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An update on national equivalent IEC Young Professional Programmes

By Article based on feedback/input from IEC NCs

A frequent comment heard during the IEC Young Professionals (YP) workshops concerns the importance of National Committees’ support, especially to grow participation and engagement in the IEC YP programme.  The following article discusses the value that an NC gains from investing in a national equivalent IEC YP Programme. It also covers the main challenges faced by an NC once a national programme has been established and how these can be resolved.

YP workshop 2014
Participation in the IEC Young Professionals Programme and national equivalents brings benefits for upcoming engineers, managers and experts

Value of a national IEC YP Programme

Several NCs have established their own versions of the IEC YP Programme – especially to identify and foster participation in the development of IEC International Standards and IEC Conformity Assessment activities. Establishing an ongoing national equivalent IEC YP Programme opens up avenues to allow young engineers, experts and managers to become involved in shaping the industry’s future. Furthermore, it gives opportunities for YPs from a multitude of industries to connect, exchange ideas, learn and build professional networks for the future.

Networking is a key component, so the programmes must be IEC-focused if they wish to offer the best networking opportunities for participants and add maximum value from an employer’s perspective. These national programmes inspire YPs to become involved in and facilitate direct and systematic access to the standardization process.

Expanding technical horizons

Such programmes also create an opportunity to approach YPs who do not know much about the IEC and who have expertise in the upcoming technologies which are tackled by the new Strategic Groups, Systems Evaluation Groups and Systems Committees. And potentially they can be motivated to work with the NC.

The national equivalent YP programme is also a vehicle to promote investment in standardization within companies and to foster collaboration among stakeholders. This can reinforce participants’ involvement, help ensure continuity and grow solidarity within the standardization community.

Maintaining momentum

Once an NC has decided to invest in such a programme and has gone through its first workshop/event, the question of how to keep the momentum going from the early involvement arises. For this, an effective contact person is important – to enable the coordination of all the activities and projects concerning the YPs after the workshops.

In addition, helping YPs seek out mentors who are active in national and/or international standardization activities and pairing them together can really help in their IEC involvement. Identifying standardization experts who have success stories to share, who are willing and able to demonstrate the benefits of being involved in standardization, and be role models for the YPs is also inspiring and very valuable.

Communication and engagement

Social media can provide an easily accessible and affordable communication channel and forum to keep the YPs active. For example, the creation of  a LinkedIn group. Local IEC mirror committee chairmen and NC Members can be invited and encouraged to also join the group as informal mentors. Such groups are successful if they are regularly fed with news and information from a dedicated person specifically assigned to this task. You can find useful information and tips on setting up successful LinkedIn groups by clicking here.

All these activities take planning, along with time and resources to coordinate and monitor, but they are important ingredients for the NC seeking to launch and maintain a successful programme.

Company support is key

YPs attending national equivalent IEC YP Programmes observed that support from their employers to cover time and expenses was an element that often needs further development. While there is obvious value to the individuals participating, employers must become more aware of the benefits of standardization among their young engineers. Also it’s worthwhile to show the value of bringing people together to consider a topic that is not often addressed in any other detailed way.

Spell out the benefits

Gaining employer executive leadership support to allow the young employees to join the programme and attend events is crucial. If the programme is exclusively focused on the IEC, employers will recognize that the networking opportunities are concrete and valuable.

Sometimes a lack of business data on the quantifiable impact and the value of involvement in standardization makes it more challenging to convince stakeholders of the importance of participating in the programme. Therefore employers may be less inclined to send YPs to such events – which results in low attendance at the workshops. For some NCs there seems to be a shortage of data showing the value of industry being involved in standardization and this is something which may need to be addressed.

Creative solutions

Some NCs are looking for ways to get around these issues, through marketing their programmes in innovative ways. For example, branding the national programme as a competition where the winners are selected to receive a reward which also includes further training and networking opportunities. This approach makes attendance at such programmes more marketable from an industry perspective, as the companies sending the YPs to these events perceive their young employee’s attendance as more prestigious and valuable.

Another approach is to avoid directly talking about standards at first, instead concentrating on important themes that are related to IEC work to attract a greater number of participants of the appropriate calibre. Once the YPs attend the programme, it is important to give them sufficient important information on standardization and the benefits it brings.

Home grown with YP help

As the IEC YP Programme builds on its success, more and more NCs are looking at ways to reach out to their young electrotechnical professionals. In this respect, the IEC YPs themselves can be instrumental in helping their NC set-up and develop such IEC-focused programmes, and many are already doing so.

This article is based on feedback and input received from National Committees. If you would like more information or have perspective to share, please contact Robert McLaren

About the IEC Young Professional Programme

This Programme brings together the world's upcoming expert engineers, technicians and managers. It provides them with opportunities to shape the future of international standardization and conformity assessment in electrotechnology.

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YP workshop 2014 Participation in the IEC Young Professionals Programme and national equivalents brings benefits for upcoming engineers, managers and experts
YP breakout session NCs and employer companies also reap the benefits
Robert McLaren, YPP Cordinator Robert McLaren, IEC Young Professionals Programme Coordinator