of interest to a licensed construction professional. Any course topic that is a sales presentation or promotion will be denied approval.

Next you will need to register with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) on form DBPR CILB 4354-1. This form requires the usual information about the business name, address, telephone number, type of business organization, etc.

The registration form wants you to detail for each individual construction continuing education course the following information: the course syllabus, course description, course topic, course timeline, course objective, and the evaluation method. Next the DBPR and CILB require the name of each instructor and their qualifications. Typically this is five or more years of trade experience detailed on a resume for each instructor submitted with the registration application. An exception is made for instructors with less than five years of experience; they must have a 4 year University degree or graduate degree in their field of study and be an active licensed contractor.

The fees are $250 for the continuing education (CE) course provider application and $25 for each hour of CE course instruction.

There is a section inquiring about any individual’s criminal background, any court judgments regarding dishonest dealing or fraud, and if you have ever been denied a State license or if you have had any State license revoked or suspended.

Upon receiving your approved course-provider number and course identity number(s) you can begin to offer your continuing education courses to construction contractors. Any promotion materials must list your continuing education course provider number and each assigned number identifying the individual CE course.

After a student completes a course you will be required to keep the following data:

  • The time, date and place each course is completed
  • The name & address of each instructor and their qualifications
  • Name, address and registration/certificate number of each course participant
  • Sign in/sign out sheet used at the site listing name, license number and signature
  • Internet courses require the registration information, access logs, and completion date in lieu of sign in sheets
  • Internet courses need proof of student’s identification verification data, password, and mother’s maiden name
  • Course syllabus for each course

After a contractor completes a CE course you will be required to issue a certificate of completion. This must have their name, their contractor certification or registration number, the course provider name, the course name, the date course offered/completed, the total continuing education hours and if the course included workers’ compensation, workplace safety, business practices or wind mitigation. All continuing education course attendance records are required to be kept for 4 years.

As a continuing education course provider you must electronically provide to the DBPR the list of attendees within 30 calendar days of the completion of the CE course or prior to the licensee’s renewal date, whichever occurs sooner.

Additionally please read the Florida Administrative Rule Chapter 61G4-18.

Management Continuing Education for Professional Engineers

Are you like many engineers; highly trained to solve technical problems but not as confident with your people skills? There is a big difference between engineering design and business management. In the engineering profession engineers are constantly studying to stay current on the latest technologies and engineering strategies. For many engineers it is extremely difficult to transition from engineer to manager. Since business and management are not usually classes in engineering college, engineers are expected to obtain their business skills through experience and continuing education. Unless you have a MBA, you will probably find it difficult to locate qualified continuing education sources with management courses tailored for engineers.

Most of the State Licensing Boards require Professional Engineers to renew their professional licenses periodically with a minimum number of continuing education units. These units are usually Professional Development Hours (PDH) or Continuing Education Units (CEU). One PDH is equivalent to one hour of course education, and one CEU is equivalent to ten PDH or ten hours of course education. To obtain these units of continuing education the professional engineer will attend or teach the seminars, classes, or courses, write articles, or sit on professional boards or committees. The majority of engineers obtain their credits by attending conferences or seminars.

Nearly all of the states that require continuing education credits accept business or managerial courses as long as they are related to engineering. In other words you can not take a class in “How to start your own Retail Business” and expect to receive continuing education credit for renewing your professional engineering license. But you can take a course in “Engineering Business Marketing Techniques” and receive full credit.

In addition, most State Licensure Boards do not pre-approve courses for continuing education credit. This responsibility is usually left to the engineer to understand the state codes and to screen the courses appropriately. The Board will either accept or decline the courses after the engineer has submitted the license renewal application and listed the completed and credits received.

Engineering managerial courses can include topics on Engineering Business Plan, Engineering Operations, Engineering Marketing, Financials, Proposals, Leadership, and many others. To acquire the necessary continuing education units, engineers can find these courses in the following sources;

Community College and University Continuing Education Courses – These institutions regularly offer courses on numerous topics. Since the courses have to appeal to a wide audience, they usually do not cover technical topics that would be of interest to engineers. You can find business topics, but these courses are very general. Management courses that can apply to engineers my have words like “professional services” and “technical industry” in the course title.

Vendor Seminar (Lunch Presentation) – This has been one my favorite sources. It usually starts by a product vendor giving you a call. He will ask if you would be interested in a presentation at your office. If you are interested you may say “Yes, but I will need for the presentation to be made at my office during lunch our hour. The attendees will be my engineers and designers, and I will need for you to bring lunch.” Your team will listen to the vendor’s presentation, review his products and literature, ask technical questions, and enjoy lunch. Each of your Professional Engineers gains about 0.5 PDH.

On-the-Job Training – Some firms actually have monthly training sessions for their engineers and support staff. The subjects can be on a wide array of technical, ethical, and managerial topics. As long as the subject covered, who made the presentation, who attended the training, date of the training session, and time spent training is documented, these sessions can count as continuing education.

Seminars – These courses are often held in a hotel conference room for a few hours to several days. Usually the courses offer continuing education credit of 8 PDH per day. If you have to travel to attend the seminar, your additional expenses beyond the cost of the seminar will include lodging, air fares, rental car, and dining. A three-day course can easily exceed several thousands dollars. Also take into account that during this time you will not be working on any contracts, your company will loss billable hours.

Convention and Conferences – These events offers the attendee a multitude of course topics. Attending one four-day convention, you can easily obtain all of the continuing education credits needed to renew your professional license. Like seminars if the convention is away from your home town, you will have additional expenses including lodging, air fares, rental car, and dining. Also since you are away from your office, you will loss billable hours. Again, a convention can cost you or your office thousands of dollars.

Home Study Courses – These courses have been around for a long time; long before the computer. The course material is sent to your home. You study the material, answer the quiz, and return the quiz. A week or two later a Course Completion certificate is sent to you. These types of course are being replaced by Online Courses as discussed below.

Online Seminars – This is becoming a very popular program. Seminars that are online are often quite a bit less expensive than actually attending a seminar. Not only are the courses cheaper, but the attendee also saves due to no traveling, lodging, dining, or other expenses. Of course, the attendee will have to find a quite area to sit-up the computer and speakers, and to post a sign on the door saying “Do Not Disturb”. Once the seminar is completed you receive a Certificate of Completion with the number of PDH or CEU earned.

Online Courses – These courses are much like the home study course but everything is done over the internet. You can take the course 24/7, and you usually have instant access to the quiz and the certificate of completion. These courses are the most economical and convenient for the engineer. You can just about study any topic; technical, ethical, or managerial. Most websites tend toward the technical topics. While only a few websites specialize in the business of engineering. Since most of these courses are written by engineers, it is understandable that most of the courses are technical.

Most engineers have excellent technical skills, but not necessarily the same level of expertise in business management and marketing. It is the responsibility of the engineer to develop these management skills through continuing education. Continuing education can be obtained through Community Colleges, Universities, Professional Training Programs, Professional Organizations, and online training courses. In most states continuing education courses qualify for continuing education units (CEU) or Professional Development Hours (PDH).

In this article we have discussed the different sources for engineering continuing education. The transition from engineer to manager can be difficult, but there are resources available to obtain the necessary knowledge. Acquiring the necessary management skills can be the difference between a good and a bad manager.