April 2006 ISSUE


Mobility Explained — And We Don’t Mean Cell Phones


When we discuss APEGGA membership with new graduates and other potential members, a question often asked is, “What’s in it for me?”

The simple answer is that APEGGA provides you a licence to practice engineering, geology or geophysics, which under Alberta law you need. But there is much more that we do.

Though licensure and the enforcement of the EGGP Act make up our primary purpose, APEGGA offers a wide range of benefits and other services to its members.

What’s In It For Me? is a series of articles describing these programs.

We are all familiar with the term globalization. It refers to the increasing ability for goods, services and people to move freely from one part of the world to another. Professional mobility is part of this movement.

But unlike goods, which international quality standards can be easily applied to, the mobility of professionals is complex. It is something, however, that APEGGA is working diligently on for its members.

Within Canada, the mobility of engineering and geoscience professionals is accommodated through Inter-Association Mobility Agreements signed in 1999 for engineers and in 2001 for geoscientists. The agreements allow professionals registered and in good standing in one provincial or territorial jurisdiction to become registered in any of the others across Canada.

The agreements were made possible through consistent high quality of our university engineering programs (through the efforts of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board), through our examiners’ familiarity with the various geoscience programs, through the general harmonization of our work experience requirements (now four years in all provinces and territories except Quebec — three years), and through the common requirement for a test or course on law and ethics. Despite this general harmonization, each provincial and territorial association retains the right to require an applicant to satisfy conditions prior to registration if it determines that there is a valid reason to do so.
While the Canadian approach is based on harmonization of standards, it is more difficult to harmonize standards internationally. Most developed nations evolved their professional registration regulations in a far less globalized world.

Procedures and requirements were developed with each nation’s specific needs in mind, but provided they have the same ultimate goal — confirming the qualification of their practitioners — there can be a basis for comparison. Each nation believes that its own approach is the correct one and looks at harmonization only where it means that they will not have to change.

As a result, the approach to international mobility has been one of mutual recognition of the outcomes of the process, rather than the actual harmonization of the processes themselves.

APEGGA has one professional-level mutual recognition agreement in place to date with Hong Kong and we are working towards developing several more.

We have also entered into engineering education-level mutual recognition agreements with nine countries. These MRAs recognize the engineering accreditation processes of the signatory nations as being substantially equivalent to each other, and thus accredited degrees earned in one country are generally accepted by the credentialing bodies in any of the other signatory countries.

Canada has entered into these engineering education-level agreements with the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and, most recently, Japan.

Working from this base, APEGGA is interested in promoting professional-level MRAs. Again, the approach will not be based on harmonization, but rather the recognition that each nation’s approach is geared towards the same outcome — qualified practitioners.

This month, in conjunction with our Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, APEGGA is hosting the Canada/U.S. Mobility Forum. Representatives will explore the common ground we have in professional regulation, with the ultimate goal of full professional level mutual recognition agreements between APEGGA and various state boards of engineering.