The volume of licence applications is increasing in most jurisdictions and there are growing external pressures from governments, the public, and applicants for faster application processing times. This has forced provincial regulators to find innovative solutions to assess the qualifications of applicants in a timely manner while still maintaining the standards for entry-to-practice. Engineers and Geoscientists BC has implemented the successful Accredited Employer Member-in-Training Program. As Jason Ong, Associate Director of Engineering Admissions for Engineers and Geoscientists BC says, “The Accredited Employer Member-in-Training Program streamlines registration while maintaining admissions standards at a time when the volume of applications is always increasing.” In tandem with effective competency-based assessment (CBA), many regulators may be able to benefit from similar employer support and licensing programs.
Employers play a vital role in shaping the experience of engineering applicants; however, adequate support has not always been provided to them. Several Canadian engineering regulators are using CBA to evaluate applicants’ skills and knowledge for professional practice. Employers are key enablers to providing the environments where applicants gain the skills and knowledge needed to fulfill the competency requirements. Despite this role, regulator CBA systems are narrowly tailored to just the applicant, without leveraging the role of the employer in demonstrating how the applicant has acquired the necessary competencies.
Following the implementation of CBA, and with feedback from engineering employers, Engineers and Geoscientists BC introduced the Accredited Employer Member-in-Training Program. This program is based on the CBA framework and is a partnership between the regulator and employers, allowing for the development and recognition of ideal training environments where members-in-training (MITs) can get exposure to the necessary experience to qualify for professional registration. This environment allows for association staff to educate and train engineering employers about how to support their MITs through the process of gaining experience and completing the competency profiles for licensure.
Under the program, an employer applies to the regulator and goes through a process whereby their training plans, personnel, and registration history are reviewed to have their MIT program accredited. To fulfill the accreditation requirements, employers demonstrate how they provide opportunities that allow their MITs to fulfill the competency requirements. Regulator staff provide training to the MITs, their supervisors, as well as the professional engineers that are nominated to form an internal MIT Review Panel of competency assessors within the firm.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Accredited Employer Member-in-Training Program has been in place since a pilot began towards the end of 2015. Growth in the program has been steady. Approximately 300 MITs are currently taking part across 26 employers. To date, 145 engineers have obtained their professional licence through the program. It has also helped increase the diversity of assessors across different engineering disciplines.
The Accredited Employer MIT Program is mutually beneficial for employers and the regulator. Employers benefit when they can support their MITs through the process and hold on to talented and qualified professionals. With the employer guiding MITs and mentoring them to achieve licensure, this improves the quality of CBA submissions. This results in faster assessments with fewer problems and shortcomings allowing an accredited employer’s MITs to be considered low-risk applicants for the professional designation. Upon completing the experience requirements for the professional engineer designation, most MITs at accredited employers are licensed within 30 days compared to longer wait times experienced by applicants outside of the program.
Additionally, the program creates a positive relationship between engineering employers and the regulator. The regulator takes on a proactive education and training role to prepare employers and qualifies them to participate in the program, and the regulators place a trust in the quality of these employers’ applicants that allows for quicker processing times.
Engineers Geoscientist British Columbia’s webpage for the Accredited Employer MIT Program: https://www.egbc.ca/Become-a-Member/Accredited-Employer-Member-in-Training-Program