Barry Lowe, engineering manager at Lufthansa Technic Turbine Shannon, writes about his organisation's CPD journey, which has been critical to its success while, simultaneously, being a thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling experience.

At Lufthansa Technic Turbine Shannon (LTTS), we repair aero-engine parts which involves the use of a broad range of technologies including chemical cleaning processes, welding, additive manufacturing, laser machining, non-destructive testing, plating, plasma coating and inspection. 

We operate in a highly regulated industry and require a highly competent multidisciplinary team covering repair development, CAD/CAM, materials science, process engineering and quality assurance. 


Our CPD journey with Engineers Ireland started in 2013 when I contacted the membership organisation for help in identifying a structured approach for Learning & Development (L&D) that would be applicable to engineers and technicians. 

Training was always considered an absolute prerequisite for our business as it requires highly specialised skills that involve a substantial amount of on-the-job training. 

However, L&D was not strategically aligned with our business goals and there was a weakness in our system to deliver a programme that met future business requirements and provided professional development for our employees. 

I discovered that Engineers Ireland is renowned internationally for its CPD standard and believed it would provide a comprehensive and well-structured programme to support our talent development.

The CPD Accredited Employer standard sets out the fundamental principles for an Engineers Ireland accredited CPD programme. The standard provides a framework based on seven core criteria, which provide the foundation of the CPD programme. 

It has a broad scope from “aligning CPD outcomes to organisational strategy” to the “establishment of external learning linkages”. The standard is not overly prescriptive, allowing each organisation the flexibility to tailor its programme within the framework of the standard. 

Our journey

Our first contact was with Dee Keogh, CPD director at Engineers Ireland, who was extremely helpful and prepared to support us even though we did not intend to seek accreditation of Engineers Ireland for our programme. One of the first things we did was to form a small team to look at the available options and decide how we intended to go forward. 

In 2014, we decided to use the the organisation's CPD standard as the basis for our programme. We established our first CPD committee, which was made up of representatives from our engineering team, training and human resources (HR). 

Our next step was to conduct a Gap analysis to identify the work required to meet the fundamental requirements of the standard. The development of the CPD programme is an evolutionary process as the standard sets out a very pragmatic approach for advancement through 'primary', 'advanced' and 'transformational' levels in each of the seven criteria. 

Managed like any other project

It means that CPD is not a project with a clear start date and finish date – it is a lifelong journey. However, establishing the programme and achieving Engineers Ireland accreditation can be managed like any other project.

The Gap analysis led to the generation of a task list detailing what was required to meet the basic requirements of the standard. Responsibilities for completing these tasks were shared across our CPD committee members, though a very collaborative approach was taken to addressing each task – it was a real team effort.  

We established a Management Review Board comprising the CEO, HR manager and engineering manager to steer the direction of the CPD committee. 

It is essential to have senior management commitment to ensure support for the initiatives in terms of resources and, also, regarding the alignment of the programme with the company's strategic direction and requirements.

Main deliverables from task list:

  1. Skills Matrix: required skills for engineering roles by skill group and definition of levels.
  2. Competency Framework: identifying the relevant competencies for different roles and levels.
  3. CPD Strategy aligned with our company vision – led to the development of our product portfolio strategy and technology map.
  4. Cultural change to become externally focused and established strategic external learning linkages to help develop our talent and learn what we require for future growth.
  5. Knowledge Management policy within our organisation for sharing and managing knowledge.
  6. Focus on being creative and delivering innovative solutions to problems and Continuous Improvement initiatives.
  7. Developing leadership coaching skills and mentoring to support future growth.

Having implemented the programme over the two-year period 2014-2015, we decided to have Engineers Ireland audit our programme to get feedback on what had been achieved and guidance on how we should continue to develop. Following a successful audit at the end of 2015, our CPD programme was accredited to the Engineers Ireland Accredited Employers standard.

Developing external learning linkages proved to be very beneficial, especially with local industry. LTTS became actively involved with Limerick for Engineering and through participation in Engineers Ireland's Thomond regional committee established the Industry in our Region programme. 

Areas of best practice

This initiative led to a series of events that provided engineers in the region with the opportunity to visit engineering companies and learn about its activities, main products and markets, technologies and processes deployed, technical and business challenges, areas of best practice and topics of interest for knowledge sharing.

In 2018, LTTS established the graduate engineering programme, which provides a structured programme of learning and development across a wide variety of technologies and processes. 

The programme included sponsorship on the Engineers Ireland CPD Certificate in Professional Engineering. It has helped LTTS attract talented young engineers and provide a more structured and effective development programme.

A highlight of our journey was winning Engineers Ireland CPD Employer of the Year 2018. It was great recognition of the efforts made by the engineering team at LTTS, which continues to motivate us on our CPD journey. It helped to raise the profile of our company within the global network of Lufthansa Technik and demonstrate our commitment to people development. 

An important aspect of having an accredited CPD programme is that it helps maintain the focus on CPD through challenging times, like we have at present with COVID-19. Funding of activities not essential to our immediate business is very constrained. 

However, recognising the strategic importance of CPD to our future development, we have committed to investing in the continued upskilling of our employees, which is crucial to supporting our plans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Benefits of CPD

We have realised many benefits – not only from the CPD programme we have now but, also, from the work we have undertaken to get to where we are today. These include the following:

  • Strategic approach to developing our engineering talent. We now have a product portfolio strategy and technology map that flows down from our company vision and these directly feed into our CPD strategy and plan for talent development;
  • Processes for identifying future skill needs: for example, in digitalisation, which I see as a journey – being a combination of training, in-house development/projects and external collaboration;
  • Robust process for planning and delivery of L&D activity, ensuring CPD outcomes are aligned with our business strategy;
  • CPD tracker used by employees to track their own CPD activities. Ownership for the individual’s L&D plan is with the employee, ensuring better commitment, transparency and success; 
  • Processes to support better sharing of knowledge between team members and development of linkages outside the company with other learning organisations such as universities, institutes and networks, for example, Limerick for Engineering;
  • Comprehensive programme supporting employees that helps attract and retain talent. Our graduate programme was an important factor in attracting very talented graduate engineers.

Implementation of the standard within LTTS was – and continues to be – a very collaborative process between management and employees resulting in a greater focus on employee development. 

Huge personal gains

On a personal note, I have also gained a lot through my involvement with CPD and Engineers Ireland. I certainly have had a greater focus on my own CPD and ensuring that I also develop my own knowledge and skills in line with our company needs. 

Having been a dormant member of Engineers Ireland for more than 25 years, I only realised the full value of membership when I became actively involved through Engineers Ireland's Thomond Region. It gave me the opportunity to influence the local activities of the organisation and increase our focus on engagement with local industry. 

I also had the privilege of representing the region on the National Council of Engineers Ireland and participating in its annual conference, which was held in our bailiwick in 2018. 

My CPD experience has also led to my roles in 'Limerick for Engineering' and Shannon Chamber Skillnet, which gives me an opportunity to contribute to the upskilling of today’s engineers and the development of the next generation.

In summary, I have found my experience extremely rewarding, contributing to my personal satisfaction and fulfilment. 

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Dee Keogh and her CPD team, our CPD committee and, especially, David Purcell, the current chair – all of whom have been critical to our success and made the journey such an enjoyable experience.

Barry Lowe, engineering manager at Lufthansa Technic Turbine Shannon