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Topic Title: Engineer Status in UK
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Created On: 19 December 2012 03:07 PM
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 19 December 2012 03:07 PM
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sunnyboy

Posts: 323
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www.theengineer.co.uk/1015043.article?cmpid=TE01

-------------------------
Luciano Bacco
 24 December 2012 12:27 PM
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rcapol

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I know this thread will revisit the age old discussions about protecting the title, but people must realise it is more than just ego. Is it not us, as profesional engineers, that must continually strive to protect the public by properly regulating the practice of engineering in the UK? If not, who?
It is not about the prestige of the title (although if you want to attract future engineers you need to make the profession aspirational - not popular). It is about protecting the public from poor engineering practices by persons not at a suitable level of competence. The risk scenario I frequently cite to people is the gas boiler installation. You have to be properly registered (Gas Safe now I believe) to be able to install a gas boiler in a property. A fine practice, I agree. But lets say a plumber has a good year and installs on average 1 new boiler intallation per week, 52 a year. In order to perform this task, the person has to be properly trained, assesed and registered with a competent national body. Now lets look at the engineer (at least I hope it's an engineer!) that designs the gas boiler. Sold at say 500k units per year. I can't find any legal or regulatory requirements that requires the engineer to be properly qualified, experienced, trained or registered. In the one case the person requires professional registration to expose the public to 52 units/year, In the other case no qualifications are required to expose the public to 500 thousand units per year. How can this be good practice?
Now before some jumps on me and starts quoting boiler regulations or standards for the design, and so no competence requirements are needed for the design engineer. The same is the case with Gas boiler installations, Building regulations state requirements for gas appliance installations. And yet one practice is regulated, the other is not. The same audit trail can be said for all activities in the entire product development cycle from design to manufacture to testing and qualification. I am not singling out this specific profession. Many engineering practices are very poorly regulated here in the UK. We, as professional engineers, have a duty to be actively pushing for suitable regulation of engineering practice here in the UK. One of the most competent ways to do this is by requiring professional assesment and registration to practice engineering in key areas such as consultancy, design approvals, validation sign off, safety, product certification and so on. Product complexity (often the risk is at system level rather than sub-systems/components) is accelerating far faster than the proper regulation can keep pace with. Let us strive to protect the public BEFORE a more serious disaster occurs on UK mainland. Just think recently of the effects of Fukishima, Deepwater Horizon, Toyota recall to name only a few. Prevention is cheaper than a cleanup, and saves lives.

Rob Capolongo
Managing Director
Phare-tech Ltd
 25 December 2012 12:00 PM
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westonpa

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How many boilers are, for example, killing or injuring people due to poor design and which have then been proven to not have been designed by a qualified engineer?

Considering the number of boilers I think you will find the answer to be insignificant. With regards to 'Fukishima, Deepwater Horizon, Toyota recall' are you suggesting that the faults occured due to relevant pieces of equipment were not designed or signed off by qualified engineers?

"I can't find any legal or regulatory requirements that requires the engineer to be properly qualified, experienced, trained or registered."

You will find if you take the time to check a lot which talks about the requirement to be competent and properly trained etc., and there is a good reason for this. Just having qualifications does not make a person competent and neither doed having EngTech, IEng or CEng because the assessment process is not robust enough or completed often enough. I have seen highly qualified engineers make fundamental mistakes which could easily have had serious consequences but for luck.

The system that we have in the UK is not perfect but it works very well overall and there is nothing to suggest that protecting the engineering title would improve it. Think about Harold Shipman, as an example, did a protected title stop his bad practice?

Regards.
 25 December 2012 12:08 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: sunnyboy

www.theengineer.co.uk/1015043.article?cmpid=TE01


The fact of the matter is sunnyboy that UK engineers and professionals are far more prominant in the world of engineering than Italian engineers and in reality that is the status which actually matters. Our system is not pefect, for sure, but it still delivers better engineers overall than the Italian system. However, this does not mean that there are not some very fine and top quality Italian engineers in this world but rather your system does not guarantee that.

I prefer to keep the status we have.

Regards.
 26 December 2012 06:16 PM
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gkenyon

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Why do we persist in considering that the person who fixes the coffee machine is not worthy of being called an "Engineering Professional"?

Nurses are "Medical Professionals" - so are Paramedics, as well as Medical Doctors / Consultants - in fact, the terms "Doctor" is not protected as being unique to the medical professional, neither the titles "Dr." and "Mr." used by these people, as they can apply to someone with a suitable academic qualification in a wide number of subjects, and a general title for a male in the UK, respectively.

Plain fact, is that I am proud to stand alongside Appliance Repairers, Automotive "Mechanics" etc. as an "Engineer", just as I am sure many Medical Doctors and Consultants are proud to stand with other Medical Professionals.

Sad though this may be, I have learned more about Engineering from a appliance repairers, electricians, etc., than I have from most of my fellow "post-graduate" level engineering colleagues, and my university lecturers (although I must my university education finished 20 years ago; I hope it's changed now).

If individuals want protected recognition for the level they have worked at, we have protected titles in the UK: Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, Engineering Technician, Chartered IT Professional, etc.

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 26 December 2012 09:31 PM
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MAWilson

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Rob,

I find myself disagreeing somewhat with your reasoning for protected status of Engineers. Though I think it would be nice but not essential, the examples you've stated is completely removed for the production cycle. Any welding for a boiler would be carried out by welder certified at the appropriate category of welding, testing of the protection devices done in a test house certified by the national board (can't remember the name) all done at the technician level and the certificates simply reviewed by the Design Engineer before sign-off reliant on the qualification and experience of the technicians (maybe hydrostatic testing is done as well???).

The examples you've stated are not the best either, Deepwater Horizon was a failure to comply with maintenance and operational standards (the American system is also protected at a state by state level as well); Toyota was due to group think by the engineers which was an organisational problem where engineers became closed minded, though they new best and did not engage the wider organisation or industry and Fukishima was a case of sum of all fears.

Engineering is a exceptional fraternity which has great importance in society but we shouldn't be trying to put capes on are backs.

M Wilson MIET
 28 December 2012 01:10 AM
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ectophile

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I don't think anyone is going to have much success persuading around 70 million people in the UK that a person who repairs things is not an "engineer". It's now just a plain English word, with no expectation of one specific qualification.

The boat has sailed on that one. Not just sailed, but completed several round-the-World cruises, been laid up and converted to a swanky floating restaurant.

-------------------------
S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 30 December 2012 08:52 PM
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rcapol

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Nice to have some feedback. I see some very fair responses and reasonable points. That is what the forum is for after all . Let me respond to each one (hopefully constructively).
1) Gas boilers were just an example of the discrepancy between installation regulation and regulation of the development cycle. In fair response - shall we wait till someone suffers before we act?
2) The intent of my comments was to show a requirement for regulating the practice of engineering, more than just protecting the word 'engineer'. I very much agree we don't do badly, but that is more down to each person's personal integrity rather than reasonable & balanced regulation. We need to regulate the use the terms such of 'expert engineer' or 'consultant engineer' by people with very limited experience or knowledge. Currently there is nothing to stop them doing so, and hence potentially misleading the public/employer/customer.
3) No the registration system does not guarantee quality, but contributes greatly towards it by setting a baseline of experience, qualification and structured training.
4) Yes I do frequently see, use, work with and very much respect knowledge and skill levels from many unregistered engineers. These engineers would have no problem in obtaining the appropriate level of professional registration. The vast majority do not, because there is no requirement or benefit for their effort (or money). What I was suggesting (perhaps poorly) was that registration (by way of regulation) is needed to allow people to continue to practice engineering and give the public/employer the ability to distinguish between their competence, experience/knowledge, and a person without. In effect protecting the use context of the engineer title without restricting word 'engineer'. Engineering Professionals should have no problem in obtaining a matching level of professional registration simply by filling in the application.
5) And of course nurses are medical professionals. The Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK states clearly on page 2 of their registration guide 'It is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom (UK) to pose as a nurse or midwife or to provide false or misleading information. They in effect become professionals by way of assessment and registration. You cannot say the same (currently) for the engineering profession. Anyone can pose as an engineer or offer professional engineering services without registration or being assessed as reasonably competent.
6) Regarding boilers 'the examples you've stated is completely removed for the production cycle...et all' Possibly, but aside, the intent was to show the discrepancy in regulation. Yes designs are in all probability signed off by the design engineer, its generally standard practice, but nowhere in law/regulation (not I can easily find) does it state that the sign off engineer needs to be professionally registered. As with a lot of industries.
7) The recent events were again an example of what can happen, not a case study. But if I must, regarding the Toyota issue, I am probably more experienced than most on Automotive recall and field issues. Aside from the fact they were unfairly singled out in the media (most OEM have at least one issue of scale every once in a while), I cannot comment on the details of the group mentality, but my experience is most probably some overall key engineering decisions were not made by professional engineers (use this component, not that component), and contributed to the issue.
I closing perhaps I did not communicate my view correctly. It is not about ego, elitism, exclusion or demeaning of certain engineering practitioners, about capes, or the other similar reasons. It is about a suitable level of regulation, for the engineering practice being undertaken, by way of professional registration. Just like other professions. In effect protecting the engineers 'title' by regulation, not by protecting the word. Why have professional registration if we don't need or use it for anything. We may as well save a big chunk of IET money, (and greatly valued volunteers time) by closing the registration process and all its related activities, close down the Engineering Council UK, all engineering institutions and so forth, if they are to achieve nothing but a few post nominals for your business card.

Edited: 31 December 2012 at 02:00 AM by rcapol
 31 December 2012 02:48 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: rcapol
1) Gas boilers were just an example of the discrepancy between installation regulation and regulation of the development cycle. In fair response - shall we wait till someone suffers before we act?

Fair point but as I understand things boilers have to be CE marked and installed and certified by CORGI registered engineers and so maybe you picked the wrong example. With regards to acting before something happens again a fair point but as I said the Medical Doctors profession is very highly regulated and yet that does not stop 1000's of incorrect things happening. Now as a safety professional I look at the HSE stats on a regular basis and I do not see that many issues caused by equipment failure, most are caused by human error and those errors would not be fixed by regulating engineering. What we are really talking about is the safety of equipment and that is regulated by a whole lot of legislation already....PUWER, Supply of Machinery, LOLER, etc., etc., and in addition to many standards, e.g., BS7671. If you go to chemicals then you have COSHH, REACH, etc., etc. Now if we look at what we have in the home then boilers, gas and electrical would seem to be the higher risk items and we have CORGI, building regs, BS7671, etc. However when Joe Public gets a job done how is granny going to know to check the qualifications of the 'engineer' who comes to visit? There have been several prosecutions by the HSE for non CORGI registered work on boilers....by the HSE.

My point is that there is already a lot of regulation and standards in place but you probably do not notice it. In addition to this there are consumer protection laws and standards. In addition to this there are CIVIL laws which can be used to gain compensation for negligence, etc., etc., etc.
2) The intent of my comments was to show a requirement for regulating the practice of engineering, more than just protecting the word 'engineer'. I very much agree we don't do badly, but that is more down to each person's personal integrity rather than reasonable & balanced regulation. We need to regulate the use the terms such of 'expert engineer' or 'consultant engineer' by people with very limited experience or knowledge. Currently there is nothing to stop them doing so, and hence potentially misleading the public/employer/customer.

If a business employs an engineer and they do not check his/her experience and qualifications then it is that process which needs regulating because they are likely not checking a lot of other important things. The problem with setting out, for example, the requirements for an 'expert engineer' is that someone then needs to write down what an 'expert' is and then there needs to be a robust system to enforce the regulation. What do you think is more robust than the current laws which set out what should be expected of a professional person and facilitate for claims for negligence and loss? As I have said there is already a lot in place and you probably just do not notice it and with regards to public/employers/customers being fooled sorry there has to be a bit more personal responsibility taken by those and not just rely on some regulation to resolve every issue.
3) No the registration system does not guarantee quality, but contributes greatly towards it by setting a baseline of experience, qualification and structured training.

In who's opinion? They can award CEng based on a level 3 qualification and suitable experience based on a technical report and an interview with some 'peer engineers' and once awarded it is never re assessed. If we look at other regulated professions where the titles are protected, such as doctors, they also require degrees and they are subjected to mandatory CPD and checks. How would you implement all this for all the different levels of engineers there are in the UK? There are craft engineers, technician engineers, engineering technicians, design engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, etc., etc., etc. How many EngTech, IEng and CEng do you think have been struck off for not doing their jobs correctly in comparison to doctors who have been struck off? And this is with the system already regulated by the EC. The IET is a voluntary organisation and so if there were now this regulation where would the money come from to pay for the people required to implement it? Would that money not be better spent on educating businesses/employers/public to better check the background of the those who are doing work for them?
5) And of course nurses are medical professionals. The Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK states clearly on page 2 of their registration guide 'It is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom (UK) to pose as a nurse or midwife or to provide false or misleading information. They in effect become professionals by way of assessment and registration. You cannot say the same (currently) for the engineering profession. Anyone can pose as an engineer or offer professional engineering services without registration or being assessed as reasonably competent.

Without going through all the requirements as I understand things you need a degree and to maintain CPD to be a midwife and an approved 3 year nursing qualification and also to maintain CPD. You can gain IEng and CEng with a level 3 qualification and suitable experience and never have to maintain CPD, as things currently stand. Personally I do not think the EC or IET would be qualified to regulate the engineering profession because currently they cannot even implement a robust system for maintaining the standards of the status's they already award.

You require something which would likely cause more issues than it would solve because what you require would likely force a lot of already high quality engineers out of the profession and so in essence we would have less competence available overall rather than more.

The current systems work well and there do not seem to be too many planes falling out of the sky or else poorly designed boilers killing people.

Regards.
 07 January 2013 05:59 PM
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rcapol

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Good feedback WESONPA, some very good points, and I agree with many of them, but I think I picked the correct example . Forgetting boilers for a moment, I wanted to show the discrepancy between the enforcement and registration requirements for the installation, but not the design, testing, or CE marking sign off or many other key tasks on the product itself. You mentioned '...I do not see that many issues caused by equipment failure, most are caused by human error'. I agree, and if you ask why enough times Human error incorrectly specified the equipment standards that caused equipment failures in some of these cases as well. So how do we reduce human errors? Well we can work on the process a little, the competence a little, and hopefully reducing the overall human errors. Legislation or product standards will not address the preceding development process itself. Setting some base standards for engineers and technicians can contribute positively here.
Who is assessing the safety of equipment? Who assesses the technical file for the CE mark, or makes the assessment that a product meets a particular standard or legislation? I understand a competent person needs to carry this out. So how do you assess a competent person? Surely the professional registration system is a reasonably good way towards assessing skill, knowledge or expertise. (Structured training, academic qualification, experience, responsible experience. All nicely documented.). It also has the advantage of reducing the significant cost or burden of assessing the competence of an engineer or technician. By definition the registration process has done a lot of this already and is effectively a free service for the employer. The same as a degree is a reasonable way of assessing a person's academic knowledge. Both are not perfect I admit, and I would very much support enforcing the very things you suggested such as CPD (why not encourage this more). We should not really throw our arms up and say do nothing because its not perfect. We have to start somewhere. But, let's not forget that there is not much point in raising the standard first, if there is no regulatory or legal enforcement requiring the standard. Not many people will bother as is currently the case. Regulate to require a baseline of competence first, (professional registration) and work to improve the standard. Remember I am suggesting regulation in KEY areas, not all areas. I don't see how it would drive away people from the profession as all the high quality technicians & engineers I know, would meet the requirements, and it's just a matter of applying for it. Most don't bother because there is no regulatory or employer need for it, not because they are not able to meet the criteria. The same as most technicians and engineers do not join the IET, because there is almost no benefit an IET membership has that cannot be enjoyed by a non member.
I would say that more quality people would be attracted to a profession that is more aspirational and recognised, than one that is not. So overall you would see an increase in competence within the industry.
Insurance and legal proceedings etc. after the event are not really proactive approaches I would rely on. I agree we need to drive the EC and the IET and make them more proactive in the area of regulation. Hence this is why I have started contributing to these forums to try and make some valid (I think ) observations about the need for some base regulation in KEY areas, and to build upon this as necessary. And hopefully in the process start to get some better and much deserved recognition to all areas of our industry.
I very much against overburdening 'Red Tape' in any area, but almost zero regulation on the practice in some important areas, surely cannot be a good thing for the industry as a whole.
A final point for employers and managers who may enjoy following this thread - it is also important that you also actively encourage professional development and CPD by your engineers in key positions. Why not use the free professional registration assessment services provided by the IET. I would go as far as to say professional registration should be a mandatory requirement for key positions.
CEng.
 21 January 2013 01:01 PM
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PaulMalloy

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Just to add a wee bit to the debate.

Until engineering companies start valuing the title of engineer I do not see why we should expect members of the public to value the title. I work for a large engineering company and have found numerous job titles using the term engineer for jobs that are not staffed by anyone with any engineering qualifications. I raised the matter with HR to be told that it was up to the manager of the function to determine job titles. Given that one of the departments was the engineering department I was left with little I could say.

Would it not be a good idea for the IET to make representations to all the larger engineering firms to ensure there was a policy in place to ensure that engineering firms use the title of engineer appropriately within job titles and amend any that do not comply?

This would only be a small step but surely something the IET could and should influence.
 21 January 2013 09:02 PM
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gkenyon

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Originally posted by: PaulMalloy

Just to add a wee bit to the debate.



Until engineering companies start valuing the title of engineer I do not see why we should expect members of the public to value the title. I work for a large engineering company and have found numerous job titles using the term engineer for jobs that are not staffed by anyone with any engineering qualifications. I raised the matter with HR to be told that it was up to the manager of the function to determine job titles. Given that one of the departments was the engineering department I was left with little I could say.



Would it not be a good idea for the IET to make representations to all the larger engineering firms to ensure there was a policy in place to ensure that engineering firms use the title of engineer appropriately within job titles and amend any that do not comply?



This would only be a small step but surely something the IET could and should influence.
How would this "add something to the title"?

Also, how can purely academic qualifications make someone an "Engineer" - even for Chartered Engineer and Incorporated Engineer, an appropriate engineering degree is not, alone sufficient, and further it is possible, I understand (although not easy) to register as a Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer with no formal "engineering qualifications", provided you can demonstrate you have the right experience.
This, surely, is the correct measure, NOT a single academic qualification?

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 23 January 2013 12:41 PM
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rcapol

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I think Mr Malloy intent was to show that there was no general recongition of the post or capabilities of engineers even within his own department.
Rather than academic specifics.
I fully support what he is saying. Until we value our own profession and actually do something about it, rather than complain, nothing will change.

CEng
 30 January 2013 12:38 PM
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PaulMalloy

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Sorry folks - realise on reading comments from "gkenyo" that I appear to be saying you need to be "qualified" to be an engineer. Not my intention at all as I've worked with many people who I would consider to be great engineers and do not have degree qualifications. Experience counts for a lot in my book. I was just pointing out that my company which is a large engineering company uses the title of engineer for people who do not do an engineering job. Also noticed someone using "Technician" in their title and they are not a technician. A system administrator yes but not a technician. If engineering companies can play fast and loose with these titles then we should not expect the general public to hold them with any sort of regard. We cannot fix everything at once but we should be looking to encourage companies to police the use of the titles. I think it is something that the IET and other professional bodies should be able to influence easily.
 31 January 2013 06:07 PM
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mbirdi

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Originally posted by: gkenyon
Also, how can purely academic qualifications make someone an "Engineer" - even for Chartered Engineer and Incorporated Engineer, an appropriate engineering degree is not, alone sufficient, and further it is possible, I understand (although not easy) to register as a Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer with no formal "engineering qualifications", provided you can demonstrate you have the right experience.

This, surely, is the correct measure, NOT a single academic qualification?

The problem with CEng or IEng application is that applicants would always put their best side on the form, and give the best account of their competences at the IET interview. But never disclose the $*&% ups they were responsible for throughout their career; especially if they'd been employed at a number of companies over the years.

So for example, did that ONC qualified CEng disclose any incompetence work(s) they were involved in or own up to having received any offers of help (from colleagues) to fix their shoddy work(s)? Well, we'll never know because, of course they'll only show the positive side of their works.

Perhaps that incompetent chappy who did a shoddy job of installing boilers will one day go on to become the most distinguised chartered engineer the IET has ever had. Ultimate competence learned from years of mistakes.

A proper academic qualifiction and supervised work - preferably from a registered engineer- and honest application towards CEng or IEng is the way to go.

Of course I haven't mentioned anything about regulating CEng and IEng engineers who've moved on to senior management positions and left their technical hands-on experience behind. But that's for another day.
 02 February 2013 11:47 AM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: PaulMalloy
I work for a large engineering company and have found numerous job titles using the term engineer for jobs that are not staffed by anyone with any engineering qualifications.

And there are plenty of managers without management qualifications and plenty of directors without directorship qualifications and there are plenty of parents without qualifications in child management and there are plenty of MP's who have never actually worked in industry and there are plenty of secretaries of state who have zero experience or qualifications in the departments they work in......so what?

Maybe the managers have made the correct decisions and maybe that is why they are managers.

Regards.
 02 February 2013 11:53 AM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: rcapol
Until we value our own profession and actually do something about it, rather than complain, nothing will change.

Have you ever considered that just maybe we do value our own profession but that it is just not the 'value' that you personally want to see and therefore the majority have actually already spoken. We do not need anything to change because we are happy with the way things are and you have offered nothing of substance to convince us otherwise.

Regards.
 02 February 2013 12:06 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: mbirdi
Of course I haven't mentioned anything about regulating CEng and IEng engineers who've moved on to senior management positions and left their technical hands-on experience behind. But that's for another day.

Roll on another day!

Regards.
 05 February 2013 12:29 PM
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PaulMalloy

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Originally posted by: westonpa
Originally posted by: PaulMalloy I work for a large engineering company and have found numerous job titles using the term engineer for jobs that are not staffed by anyone with any engineering qualifications.
And there are plenty of managers without management qualifications and plenty of directors without directorship qualifications and there are plenty of parents without qualifications in child management and there are plenty of MP's who have never actually worked in industry and there are plenty of secretaries of state who have zero experience or qualifications in the departments they work in......so what? Maybe the managers have made the correct decisions and maybe that is why they are managers. Regards.
If you read my second entry you will see that I'm pointing out that engineering firms cannot get the use of engineer in a job title correct so why should we expect anything from anyone else with regards the status of engineers. The managers have got it wrong as they have created job titles using the term engineer when the job has no engineering content. The companies have got it wrong by allowing this to happen. The IET should look at ways to influence this and get engineering companies to ensure they at least use the title of "Engineer" correctly.

Edited: 05 February 2013 at 12:39 PM by PaulMalloy
 05 February 2013 10:35 PM
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gkenyon

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Originally posted by: PaulMalloy
The managers have got it wrong as they have created job titles using the term engineer when the job has no engineering content.
Please could you explain how this has happened, and more importantly, what is the required "engineering content"?

The companies have got it wrong by allowing this to happen. The IET should look at ways to influence this and get engineering companies to ensure they at least use the title of "Engineer" correctly.
And then, of course, we could all help get it right ?

From my 26 December post:

Sad though this may be, I have learned more about Engineering from a appliance repairers, electricians, etc., than I have from most of my fellow "post-graduate" level engineering colleagues, and my university lecturers (although I must my university education finished 20 years ago; I hope it's changed now).


So, what do we exactly define as an "Engineer", or even "Technician"?

-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
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