You need a driving licence to drive a car. If you lose your licence, you cannot legally drive. A driving licence is therefore a licence worth having. But what about the kind of licence available to a Licensed Engineering Practitioner? That’s the new name for an engineer on the proposed voluntary register, accredited by a third party and tested for competence every five years. You won’t need such a licence to practise engineering, and if you lose it, you can go on practising as an engineer.
One major institution has called the proposal half-baked. Others have given luke-warm support. A few welcome it. The Engineering Council, which has developed the idea and is now consulting with the institutions, believes that if the LEP concept takes hold it could gain momentum by being written in to codes of practice.
Nobody could accuse the Engineering Council of inactivity. Its controversial proposals on licensing, on the Eng title and on how the council relates to the institutions have stirred up considerable debate. Less controversially so far, at least it is backing the industry-wide advertising campaign study.
But for an organisation that attaches great importance to its relations with government and its position as a credible body that speaks for the engineering profession, the outright disagreement over its plans voiced in some quarters does not help.
In this respect there is something to be said for a bit more time spent over discussions in smoke-filled rooms. Some of the most controversial elements of the council’s recent proposals could perhaps have been talked out at an earlier stage thus avoiding the spectacle of harsh criticism from the kind of organisations it would like the Government to believe it represents.