Recently, whilst talking to a trainer in one of the UK police forces, he mentioned how their staff trained in police driving techniques had to undergo regular refresher training. It reminded me of the work related training that many professions undergo. National Health Service Staff, and their equivalents in other countries such as the Irish HSE, have to undergo regular mandatory training in their key professional skills. Skills ranging from manual handling to CPR. Similarly, other professions have their mandatory training.
Is this true of all professions? No. Two interesting examples of professions that not have regular mandatory skills training\updates are Higher Education Academics in this country; and of course politicians. A topic relevant to this blog when one considers the proportion of PhD researchers who aspire to an Academic and/or research career. Of course there is the teaching certificate, now mandatory in most UK Universities. However, this is a one off qualification; akin to the droves of people who do their driving test once and assume that this qualifies them to drive without any further training (to check the asinine nature of this assumption you may wish to read up on road accident statistics).
So, are we really comparing like with like here. A nurse/doctor/police officer/professional provides a clearly defined set of skills, and it is important that these skills are kept up to date, considering changes occur in requirements regularly. It is also crucial that these skills are kept sharp considering that people work with members of the public. An academic teaches does not have to update their teaching skills, to teach students (fee paying members of the public) er, um… What exactly is the justification for academics not having to regularly update their teaching skill set? As, for research skill set, well I am not going to go there on this forum.