Canadian Consulting Engineer

Alberta engineering association feels pressure of new applicants

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) is struggling to keep up with the large number of applications it is receiving from engineering and geoscience graduates. APEGA received 6,200 applications...

April 8, 2014   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) is struggling to keep up with the large number of applications it is receiving from engineering and geoscience graduates. APEGA received 6,200 applications for membership in 2013, a statistic that — astonishingly — means approximately 1 in 10 of newcomers to the province is applying to the association. About 60% of the applications come from other Canadian provinces, while 40% are from other countries.

The licensed members who volunteer to sit on the board examining new applications are putting in about 20 hours a month reviewing files, writes Colin Yeo, P.Eng., the outgoing president of APEGA, in the spring issue of the PEG magazine. The reviewers have to deal with around 200 files a year, many of which have complex issues. Meanwhile, Yeo points out, APEGA staff are also “racing to keep up.”

The Alberta association’s membership has burgeoned by 17% annually for the last three years. It is now the second largest licensing association in the country, with approximately 72,000 members. Only Professional Engineers Ontario is larger, with 87,900 members (PEO does not include geoscientists, so the comparison is not a neat one). The Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec has 60,000 members, and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia has 29,000 members.

Yeo writes: “Despite the heavy workload and the fact that there are many files in the [APEGA] system, the board is diligent. I have attended two board meetings, and both times complex files were on the table for review. … During this peer review, examiners see their reasoning challenged…. At all times, board members are focused on APEGA’s mandate to protect the public interest by ensuring only qualified practitioners are licensed.”

Philip Mulder, director of communications with APEGA, says that the reasons why they have so many applications is “obvious.” “There’s work available for professional engineers and geoscientists in Alberta right now and into the foreseeable future,” he says. “While this is good news, it does result in a large number of applications to APEGA.”

The association would like the University of Calgary and University of Alberta to increase their enrolment quotas for engineering students, but has been disappointed in this goal so far. Yeo points out: “for every engineering student admitted to the faculty, 3.5 others are turned away due to a lack of operating funds.”

Yet the province will be needing professionals for the $200 billion of capital projects planned for the next decade.

With 8,000 membership applications in hand, APEGA is restructuring its application process to expedite them as quickly as possible. Mark Flint, P.Eng., also writing in the PEG magazine, says that in addition to reorganizing the approval process and web-based system for serving applicants, the association has added staff and is reorganizing their space to cope with the mushrooming membership. He writes: ‘It will take a few months but I am confident that by the end of 2014 we will have a far more robust capacity. The APEGA Board of Examiners is playing a key role, reviewing its processes and exploring more efficient ways to assess applicants without compromising professional standards.”

To read the articles in the PEG, Spring 2014 issue, pages 4-7, click here.

To see statistics on APEGA’s applications from internationally educated graduates (the top five countries of origin are India, China, U.S., Iran and Pakistan, in that order), click here.


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