Competence Reviews - Background Information

The standard
Under Rule 21 of the Registered Architects Rules 2006, to meet the minimum standard for continued registration, a person who is currently registered must demonstrate that:
(a) he or she is able to practise competently in his or her practice area to the standard of a registered architect; and
(b) he or she has taken reasonable steps to maintain the currency of his or her architectural knowledge and skills since the last assessment. 

Assessing the application
Whether or not the architect "still meets the minimum standard" is assessed in the first instance by looking at his or her work record. Typically, an architect who is practicing full-time has little difficulty meeting this requirement. Architects demonstrate "reasonable steps to stay current" by providing their CPD records, or information about other professional development activities they have done and what they do in the workplace to keep up to date.

However, if the evaluation panel assessing the application is unconvinced, they seek further information. Usually, this is sufficient to satisfy their concerns.

Should the evaluation panel still have concerns, the architect is required to come to a face-to-face competence review interview.

Architects must have face-to-face competence review interviews if their registration has expired prior to their submitting their Continuing Registration Competence Assessment Forms.

Sufficient CPD?
A CPD points target has been established for registered architects to aspire to over a five year period. In most cases, this is 1,000 CPD points, including 100 points in each of the following five Units of Competency from the National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA): Design, Documentation, Project Management, Practice Management, and core aspects of the practice of architecture.

Core CPD in this regard is CPD, which is relevant to all architects so they are able to understand the broad principles and implications of the topic. Core CPD topics cover knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning:

  • ethics and professional conduct;
  • legislative changes effecting the built environment and commercial practice (inclusive of referenced documents);
  • fundamental professional issues concerning all architects, including such areas as insurance, sustainability and other relevant topics as identified from time to time;
  • one-off topics.

NZRAB’s expectation is that architects will undertake CPD activities that are relevant to the stage they are at in their career, the roles they fulfil and to the architectural services they provide.

The overarching principle guiding CPD points allocation is that the architect is the right person to determine which CPD activities satisfy the NZRAB’s expectation noted above — the architect knows what matters to them. It follows that there can be no pre-determined weighting for specialisation or relevance of CPD activities.

If an architect reaches their CPD points target, this will likely be sufficient evidence that the architect has taken "reasonable steps to stay current".

Similarly, if an architect has not reached their CPD target, then a judgement is made as to whether the architect has taken "reasonable steps to stay current". The architect is assessed on the basis of whether the professional development activities they have done are reasonable, relative to the kind of work they do.

Architects are encouraged to maintain an active engagement with CPD, and to record CPD opportunities they consider interesting, relevant, and relative to the nature of the work they do. Participation in the Continuing Professional Development Framework also validates an architect’s professionalism.

The NZRAB cannot grant continuing registration on the basis of CPD participation alone. All architects have to be actively reviewed and a judgement made as to whether each architect meets the requirements described above.

Early Competence Reviews
If an architect wants to have an early competence review, this is permitted. Architects who are about to go into voluntary suspension or work overseas sometimes find this useful because it maximizes the time before their next review.

In addition, the NZRAB can review an architect early if there is a concern regarding the architect's competence. In this case the competence review must be interactive.