april 2005 ISSUE

President’s Notebook


APEGGA President

A robot at the Robotics exhibition, currently underway at Edmonton's Odyssium, drew the image of me that accompanies this column. I thought it was particularly appropriate for two reasons.

First, it symbolizes APEGGA's continuing commitment to promoting science and engineering. We have more volunteers engaged in our Outreach program than in any other APEGGA activity — more than 600 of them — and we always need more. Check out the new APEGGA website to learn more.

The second reason is more personal. My term as president is in its final month, and the incomplete image is appropriately symbolic of the transition to Larry Staples, P.Eng., your next president.

I'll fade away and he will become prominent on these pages. Larry has been a very active president-elect and will serve you well over the coming year.

In addition to his work on APEGGA Council, the Strategic Planning Task Force and the Inclusivity Task Force, Larry has accompanied Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., and me on our annual visits to the branches, most of which took place in March.

This involves a lot of driving around Alberta — more than 5,000 kilometres — and has the side benefit of giving us a lot of time to review what we've heard and to discuss issues. With only a couple of exceptions, our branch visits were exceptionally well attended, and discussion following my presentation was thoughtful and wide-ranging.

This opportunity to connect with our members has proven to be one of the most valuable things we have done this year, and I want to thank the branches and their members for their support and engagement.

Over the last several months, Mr. Windsor and I have also been visiting the newly appointed ministers of the provincial government to offer our support and to bring them up to date on current issues that may be of interest. Our visits were well received, and it is clear that APEGGA is well respected.

What We Heard

Two areas of concern arose again and again during the visits to our branches and the ministers. The first was raised at almost every meeting — the barriers faced by immigrants and technologists in their attempts to obtain some form of licensure that would enable independent practice, and the need to find fair and appropriate solutions.

There is widespread agreement that our Canadian standards for professional licensure provide the public with enviable assurance of excellence on the part of our licensed professional members, and that we must maintain those standards. There is also an appreciation that society, working environments and our professions are evolving, and that we must be prepared to evolve our regulatory models along with them.

The second major area of concern raised at most of the meetings is the anticipated shortage of skilled people. This has been widely projected to occur over the next several years.

The concerns are broader than the high level of activity expected for oil sands development. In the Pacific Northwest an estimated $100 billion worth of capital projects have been identified for the next decade. Alberta is already a net importer of engineers and geoscientists — only about one third of the new members we register every year are from Alberta.

Society and the public will have increasing needs for access to skilled professionals, and we must ensure that we are ready to meet the challenge without compromising our standards.

How We're Responding

APEGGA is working on both issues. Our Inclusivity Initiative, currently in the consultation stage, addresses the first issue.

In addition, Mr. Windsor and APEGGA staff are working with other agencies, including the Government of Alberta and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, to project requirements and help develop strategies for dealing with projected shortages.

These issues constitute the two major challenges facing our professions over the next several years, and you will certainly hear a lot more about both of them.

Support Appreciated

I want to finish by thanking everyone for the support you have given me and APEGGA over the past year. Council has worked hard and dealt with difficult issues, while at the same time establishing new policies and practices around consulting our members and stakeholders. These have already yielded dividends.

Council's Executive Committee has had an unusually busy year as well, and I thank both President-Elect Larry Staples, P.Eng., and Vice-President Dave Chalcroft, P.Eng., for their willingness to take on additional duties and their dedication to finding the best solutions.

APEGGA staff, led by our Executive Director Neil Windsor, P.Eng., have continued their strong support for Council, our 42,000 members and our professions. In addition, we have over 700 members who have volunteered their time to support our professions, and who are critical to our success. Council and I thank you all for your commitment and enthusiasm.

I also want to thank our partners and stakeholders who have been engaged in supporting APEGGA and our professions — including CCPE, CCPG, our provincial government ministers and their staff, the deans of engineering and their staff — and many others we have connected with over the past year. We are only as strong as our supporters, and we are very grateful to have your assistance.

Last but not least, I thank my family for their patience and encouragement. Their support made my own participation in this very active year as your president possible.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as your president over the past year, and an experience I won't forget.

You can still reach me with your comments at president@apegga.org until April 23. After that, of course, the address will connect you to Larry Staples, P.Eng., who will be keen on hearing your comments.

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to share your perspective and concerns with me over the past year.