Browse through the frequently asked questions on MBIE's proposals for occupational regulation.
Do you have a question that’s not answered below? Email us and we’ll add it to this list.
Do you support the proposal?
We support the proposal in that we also believe it highly desirable to have mandatory registration of engineers and regulation of high-risk engineering work. We think this would benefit the public and the profession.
We also agree that registration should include a commitment to a Code of Ethical Conduct and Continuing Professional Development; that there needs to be greater Government restriction on who can undertake high-risk engineering work; governance of registration and licensing functions should be separated from Engineering New Zealand’s governance board; and that protection of title is required to minimise confusion.
We favour the establishment of an independent board to oversee the registry of engineers and allied professions. For reasons of simplicity, efficiency, and sector knowledge, Engineering New Zealand should continue to provide this service.
What’s different about this proposal from the 2019 proposal?
In 2019, MBIE proposed voluntary certification. MBIE now proposes compulsory registration.
We support this in principle. Compulsory registration has the potential to introduce further accountability into the system and increase public confidence.
Has MBIE worked with Engineering New Zealand to develop this proposal?
We have had ongoing discussions with MBIE about occupational regulation of engineers but MBIE has full ownership of the proposals.
What’s the logic behind early-career registration? What problem is this trying to solve?
Our understanding is 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.
Would registration just require qualification check, commitment to ethics and CPD?
Our interpretation of the proposals is that these will be the key components of registration. MBIE is proposing that this level of operational detail will be managed by the regulator.
Who would be captured by registration?
This is a question for MBIE. The proposal recommends all professional engineers (those with a four-year Washington Accord degree), who are undertaking engineering work as defined in the proposal, should be captured by registration. Allied professions – such as engineering technologists, engineering technicians, and engineering geologists – could be captured on separate registers.
At what level do you think registration should sit?
We haven’t finalised our position on this – we’d like your thoughts on this.
How many engineers do you think are not registered?
We aren’t sure. As MBIE has outlined in their discussion document, conclusive information on the number of engineers in New Zealand isn’t available. Using 2018 Census information on the total number of self-declared engineers, and excluding those that hold Engineering New Zealand membership, MBIE estimates there to be around 14,000 engineers who are not regulated. However, MBIE acknowledges that other estimates put this figure as high as 50,000 (see our work with PWC).
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.
What disciplines are considered high-risk?
There are many disciplines that work in high-risk fields. MBIE’s discussion document highlights structural, geotechnical and fire safety. This list is not exclusive and the regulator could determine whether licenses are required in other disciplines.
How might the regulator determine other disciplines that require a licence?
In restricting high-risk fields, MBIE proposes the regulator consider the risk of significant harm posed by substandard work in the practice field, readiness of the practice field to be licensed and whether the practice field is restricted by other regulators that rely on the engineer being registered as CPEng. We support this approach.
What happens if I hold CPEng and don’t work in a high-risk field?
For now there is no change to CPEng. Any regulatory change is likely to take some years. Until then, CPEng remains the benchmark for general competence in engineering in New Zealand and has international equivalence.
Do you support the establishment of a new regulator?
Yes. We support MBIE’s proposal to establish a new regulator (a board), which reports to a Minister of the Crown. We support regulatory functions being delegated to a service provider. Our preference is that Engineering New Zealand be the regulatory service provider. The establishment of a new regulator with different reporting lines removes conflict of interest between the regulator and professional body.
Would Engineering New Zealand continue to hold the regulatory functions of a new system?
MBIE is asking for feedback on this. The Minister would have the power to delegate some or all regulatory functions to a service provider, such as Engineering New Zealand. We would welcome these kinds of arrangements as they are efficient and minimise complexity for New Zealand engineers.
How much will this regime cost me?
ACE New Zealand is working with its members to better understand the compliance costs and business implications associated with the proposal. It’s important that any proposal is workable, cost effective and adds value.
Will the new regime cost more or less than current registration?
We don’t know. ACE New Zealand is working with its members to better understand the possible costs. The current annual fee for CPEng is $460 and there is a $1,565 fee for the initial assessment. We wouldn’t want to see to costs become unduly onerous for those who are currently registered with CPEng or members and engineers who are considering CPEng registration.
What is the timeline for implementing the new regime if these proposals are confirmed?
MBIE have indicated that any regulatory change is likely to take about six years.
What about international mobility?
MIBE have asked for feedback of the impact of their proposals on international mobility.
It is our view that the regulator should have the flexibility to recognise and automatically deem some existing practitioners as registered. This would support international mobility and long-standing international agreements.
We do not think the regulator should have the flexibility to recognise and automatically deem some existing practitioners as licensed. This is because licensing classes will require New Zealand specific experience and be tailored to current knowledge and skills.
Why proceed with changes to CPEng if it’s going to be repealed?
We don’t yet know for certain that CPEng will be repealed. And any regulatory change driven by MBIE will take time to implement – five years or more. This means changing what’s under our control, now – which is why we’re continuing to look at how best to strengthen CPEng. Any work we undertake on CPEng will inform the development of the new system moving forward. It will also help us support and transition to a new system.
If CPEng is repealed, will it still exist?
We don’t know.
When will a ‘new look’ CPEng be revealed?
We don’t have a timeframe for this. However, moves to strengthen CPEng are an immediate priority for us.
Should I stop applying for CPEng?
No – you should continue applying for CPEng. Any regulatory change is likely to take some years. Until then, CPEng remains the benchmark for general competence in engineering in New Zealand and has international equivalence.