The Future of Their Profession

Posted on September 3, 2015


One of the last sessions from the CIfA Conference-

The Future of Their Profession

Receiving a Royal Charter is a very significant recognition of the Institute and its work. It acknowledges the professionalism of CIfA members, and allows us all to seek or assert parity of esteem with fellow professionals in other chartered institutes. So how do we capitalise on this opportunity? How does our position with compare with that of other professions and professional associations? What we can learn from what they have done, how they see the future, and how they are facing up to it?


The future generation of architects

Robert Firth, Council member RIBA, Vice President Royal Society of Architects in Wales

Future generations – Gen Y and Gen Z – are bringing different skill sets, attitudes and priorities into the profession. Architecture is a vocation which can fulfill many of the key drivers for the new generations – digital technologies, altruism through design, creative thought processes and a fast paced environment to work in. Conversely the new generations will also change the profession of architecture to suit their preferred ways of working and designing. We anticipate virtual practices, a portfolio of careers, numerous semi-architectural spin off roles and a major change to the working environment and site operations. The architectural profession and the whole construction industry could be very different in the near future.

Robert Firth has served on RIBA Council member 2000-2006 and 2014-2017, was President of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales President 1999-2001 (about to be elected for a second time (2015-2017)), has been a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Welsh School of Architecture for 16 years and is a Past Chair of the Construction Industry Council in Wales. In his career he has been Principal Architect at Swansea City Council 1992-1995, Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord 1995-2005, Head of Architecture at Capita Architecture 2005-2010 and Managing Principal at HOK International 2010-2013.

Post-Charter depression and how to avoid it

Alastair McCapra, Chief Executive, CIPR

The number of royal charters granted to professional bodies and learned societies has never been higher – making those who don’t have one feel ever more pressured. Working towards achieving chartered status can take years of planning and preparation, and involve some nasty internal feuds. Yet is quite common for organisations which have achieved chartered status to experience a ‘hangover’ and perhaps to wonder why they ever bothered becoming chartered in the first place. The journey to chartership is often buoyed up with mirages, the passage leaves you feeling seasick, and the attractions of the new port are often disappointing.

Alastair McCapra will talk about some of the issues faced by other organisations in obtaining their chartered status. He will also suggest ways that these problems can be overcome to ensure that the newly-chartered professional body is able to deliver on the promise that chartership originally offered.

Alastair is Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and was previously Chief Executive of the Landscape Institute and the Institute of Conservation. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a board member of Wikimedia UK, the charity that promotes the sharing of knowledge on Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Presented by Alison Richmond, Kate Kendall and Alex Llewellyn at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

Twenty-first century challenges for professionals and professional institutes

Professor Andy Friedman, University of Bristol and CEO of PARN

The 21st century is already proving to be particularly challenging for professionals and professional institutes. Competition is rising from many sources, new professions are developing and old ones are widening their jurisdictions, invading each other’s space. In particular competition is growing exponentially from information freely available on the Internet which, in the past, would only have been available through professionals. In addition automation of tasks and the appearance of new instruments to carry out tasks still in the remit of professionals seem to be speeding up.

Challenges of new media are greater than these direct effects. The availability of information about examples of professional incompetence or misconduct is much greater with the Internet and, more recently, social media. Trust in most social institutions has been declining. In addition a new broad concern with authenticity has been arising over the last few years (this may be a consequence of reality TV shows). Together there is an imperative for professionals not only to maintain their competence, but to be seen to do so. Not only an imperative for professional institutes to come down on instances of incompetence and misconduct, but to be seen to do so. In addition there is a need to identify efforts towards maintaining (and raising) competence of professionals and raising the reputation of the profession and, as far as possible, to measure them.

Important moves to raise the trustworthiness of professionals and their perceived trustworthiness are being undertaken by professional institutes. However this may be viewed as just so much window-dressing by many. The challenge will be to demonstrate the effectiveness of these policies, for professional institutes and professionals to demonstrate authentic trustworthiness.

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