Mutual friends

The Engineering Council UK sets up an international register to provide skills recognition when working abroad. Anh Nguyen reports.


The pathway to working abroad could be made a little smoother with a new international award for incorporated engineers (IEng).

As part of a global agreement, the Engineering Council UK (ECUK) has set up an international engineering technologist (IntET) register that incorporated engineers satisfying certain criteria can join.

The membership will mean that signatory countries will more readily recognise the qualifications of an IEng when they register with their national engineering bodies, which is a legal requirement in some countries if engineers want to do certain jobs.

Members of the register will not, however, have a free passport to jobs outside the UK.

‘Currently we are at a halfway house in that we have agreed with the Sydney Accord countries to set up this international register,’ said Dr Jim Birch, head of international recognition at ECUK.

‘The register has a common criterion which describes an experienced incorporated engineer and we have all agreed to that. So if somebody on the IntET register applies to ECUK, then we do have a bit of short-circuiting of the registration procedure and each country has signed up to the same thing.’

The Sydney Accord, which provides joint recognition of academic programmes accredited at incorporated engineer level, consists of the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

‘The ultimate goal of our international work is for there to be automatic mutual recognition. So if an IEng goes out to one of these countries, he or she will automatically be awarded the equivalent title, in the same way that if a technologist from a partner country came here, we would recognise them as an incorporated engineer.’

After launching in January in the UK the register is now open to engineers who have an academic qualification equivalent to an engineering technology degree, diploma or certificate; have seven years’ post-graduation experience; have two years in responsible charge of engineering work; are continually maintaining professional development; and are registered in a signatory jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the countries have not been able to agree on the criteria that describe non-academic incorporated engineers, so those who went through the mature candidate route, the career appraisal route, the senior route or the technical report option, are not able to apply.

‘All of us operate routes for people who, for example, do not have a degree at all, in which case we would carry out our own academic assessment. Obviously this varies quite widely from country to country and we failed to get agreement on the equivalence of those.

‘So in the first instance, we have decided to restrict it to people who have got the underlying academic qualifications,’ said Birch.

Of the 40,000 incorporated engineers registered with the ECUK, those who qualify to join the IntET register can do so on the ECUK website (www.engc.org.uk) with a registration payment of £90, renewable every five years for £25.