A new APEGGA designation will make it easier for internationally educated graduates to find relevant Alberta work and for employers to fill a pressing demand for skilled labour. When employers see the designation Provisional Licensee on a resumé, they’ll know that the prospect has met all the requirements for becoming an APEGGA professional member other than the completion of a year of Canadian experience.
Provisional Licensees have the academics, the experience, the knowledge of law, ethics and professionalism, the good character, and the command of the English language necessary to practice. The member is legally permitted to be employed in Canada. All that’s required is that year’s worth of work under the control and supervision of a professional member.
“When employers receive an application from a Provisional Licensee, they can be confident that APEGGA has already reviewed the applicant’s professional qualifications,” said Mark Tokarik, P.Eng., LL.B., APEGGA’s Director, Registration. “We have determined that this person is fully qualified for licensure except for the Canadian experience requirement.”
The new category has no effect on licensure requirements themselves. It simply gives APEGGA the ability to grant a designation to the final step before full licensure.
“The step already existed. We just didn’t have a designation for it,” said Mr. Tokarik. “As always, we’re upholding our mandate to protect the public’s safety and well-being. The licensure bar is very high and this designation does not move it.”
Provisional Licensees are not permitted to stamp work or take responsibility for their practices of engineering and geoscience. Their work is under the control and supervision of a professional, and they have two years to complete their one-year requirement. Although Provisional Licensees cannot vote in APEGGA elections or run for office, they do enjoy the access to Association member benefits.
APEGGA began licensing Provisional Licensees this fall, and there are now 21 of them. This follows members’ approval of the designation at an Annual General Meeting several years ago. Earlier this year, the province paved the way with the necessary changes to the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act.
Said Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng.: “This designation sends a great message. It tells government, the public, employers and APEGGA applicants themselves that there is a clear path to licensure. In fact, when internationally educated graduates are one step away, we even give them a provisional designation.”
APEGGA and other self-regulating organizations are often criticized for making it too difficult for Canadian newcomers to practice their professions. Mr. Windsor, however, emphasized that protection of the public must remain paramount, regardless of the criticism.
“If the university program you took doesn’t meet our standards, or if you can’t speak English adequately, yes, you will have to do some hard work to become a full professional member. We should never apologize for that,” he said.
“Similarly, a person needs sufficient exposure to Canadian codes, standards, climate conditions, ethics, workplace environment, culture and business practices before we will licence him or her as a professional member. That’s why Canadian experience is so important.”
Nonetheless, the designation is an example of APEGGA’s continuing efforts to improve the licensure process for immigrants. The Registration Department works closely with immigrant-serving agencies to make sure potential applicants get the right information and understand it. The Board of Examiners is improving and sharpening its approval processes.
“We’ve even targeted some of our Professional Development initiatives to internationally educated graduates. So I think we’ve demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that we are very interested in putting foreign grads to work in Alberta,” said Mr. Windsor.
Employers have always been able to hire internationally educated graduates to work under the supervision and control of a professional. However, this was not widely known, and because of that landing a job was sometimes a stumbling block.
Said Mr. Windsor: “This really is an information tool for us. We want to get the message out that internationally educated graduates in our professions are willing and able to work. And in the case of Provisional Licensees, they are very close to full professional membership.”
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