Browse through the frequently asked questions on MBIE's occupational regulation announcements.
Does Engineering New Zealand support these decisions?
We welcome MBIE’s announcement and broadly support the decisions. Overall, the decisions support our call for an occupational regulation system that is simple and work for the whole profession and wider industry. We welcome:
- Registration of all practising professional engineers
- Protection of title
- Competency-based licensing
- A new Engineers Registration Board
- A strengthened complaints and disciplinary process
What does this mean for CPEng?
We understand that once the new regulatory regime is fully operational, the Chartered Professional Engineer scheme will be phased out. This is several years away.
In the meantime, CPEng continues to play an important role. All engineers who are currently applying for CPEng assessments or reassessments, or thinking of applying, should continue to do so, even though CPEng will eventually be replaced by a different framework of registration and licensing. We will work to ensure robust transitional arrangements are in place.
What’s the logic behind early-career registration? What problem is this trying to solve?
Our understanding is that MBIE wants to see all practising engineers registered so that they are visible to the governing body, committed to a Code of Ethical Conduct and CPD requirements, and can be held to account for poor conduct. We see this in other professions like doctors, lawyers and teachers.
Would registration just require a qualification check, commitment to ethics and CPD?
Our interpretation of the decisions is that these will be the key components of registration. However, final operational detail will be managed by the regulator.
Who will need to be registered?
All practising professional engineers will need to be registered.
What about engineering associates?
A new register for engineering associates (engineering technicians and technologists) will be established. This will bring engineering associates into the proposed regulatory regime. However, registration will not be mandatory for these professionals.
What about engineering geologists?
We do not know if professional engineering geologists will be required to be registered. We will work with MBIE on this to provide certainty for these professionals.
How many engineers do you think are not registered?
MBIE has estimated 38 000, but accurate numbers are hard to determine because of a lack of centralised information, and because many people use the word ‘engineer’ to describe their work, even if it does not fall within MBIE’s working definition of engineering.
How will the proposals affect CMEngNZ engineers?
For now, the decisions do not impact our chartered members. We will review our membership pathway and consult members as to whether we keep the CMEngNZ membership class or perhaps transition to ‘international professional engineer’.
Does Engineering New Zealand support the licensing of engineers working in high-risk fields?
Yes. Engineering New Zealand continues to support the licensing of engineers working in high-risk fields.
Which disciplines will be considered for licensing?
These decisions have not been made yet. However, we’d expect disciplines where there is a high risk to public safety, such as structural engineering and fire engineering, would be considered for licensing.
How might the regulator determine which disciplines require a license?
We understand decisions on which disciplines will require a license will be made by the Minister, in consultation with key stakeholders.
Who will manage the operations of this new regime?
This has not been decided yet. The Registrar and Complaints Officer functions will be assigned by the Minister of Building and Construction after legislation has been passed. The new Engineers Registration Board will have oversight of these functions.
The primary legislation will define MBIE as the default provider, but this does not mean MBIE will be the provider. We continue to advocate for government oversight at the right level of regulation, with an appropriate amount of responsibility given to the profession to operate the new system.
What about engineering associates?
We understand a new register for engineering associates (engineering technicians and technologists) will be established. This will bring engineering associates into the proposed regulatory regime. However, registration will not be mandatory for these professionals.
How long would the transition take?
The first step is to pass enabling legislation – the Parliamentary Council Office is responsible for drafting this. The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament later in 2022 or early 2023. It will then need to go through a select committee and its second and third readings, before it is passed. We understand this stage will take about two years.
After the legislation is passed, transition arrangements are expected to take up to six years. CPEng will continue to operate until the new system is fully operational.
Will the new regime cost more or less than current registration?
Alongside the Cabinet paper, MBIE has provided a regulatory impact statement and a cost-benefit analysis setting out the expected costs of operating the new system. We understand fees and levies paid to the regulator are not expected to be significant for those engineers who only need to be registered. MBIE expects the costs for obtaining a license to work in a restricted field are anticipated to be on par with obtaining registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer and reflect the need to verify an engineer’s competence to do higher-risk work.
An additional cost to engineers will be driven by the obligation to undertake continuing professional development. MBIE estimates this could be as high as $3000 per engineer per year due to a loss of billable hours. This is a conservative estimate though, and MBIE acknowledges it could be lower. Part of the difficulty is a lack of accurate data on how much CPD engineers are currently doing.
See more members’ questions and answers from our April 2022 webinar on Cabinet’s decisions on occupational regulation.