Terri-Jane Yuzda

APEGGA Seeks More Compliance in Advanced Technology


Director, Compliance

The Emerging Disciplines Task Force estimates a 54-per-cent compliance rate among advanced technology personnel eligible for APEGGA membership. The biggest shortfall appears to be in younger potential members.

Editor's Note: The following is one of a series of columns prepared by APEGGA's Compliance Department.

In the July/August issue of the PEGG, I discussed the registration shortfall of geoscientists and, specifically, APEGGA's concern about wellsite geologists. An area of similar concern is the advanced technology industry, and the Compliance Department is putting an increased effort into that shortfall, too.

The Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act prescribes that individuals engaged in the practice of engineering must be registered with APEGGA. Historically, conformance with this requirement has been high within established industries and among mainstream disciplines such as civil, mechanical and petroleum engineering.

However, results of a CCPE national survey indicate a disturbing decline in the support for registration among students and recent graduates in emerging industries such as advanced technology. With that in mind, APEGGA Council's Emerging Disciplines Task Force commissioned KPMG to conduct a study to determine what proportion of the engineering graduates working in Alberta's advanced technology sector are actually licensed members of APEGGA.

A survey of employers was used as the main vehicle to gather data. For the purposes of the study, the advanced \technology sector consisted of organizations that supply products, services or solutions in which electronic or computer technologies are integral. The survey found:

  • About half (54 per cent) of those apparently eligible for APEGGA membership are actually members.

  • Age is more closely linked to participation rates (compliance) than any other single factor. Young engineering graduates are less likely to be APEGGA members than older ones.

  • Engineering graduates working in advanced technology are significantly younger than those in other industries.

  • Electrical and computer engineering disciplines are much more prevalent in the advanced technology sector than elsewhere.

  • Overall, 70 per cent of the companies pay for all, or most of, APEGGA's membership fees. The tendency not to pay is more evident in small companies than in medium or large ones. An interesting irony is that the participation rate is highest among engineers who do not have their fees paid by their employers.

The question, "How many non-member engineering graduates could join APEGGA?" was not within the scope of this initial assignment. However, by a series of assumptions, it was concluded that Alberta's advanced technology industry contains 7,500 engineers. If the overall participation rate of 54 per cent applies, then 3,500 of those engineering graduates are not members of APEGGA.

No matter what the actual number, APEGGA has a significant opportunity to increase its participation rates in the advanced technology sector. That convinced APEGGA's Compliance Department, supported by the Enforcement Review Committee, to launch a program that targets improving advanced technology licensure.

Many Companies Don't Hold Their Permit to Practice

Using similar activity criteria as the KPMG survey, the first step was to identify as many companies as possible that are involved in the industry and employ APEGGA members. Of the 150 companies identified, 35 per cent hold valid permits to practice.

APEGGA is contacting by letter each of these companies without permits. The message and assumption are that if they employ APEGGA members, they must be practising engineering and require a permit to practice. Occasionally, a contacted company disputes whether or not their activities constitute the practice of engineering. When this happens, the Enforcement Review Committee must turn to the EGGP Act to answer the question.

To assist with this process, the ERC established an advanced technology subcommittee composed of ERC and APEGGA members at large with a background knowledge and interest in the industry. The subcommittee has held four meetings to date. Its busy agenda consists of reviewing case studies to determine whether activities are engineering, as well as developing ongoing recommendations.

A systematic method analyses activities to determine whether they're engineering, as defined in the act. If a company is deemed to be practicing engineering, it's advised of the requirement for a permit to practice, as well as the need for the registration of non-member employees and compliance with the titles they carry.

Frequently Asked Question

Q. Sometimes a member-in-training has to incorporate as a condition of contract employment. Do these M.I.T.s require a permit to practice?

A. No. A permit to practice is not required, provided that the M.I.T.'s employer is willing and qualified to take responsibility for the work. Professional members registered with APEGGA must supervise the work M.I.T.s perform through their corporations, and their corporations must not have the titles engineering, geology or geophysics (or any derivative of these titles) in their names.


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