Originally posted by: westonpa
Come on pmiller IEng has never had the equal status to CEng anyway so I am not really sure how it can be downgraded. When was this bygone era when IEng was seen as somehow equal to CEng?
I think that this is fair statement, although for a long time Engineering Council, as the regulator, promoted an "equal but different" message supported by good rational arguments around the value of engineers who were "know how led" versus "knowledge led", with each having an overlapping extent of (ie equal) management responsibility. This position was not accepted by the CEng majority as you illustrate. After all why would the average CEng support a proposition that appeared to downplay their distinctive status? We should however remember that status is something different to a statement of product particulars, it is social construct.
I also think that it is fair to state that the reputation of IEng is at least in part what IEng activism makes it, through personal and collective example
Many IEng registrants will possess distinctive characteristics which make them more valuable in their employment environment, than a similar CEng, especially perhaps as managers of more established technologies. The same principles apply to Technician practice, where detailed practically oriented technical skills are needed. However, the messages from those who have promoted the profession over many years have created and reinforced the impression of a of a hierarchy of value, with its attendant social connotations.
I think the use of a management hierarchy to illustrate your point plays to this agenda, which isn't an accurate reflection, since many managers and directors are IEng. Some of our best technically expert CEng are not particularly managerial and their talents would be wasted in the managerial domain. This is especially true at the more senior levels where many management roles become political in nature. It is also the case that many managing engineers are themselves managed by accountants.
A significant part of the problem in my opinion, is the conflation of technical and management responsibility. These separate dimensions are interwoven in the career journey of many engineers, but are not necessarily closely correlated. For example, in a City & Guilds study (Dec 2013) an apprentice's chance of becoming a director is greatest in the construction industry, with 47% of businesses in this sector employing former apprentices in board level positions. This is followed by manufacturing & engineering (43%), agriculture (33%) and energy and power (33%).
Although some of these former apprentices may have developed technical expertise appropriate to a CEng during their earlier career, many are likely to have been at or around an IEng standard of technical capability, before migrating into a management career.
Once into that management phase (which for some comes in mid-20s) it is often difficult to differentiate between the capability of managing engineers holding different qualifications within the range from HNC to MEng and also by extension the A&B competences in UK-SPEC.
A significant number of engineers following this career pathway may lack sufficient evidence to fully satisfy the technical requirements of CEng, whilst at the same time having much more management responsibility than the CEng threshold. For many it will seem, that to retain or seek IEng is to accept "second class" status, but seeking CEng may seem a difficult, uncertain and perhaps unnecessary journey. Since most of these people are by definition successful, why would they want to register?
My own experience mirrors this, I trained as a Technician then completed higher qualifications in engineering and management, leading to IEng a decade or so into career. If I had chosen to study for an engineering degree, which at the time I enquired offered me no advanced standing for my HNC, or relevant additional knowledge that I could obviously apply, then CEng might have been the outcome instead. In my subsequent management career, whether I was IEng or CEng wasn't of immediate relevance, but my professional institution and EC told me that I was "equal but different" anyway.
Actually I didn't quite get this concept, because I expected CEng colleagues to have better developed technical expertise than mine, although their management responsibility could be less, similar, or sometimes more. I'm afraid I also don't get the idea of being in "progression", because I was on a different track.
If engineering careers follow a "single track" then a progression of technical capability over time seems sensible, and advanced standing with the right quality of academic preparation reasonable.
It is a matter for fair debate whether the registered engineering profession wishes to be more inclusive or exclusive.
If we want to be inclusive and define the scope of the registered profession by UK-SPEC, then all registrants should be able to pursue successful careers within this scope. A successful career will nearly always involve on-going development in one or more domains of technology and/or management. It should not be required to transfer to another category of registration, in order to gain an approrpriate measure of respect. If success is defined by CEng (with other caregories as "stepping stones") then it has to be "mainstream" and much more accessible through normal career progression.
The choice of a more exclusive "profession", raises different issues, including the potential for fragmentation which pmiller suggests.
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards