Apegga1c.gif (2007 bytes) The PEGG
July, 1999
Page 11 Executive Director’s Notes:

Relevancy – A Constant Challenge

By Neil Windsor, P.Eng.

Perhaps one of the most troubling questions with which any professional association is faced is; "how do we remain relevant?" The question re-occurs frequently and the answers are never fully satisfactory or complete. Each time the question is asked, the answers differ somewhat because relevancy is a moving target. To remain relevant an association must continuously review and revise its policies and procedures, its goals and objectives, its programs and services.

Of course, to remain relevant one must first be relevant and there are those who maintain that APEGGA has no relevance to them or their careers. I would argue this assertion on the grounds that APEGGA has much to offer Members both from a professional and personal perspective. We must first recognize that some persons confuse relevancy with advocacy, the proverbial "what does APEGGA do for me" syndrome. Let me first address some of the benefits professional membership represents.

A Public Responsibility

First and foremost is the sense of belonging to a proud professional association with independent legislation; the privilege of self-governance; an exclusive scope of practice; right-to-title and a history of serving the public safety and interest dating back nearly 80 years. This alone should adequately represent real relevancy to members. All too often, we forget the importance of our responsibility to protect the public safety and interest. As professionals with high standards of education and experience and a strong Code of Ethics, we accept the public trust that the welfare and interest of that public always is first and foremost. As an association, APEGGA is charged with the responsibility of self-regulation of our professions and assuring quality of service from all professional Members and Permit holders.

However, many Members associate relevancy with "advocacy" or "member services". I would argue that, although these are also important to Members and their value must not be ignored, they are clearly secondary to our responsibilities to the public. Already an extensive range of programs is available to Members ranging from numerous insurance programs; communication programs; scholarships and awards; professional development programs; résumé referral service; branch activities and luncheons; student outreach programs and others. Should more programs be offered? Probably so, and Council is actively considering other initiatives which are not inconsistent with our responsibilities as a self-governing association.

A Place for Advocacy

Advocacy too is often necessary and desirable. Council has adopted a policy of being proactive in working with various development agencies and chambers of commerce, and with industry associations, to promote awareness of the "value of the professions" to the client and to the public as a whole. There is a role to play in promoting our knowledge-based industries to the global marketplace in which many member companies are competing. And there is value in raising awareness of our contribution to the Alberta Advantage.

A Public Voice

And finally, and of great importance, there is a role to play in representing the professions when public issues arise which may cast dispersions on the role our members play in society. That is not to say that APEGGA should have a voice in all public issues involving our Members, for we must always remain neutral in the event that our investigative and discipline processes are called upon to resolve a dispute or deal with a complaint against Members, but certain issues demand that the professions speak out publicly to set the record straight when our integrity is being questioned. Perhaps we have been the silent professions far too long and it is time our presence were known and our contribution to society given proper recognition.

Council is aware of these concerns and a Relevancy Task Force has been established to consider all these issues and investigate ways and means of achieving the desired results. This ongoing process will bring new questions to the forefront and will, hopefully, lead to some answers for the immediate future.

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