Encouraging our staff to gain professional accreditation benefits our staff, our business and, of course, our clients. Staff benefit by obtaining external recognition of their competency and acknowledgment that they have reached the next level in their career. Commercially, our business benefits, as professional accreditation is mandatory for some contracts and clients are willing to pay more for highly qualified, accredited staff. It also contributes to our Investors in People standard. Our clients also benefit, as professional accreditation requires continuing professional development and/or training, so our staff are providing the latest sustainable risk-based and/or engineering solutions.
Recently, RSK principal geoenvironmental consultant Katie Foster qualified as the youngest SiLC on record. Both Katie and RSK are suitably proud of this achievement. The words of our deputy chairman and former head of geosciences, Peter Witherington, are certainly ones I would echo: “Katie’s initiative, drive and good use of the opportunities available in RSK have enabled her career to flourish. We all need to take our hats off to what she has achieved through skill and determination.”
Katie admits that becoming a SiLC had its challenges, primarily finding the time to complete it. “My advice to others thinking of applying would be to be prepared,” she comments. “You need to make sure you can find the time to complete it. Without this, you will put yourself under too much pressure.”
Support from employers is integral to ensuring that individuals can enjoy the accreditation process and balance it with their regular workload. This is something I am proud to say that RSK is very strong at providing. We provide mentors and paid time away from the office to prepare applications, or other incentives that reward staff. The main professional bodies through which staff gain professional accreditation also have an allocated head of profession who oversees the mentors and can provide more information on the professional body they represent.
Katie’s words on the reasons why accreditation was the right choice for her emulate my own thoughts and RSK’s mantra: “For me it was much more than making my curriculum vitae look good. I spend a lot of my time investing in improving the skills and standards within our geosciences business and I want to keep working at that. My accreditation was important for the recognition, both for me, that I am doing a good job, and for representing my skills to clients and other peers within the industry. It is demonstrative of good quality within the industry. People with good skills and experience are recognised.”
The high level of support that RSK offers staff aiming for accreditation illustrates the importance we place on it and the high quality of staff it represents. I asked Katie what she would like to do next. Her reply reflects RSK’s flexibility in this regard: “I would potentially like to be involved with some research projects,” she said. Encouraging our staff to pursue their interests is important to us because it forms part of their development into the best, most-competent staff who are highly qualified in the topics that they are truly passionate about. Accreditation is just one of the badges that demonstrate this.
Lucy Thomas chairs RSK’s head of professions’ meetings on behalf of the UK leadership team. She is also chief scientist for RSK.
SiLC is the only independent accreditation scheme for land quality professionals in the UK. For more information, please visit www.silc.org.uk.