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Professional Engineers Ontario to keep closer tabs on members’ skills

Engineers in Ontario will have to provide a lot more personal information when they apply to renew their licenses w...


Engineers in Ontario will have to provide a lot more personal information when they apply to renew their licenses with Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) this year. The Association is initiating a Professional Excellence Program to help it keep track of members’ skills and areas of expertise. Currently, PEO does not keep such records — a fact which is surprising to many members of the public, especially since after graduating many engineers go on to work in different fields outside engineering, such as in management and business, but they retain the professional engineer license and title.
From now on licensees will have to answer questions such as what is their current area of expertise, and how does it differ from the discipline in which they obtained an engineering degree. The purpose, according to PEO, is to draw up a loose picture of “who you area and what you do.”
A lot of people are surprised that the association hasn’t been keeping tabs on this information, which seems important for PEO to ensure the professional competence of its licensed members. Now, however, armed with the new data, PEO will be able to field questions from the government and the public and respond to a query such as on how many licensed engineers practice in water resources and wastewater treatment (a question which likely came up in the wake of the Walkerton disaster).
PEO also says acquiring this kind of data will enable it to improve its efforts to forecast trends in engineering practice and to fine tune its policies and programs. It will also hopefully head off any government intent to impose mandatory professional development program on professional engineers to ensure they are keeping up to date with their skills. The province recently imposed mandatory testing on teachers.
The PEO questionnaire will also ask engineers to submit details about what kind of continuing education courses they are taking, what self-directed study they are doing, and about their contribution to the profession such as through mentoring, publishing and committee work.
Unlike other provincial licensing associations such as Alberta and B.C., Ontario decided not to impose a mandatory professional development program for its members when the question arose a few years ago. The new Ontario Professional Excellence Program, however, seems to be a step in that direction.