THE ENGINEERING Council senate has voted to disband after 20 years.
In its place will be a new look Engineering & Technology Board (ETB) with far wider ranging responsibilities for the promotion and regulation of the engineering and technology professions.
The senate backed the plans by 33 votes to five after three hours of debate that saw major changes made to the original proposals.
The key change is an agreement that the majority of the proposed 14 man ETB board will be directly elected by 'stakeholders' - although it is unclear who those stakeholders are.
Eight directly elected board members will join the chairman of the ETB's New Regulatory Body (NRB), which will be responsible for engineers' regulation and registration. Five chairmen of specialist panels tackling issues such as communication, widening membership and life long learning will complete the board.
The move followed concerns that not directly electing board members was undemocratic.
But it remains unclear how the stakeholder electorate will be divided among registered engineers, who provide around 80% of the Council's funding at present, and government and industry which are expected to provide 50% of its funding within three years.
The target to glean 50% funding from government and industry was questioned by some senators.
'The interim two year plan talks of raising external funding, but nothing has been produced to support what will happen if this funding does not materialise, ' said senator and president of the UK Association of Professional Engineers Ken Paterson.
But ETB executive director David Worskett defended the plan: 'The Council already gets ú1M funding from external sources. With the current funds available, and with government support, we have enough money to make a good start.'
The ETB has budgeted to spend ú7M in its first year on up to 19 programmes to tackle skills shortages, make continuing professional development more relevant and improve support for teachers.
Registrants will provide ú4.5M, with ú2.1M needed to run the NRB.
The senate is expected to approve the transfer of the Engineering Council's Royal Charter to the proposed NRB in December while establishing the ETB as a registered charity.