Seattle – the beginning
Last year’s GM (General Meeting) in Seattle saw the start of a new initiative by the IEC to involve younger professionals more deeply in the world of standardization from the very outset of their career. Labelled the Young Professionals' Programme, it brought together the representatives chosen by the various IEC NCs around the world. During the IEC GM, young professionals were given the opportunity of establishing contact with their peers and with IEC Officers and technical experts, and also of experiencing IEC technical and management meetings. The event was such a success that a repeat event is being held during the 2011 IEC GM in Melbourne, Australia.
Melbourne – continuing momentum
The IEC YPs (Young Professionals) are technical, managerial and engineering professionals in their twenties and mid-thirties. They are already familiar with the world of international standardization and CA (Conformity Assessment), either because they develop standards or because their work is closely linked to them.
Experiencing the world of standardization from the inside
This year's workshop again takes place over three days. After an evening reception to welcome them at the start of the workshop, sessions begin the following day with detailed explanations of the world of IEC International Standards and Conformity Assessment.
YPs get to hear about the personal experiences of the 2010 Young Professional Leaders and about the Programme itself. They learn what to expect when attending an IEC technical meeting, are given a detailed explanation of the IEC structure and its membership, and have time to ask questions and obtain additional information. After lunch with SMB (Standardization Management Board) members, they sit in as observers at the SMB meeting before splitting into smaller groups for a special breakout session.
The following day, attendees resume with sessions specially designed to give them a deeper understanding of technical meetings and the notions of CA.
They attend a technical meeting and then the CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) meeting as observers, following which, lunchtime provides them with an opportunity to meet and discuss with the CAB members. Attendees then separate again into smaller groups for another breakout period. A further session deals with how to become more involved in matters of standardization.
Challenges in applying standardization
The final day starts with interactive sessions and deals with topics such as multimedia, explosive atmospheres, the Smart Grid and some of the IEC IT (information technology) tools developed specifically to help IEC experts around the world carry out their standardization tasks and communicate with each other.
Statistics concerning the 2010 programme
Fifty-three participants (89 % of whom were men) from 27 IEC Full Member countries all over the world took part in the 2010 YP Programme. 28 % were from industry and 15 % from academic institutions. The remainder was divided between testing and certification bodies, and utilities (each with 13 %), a further 10 % were from government institutions, and the remainder came from the private sector and R&D (Research and Development) institutions. Europe, Asia and the Americas were the most broadly represented (respectively 39 %, 32 % and 19 %), with Africa and Oceania also represented.
Encouraging results of the 2010 Young Professionals' Programme survey
The results of the survey were encouraging. 62 % of the respondents indicated that their participation in standardization and/or CA work had increased as a result of their involvement in the YP Programme. 38 % had experienced a change in the position they had held previously in their own NC or IEC groups. Several of the participants commented on how they had become active members of IEC TCs (Technical Committees), technical mirror committees or other working groups at a national level, and had been provided with additional opportunities to attend technical meetings.
As a result of increased awareness and understanding of international standardization work, and the networking opportunities the Programme provided, most had become more involved at a professional level within their own companies and were able to share what they had learnt with their colleagues.
Objective of the Programme reached
The results of the survey show that the 2010 Young Professionals Programme has, to a very large extent achieved its objective, which is to encourage the younger generation of experts, managers and leaders to become more deeply involved in standardization work and CA activities. Of the 96 % of the 2010 participants who planned to become more involved in IEC work, the majority did just that in 2011.
Creating further awareness at a national level
Now, with the help of the Programme Leaders, who are coordinating work on a YP manual for future participants, the aim is to spread the message further and encourages NCs to set up equivalent programmes at a national level. Involving more people at the national level is yet another means of increasing awareness of standardization and involving more young professionals throughout the world at an early point in their career.