Canadian Consulting Engineer

Survey shows public has high respect for engineers

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers -- the province's new advocacy and member services organization for p...

December 21, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers — the province’s new advocacy and member services organization for professional engineers — got down to business in planning its direction in November. OSPE held an annual meeting on November 17, 2001 when a “committee of 100” comprised of members and a few industry guests laid the groundwork for a strategic plan. The meeting was led by OSPE chair Robert Goodings, P.Eng. and Randall Pearce, chief executive officer (a former director of comunications for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada).
As preparation for the strategic planning session, OSPE had commissioned a major survey by Ipsos Reid, and the results as presented at the planning meeting were illuminating.
Although, for example, engineers in focus groups complained that they were not appreciated by the public, when the researchers went to the public (1,000 interviewees), they found that engineers rated third among professions groups in terms of who the public felt they could trust. Doctors and pharmacists had more credibility than engineers, but engineers were ahead of teachers, architects, accountants and lawyers (in that order).
Despite the public’s high rate of trust, the research showed there are still important issues questions relationg to quality control and professional skills. In interviews, government and media were surprised and “disappointed” to find out that licensed engineers did not have mandatory inspections and practice standards. The 4,000 engineers who returned ballots also gave some important returns related to quality control. Over half (58%) of the respondents felt that the right to practice engineering should be linked to practice, whereas now there is no such correspondence.
The research also showed that OSPE must raise its profile. It has 4,000 full-members who have paid a membership fee and the remaining 51,000 engineers in the province are sustaining members by virtue of a levy tallied from their membership in PEO. When the sustaining members were asked if they were interested in becoming full members of OSPE by the Ipsos-Reid surveyors, 31% of them said would do so (20% mistakenly thought they were full members already). The survey also found that the group most interested in becoming members of OSPE are consulting engineers.


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