Launching January 2019
The Continuing Education for safety codes officers (SCOs) was designed with input from SCOs and their employers. SCOs will be able to track their credits through Council Connect.
The program was designed to be:
- Achievable – An SCO working full time needs only 10 hours of Continuing Education a year.
- Flexible – People learn in different ways so there is the opportunity to gain credits for all kinds of activities.
- Relevant – SCOs and accredited organizations have varying learning needs. SCOs and their employers are able to pick the activities most relevant to them.
The continuing education program is 30 credits over a three year period. The Council recommends 10 credits a year. There are three categories in which SCOs can obtain credits: formal, informal and practice. Only SCOs who have a designation of powers may claim credits for practice.
One credit can be earned for each one hour spent on a continuing education activity to a maximum amount.
The objectives of the Council's continuing education program include the following:
- to improve consistency in the delivery of inspections, permit issuance, and reporting across the province;
- to increase awareness of current technology, issues, trends, and practices affecting each discipline;
- to enhance the knowledge and skills of individual SCOs, and to add support to their professional learning goals;
- to support accredited organizations in delivering safety codes services that meet the requirements of their quality management plans;
- to enhance the public perception of the occupation of safety codes officer and the credibility of the safety codes system as a whole; and
- to align SCO certification requirements with those established by other certified occupations and by similar organizations in other provinces, such as BOABC.
The new continuing education program was developed in 2014 with input from a working group made up of representatives from each of the technical disciplines governed by the Safety Codes Act.
Categories for Continuing Education
There are 3 categories for learning activities: Formal, Informal, and Practice.
1. Formal Learning Category
This category recognizes a broad range of learning activities which may include courses, conferences, and webinars. Formal activities are structured learning activities that provide evidence of attendance, assessment, or completion, in the form of transcripts, certificates etc.
One hour of attendance at a Formal activity equals one credit up to a maximum of five credits per activity.
The maximum number of credits allowed per individual activity in a three year cycle are as follows:
- Courses (five credits maximum per course)
- Conferences (five credits maximum per conference)
- Webinars (five credits maximum per webinar)
- Workshops (five credits maximum per workshop)
- Seminars (five credits maximum per seminar)
- Lectures (five credits maximum per lecture)
- Being mentored in the Council mentorship program (five credits maximum per reporting cycle)
2. Informal Learning Category
This category recognizes activities where SCOs participate in developing or spreading knowledge, standards, and practices relevant to the occupation or safety codes system. Informal may also include learning that takes place through attending trade shows, discussion groups, or self-study. Informal activities may occur as part of the SCO's job responsibilities or may take place outside of employment. SCOs may be asked to provide evidence of attendance, assessment, or completion.
The maximum number of credits allowed in a three year cycle are shown below:
- Delivering presentations (five credits maximum per presentation/lecture)
- Teaching, facilitating, and course advising (five credits maximum per course, seminar, or workshop)
- Preparing course or presentation material (five credits maximum per course, workshop, seminar, or presentation)
- Membership on Council or a Council working group (five credits maximum per Council or working group)
- Involvement in a professional or industry association (five credits maximum per association)
- Involvement in code or standard committees (five credits maximum per committee)
- Being a mentor in a formal mentoring program (five credits maximum per reporting cycle )
- Professional writing (five credits maximum per reporting cycle)
- Self-study or research (three credits maximum per reporting cycle)
- Professional Tours (three credits maximum per reporting cycle )
- Discussion groups (three credits maximum per reporting cycle)
- Public or community boards/associations (three credits maximum per reporting cycle)
- Trade Shows (five credits maximum per reporting cycle)
- Volunteering in a capacity related to the SCOs occupation (three credits maximum per cycle)
3. Practice Category
The work of an SCO offers daily opportunities for learning on the job. The practice category captures this learning as a part of the continuing education program.
SCOs may report up to nine credits in each reporting cycle for work as a full time SCO as indicated by a designation of powers validated by an accredited organization.
SCOs who do not work full time for a reporting cycle, may receive one credit for each four months equivalent worked as an SCO in that three-year reporting cycle.
Continuing Education Exemptions
SCOs who are on a parental or medical leave may apply for a program exception. More details will be available closer to the project launch.
SCOs who do not submit a completed continuing education report may face discipline, up to and including suspension of certification.
How do I report my completed continuing education credits?
Documents showing completion of activities must be collected by the SCO and copies submitted to the Council's online portal, Council Connect, no later than the end of the SCO's 3 year reporting cycle.
There is no minimum number of credits that must be earned each year; however on or before the end of the 3 year cycle, each SCO must provide the Council with an online report showing completion of 30 credits for that reporting cycle.
Reporting will be done online and documents providing evidence of the completed activity will be uploaded electronically to the Council's new site, Council Connect. SCOs might want to report their completed credits at the end of each activity so that paperwork doesn't get misplaced, or they might prefer to submit everything at once at the end of the 3 years.
Why do we need this continuing education program?
The Council was asked by stakeholders to develop a continuing education program for SCOs. Many highly regarded organizations, such as ASET, APEGA, Building Officials' Association of BC (BOABC), and so on, require continuing education to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to remain current on technical matters and are able to improve their professional skills.
Codes change, new technical information becomes available, and the public expects a professional level of interaction with the people who deliver the services under the Safety Codes Act. Continuing education is way to ensure that strengthening knowledge and skills where needed is moved from "someday" to a regular requirement.
Finally, SCOs who continue to update their learning and skills will strengthen the safety codes system across the province
How will continuing education benefit SCOs?
Continuing education will help safety codes officers add to their technical knowledge and improve their skills in their work as SCOs. It will enhance the occupation of safety codes officer and contribute to a higher level of respect with builders, owners, and members of the public who become aware of the training required to become an SCO or who experience a more professional level of interaction with SCOs. It is also intended to allow SCOs to identify areas of new technology and best practices that they would like to study to work at a higher level and with more confidence. Some Council training will earn continuing education credits, and SCOs who want to move to a new Group or Level can gain continuing education credits at the same time.
Participation in a continuing education program will benefit SCOs by:
- helping maintain and enhance knowledge of current practices, technologies, and trends in each discipline and in the safety codes system;
- supporting career development and meeting performance or learning goals set by SCOs or by their employers; and
- aligning with other regulated occupations and enhancing the credibility of SCOs by demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning.
How will employers benefit from a continuing education program for SCOs?
Accredited organizations will be able to provide a better level of service as a result of continuing education. Benefits will come through enhanced skills, knowledge, and abilities of SCOs. The requirement to meet continuing education requirements in other organizations has been beneficial to those organizations in identifying areas where more training is needed; for example, a high-level employee can act as a mentor for a newer employee, or an employer may arrange a lunch session on a topic that relates to all employees.
It will provide support for training that is currently provided by employers, and the performance and succession planning programs that many organizations already have in place. Most employers already provide training in the form of safety talks, code update information, new product demonstrations, and so on. The key will be to develop a culture where continuing education is recognized when it occurs naturally and then report it on Council Connect.
Is this a mandatory (required) program?
Yes. All active SCOs will need to complete continuing education activities and report their completed credits to the Council in order to maintain their certification(s).
Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for SCOs who are experiencing illness, working out of the province or other reasons. A request for an exemption must be made in writing to the Administrator, setting out the circumstances. Supporting documents may be required.
How many hours of continuing education are required and how do I get it?
SCOs are required to report 30 credits of continuing education in 3 years. Generally speaking, one credit is earned for one hour of continuing education, so 30 hours over 3 years – or approximately 10 hours a year - is required.
If an SCO is certified in more than one discipline, group or level, the SCO is only required to complete 30 credits. They are not required to complete 30 credits per discipline/
There are maximum amounts in most categories. For example, attendance at an all-day conference will earn 5 credits in the Formal category. If you were also a presenter, you could add credits for preparing presentation materials as well.
If you work outside a major center and have less opportunity to attend trade shows or classroom courses, you will be able to obtain your credits through activities such as safety meetings, presentations at work, learning computer applications for work, researching new products or technology, and so on.
It will be important to recognize WHEN continuing education happens – if a co-workers gives a "lesson" on how to do a task, you can get an email and use that as documentation of a completed learning activity.
Finally, continuing education activities that have been taken as part of membership in another professional organization may also be used to fulfill CE requirements for the Council if the activity meets the Council's eligibility criteria.
What should I keep as evidence of completing an activity?
SCOs will be able to track their learning activities through Council Connect.
The new Council Connect online system will randomly select approximately 7% of submitted continuing education reports for review. If selected, an SCO will be asked to provide evidence of completed continuing education activities.
The following are some examples that would show that a learning activity was completed:
Course completion letter or certificate;
Certificate or letter of attendance;
Email confirmation of registration;
Minutes or sign in sheet from a meeting;
Email from your supervisor confirming that you attended a learning activity;
Photo showing you at the event, etc.
SCOs should be prepared to submit evidence of completion of activities in the event that their report is reviewed. Please contact the Council if you are not sure what to submit to verify completion of a learning activity.
What are the criteria for determining whether a continuing education activity is eligible for credit?
The program is designed to be flexible and to recognize a broad range of activities and delivery methods. The goal is to accommodate different individual interests, career goals, learning styles, resources, and geographic locations.
To be eligible, activities will add to the knowledge or skills of an SCO in one or more of the following areas:
- the technical discipline(s) in which the SCO is certified or another discipline;
- the SCO's long-term career growth and development goals;
- the needs of the employer or relevant professional associations;
- the interests of the SCO;
- public safety or the safety codes system.
Continuing education activities that have been taken as requirements for membership in another professional organization may be recognized if the activity meets the Council's eligibility criteria.
Council courses and code update training will be eligible for credits.
Who decides which training or other activities the SCO should do?
SCOs and/or their employers are responsible for selecting relevant activities to support their own continuing education and meet the program requirements.
The Council encourages SCOs to discuss their continuing education plans and goals with their employers, and to consider the requirements of other professional associations they may belong to. Many activities that are required or requested by an employer or a professional association can also be used to meet the program requirements for SCOs (the same "course" provided by the employer may also be recorded for the Council's continuing education).
To make the selection of continuing education activities easier, the Council will post activities offered by the Council or by other organizations on the Council website.
The continuing education program begins January 1, 2019. If you are certified after that date, your continuing education reporting date will be the same date as your first renewal, 3 years after your certification date.
What if I work only part of the 3 year cycle?
Safety codes officers who work full time will be required to report 30 credits in each 3 year cycle (from one certification anniversary date to the next renewal 3 years later). However, not all SCOs work full time. Some work part time by choice; experience periods of employment; take advantage of parental leave; or may work outside Alberta for part of the 3 year reporting cycle. Other SCOs may have serious health or other issues that prevent them from working full time.
SCOs who work the full time equivalent of 4 months in the 3 year cycle will be required to participate in the continuing education program, but with a proportional number of credits required.
SCOs may apply in writing to the Administrator of Certification for a reduction or total exemption from continuing education, setting out the circumstances and providing supporting documentation. The Administrator may grant exemptions based on the evidence provided. If an exemption is refused, the SCO may ask to have the decision reviewed.
What if I change employment part-way through a 3 year reporting cycle?
If an SCO changes employment, it is recommended that he or she request copies of any training documentation in the custody of the employer. Credits can be earned and reported whether the SCO is employed or not, and regardless of who the employer is.
Completed activities can be entered into the Council portal at any time, and it is recommended that SCOs enter their completed activities as they occur to ensure that credits are not lost or forgotten as a result of a change in employment.