There is a lot to be said for encouraging and supporting high professional standards. They are the complement to demanding high quality from industrial and service companies. In both cases there are market pressures to lift standards and quality. Competitive forces will tend to raise standards where they matter to customers. It happens naturally in industries and services where it is obvious if quality and standards are not high enough.
It is such market forces which have delivered cars which are better made, last longer, have a much wider range of comforts and conveniences, and are more reliable. Modern car makers have to install strong quality systems, instil the message of quality in their workorce, and seek to designing poor quality out of their factories. A 2012 car is so much better, with so much better performance and specification, than a 1972 car.
In professional services there is now a stronger emphasis on continuous education for those wishing to maintain their practising certificate within their profession. Some see this as a benign process, seeking to emulate the obvious succcess of quality management in business. Others question the value of some of the work done given the cause of maintaining and enhancing professional standards. At its best the programmes of professional improvement are genuinely programmes to raise standards. At worst they can degenerate into box ticking exercises where people have to reproduce the agreed consensus for the sake of the gapfill exam, or into ways of perpetrating a collective error in approach and limiting competitive forces.
I would be interested in your experiences and thoughts on this topic. It goes to heart of how much regulation of the professions and services should be statutory, how much should be undertaken by professional bodies, and how much should be left to consumer choice and the differences of the market? We also need to consider why the public sector does not have the same robust approach to quality management and improvement of standards as much of the private sector.