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Licensing proves a tough nut to crack

DETAILS EMERGED this week of the Engineering Council's proposals for voluntary licensing of the profession and the EngC confirmed that approved engineers would be renamed 'Licensed Engineering Practitioner'.

But the EngC working group responsible for formulating the plan admitted: 'The difficulty of defining the terms and scope of 'engineer' and 'engineering' is considered insurmountable'.

EngC said it had decided to press on with its current voluntary licensing initiative and change of title as after years of debate engineering institutions had failed to present a united front for statutory protection of the titles Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician.

If accepted by the Institution of Civil Engineers, the voluntary scheme would be accredited by the EngC. The proposals state that third party assessors would look at evidence of continuing professional development and would reassess each engineer every five years at least.

Desire to build up public confidence in engineers 'operating in areas critical for health and safety or the environment' is cited as a prime driver behind licensing plans. The report explains: 'Members of the public should be protected against incompetent or shoddy work carried out by persons calling themselves engineers.'

EngC draws comparison with the majority of European Union countries where the title of engineer is protected by statute, following qualification. No such statute exists in the UK.

Damian Arnold

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