BY LARRY STAPLES, P.ENG.
No doubt you have read my report to members on the front page of this month’s PEGG and learned that Council has reached a decision on the Inclusivity issue. In my memory of Association affairs, only one or two controversies have ignited such passion and reaction from the membership.
From a personal perspective, I have been happy to see this. Many of my fellow APEGGA members (whom, I confess, I occasionally suspect of contented complacency) have proven to be just as passionate as I am about the future of our professions!
A lot of thoughtful discussion has transpired within the Inclusivity Consultation Task Force, the Board of Examiners and Council. The decision reached recognizes the reality that the most recent proposal for a new category is unworkable, or unpalatable, or both. Having explored the issue thoroughly (after letting the emotion subside), we now know what we should not be doing.
One not-so-tiny problem remains: what should we be doing?
Council in 2003 recognized underlying issues which needed to be addressed — and they still need to be addressed. Council in 2005 has satisfied itself that a new category is not today’s solution, but your elected peers and the majority of members in our focus groups remain convinced that the “status quo” is not the solution either.
So now the hard work begins. We need to move ahead: the baggage-laden moniker “Inclusivity” is henceforth banished from the APEGGA vocabulary.
LARRY'S TOP TEN
Why am I proud to be an APEGGA member? The top 10 list starts now - and I'll keep adding to it over the next nine editions of my column's appearance in The PEGG.
Participation: I have the power to participate in and shape the future of my profession.
The Power of the Ring: When I am introduced as a professional engineer, people assume that I am smart, practical and have an interesting career. (Not a bad starting point, and geologists and geophysicists are in on this one, too.)
Professionalism: The standards for my work (Practice Standards, CPD requirements etc.) are set by my peers, who understand the practicalities of what I face from day to day.
First Principles: I understand how stuff works. (Sure it’s geeky — but it’s interesting, too.)
Building Our Future: Whenever I have a chance to work with young engineers, geologists
and geophysicists, I am always very impressed — and very confident about
the future of our professions as well as the future of Alberta and Canada.
A new task force will be established. The process will be better, tapping the best thinking in Council, the Board of Examiners, our sister associations etc. You, my fellow APEGGA members, will be kept informed and given opportunities for comment and to give us your valued input.
Do not revert to contented complacency!
The Big Picture
One of the privileges I enjoy on your behalf is observing firsthand where our professions fit into Alberta society and Canadian society. Following are some of the “dots” which I have observed and am endeavoring to connect.
In recent years, we have registered about 1,800-2,000 new members per year. We received 3,558 applications in 2004, and already in 2005, to the end of August, we have received 3,050 applications. About one third of these are Alberta graduates, one third graduates from other Canadian provinces, and one third internationally educated graduates. Looking back 10 years, the number was about 2,000 applicants and 600 or 700 actual registrants per year. Our Board of Examiners and staff are working heroically to keep up with these numbers, and to deal with the ever-increasing proportion of international applicants requiring non- standard assessment of academic qualifications.
The number of projects currently on the books for the Pacific Northwestern region of Canada and the United States is truly awesome — $230 billion Cdn. Every one of these projects is technically intensive; skilled and experienced professionals are essential in delivering them successfully for their respective shareholders, employees, suppliers and communities. In serving the public interest, part of APEGGA’s role is to address the appropriate supply of professionals, as well as to assure the quality of those professionals.
Other professions are broadening their thinking as they face similar trends. Most recently, this summer the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons voted to allow limited-scope practice by certain applicants (typically internationally educated doctors) who demonstrate competence in one or more specialties, but fall short of the multi-faceted competence required for full licensure to practice medicine. Medical colleges in Ontario and Saskatchewan have done the same – and in our own arena so has our sister association, the Professional Engineers of Ontario.
The Government of Alberta has over the past couple of years updated legislation governing the agrologists and the foresters. Both acts accommodate a full professional category, a technologist category and other potential categories of membership. The folks over in the Professions and Occupations Bureau are acknowledged as leading-edge thinkers in their field; this approach represents the state-of-the-art in regulating professions. To the great credit of their predecessors who in 1981 crafted the Engineering, Geology and Geophysics Professions Act, our legislation is structured in a similar way as well.
There is tremendous human potential available through internationally educated graduates and others who do not easily fit into our current model for assessing academic and experience qualifications. Without “lowering the bar” and without engendering confusion in the minds of the public, we need to find more efficient ways to tap this potential for the benefit of Alberta society. We currently register about 90 per cent of internationally educated graduates who apply — after significant effort is invested by the Board of Examiners in each individual file, and after daunting personal effort is expended by many applicants in studying for and passing confirmatory technical exams.
Please stay tuned as your Council, through the new task force and through effective consultation, works to connect the dots and to plot a path forward for the professions.
I invite you to share your ideas and questions with me via email@example.com, or to share them with all of our colleagues via a letter to The PEGG Editor.