Everyone wants a regulatory system that is trusted and keeps New Zealanders safe. This means engineers working within their competence and being held to account when necessary. It means assurance that engineers can undertake specific, safety-critical work.
CPEng doesn’t regulate safety-critical engineering work
At the moment, there is no mandatory professional regulation of engineers carrying out safety-critical work in New Zealand.
As a result, people are trying to make CPEng fulfil a function it wasn’t designed for. CPEng is a voluntary quality mark that conveys general competence rather than proven ability to perform specific work.
CPEng doesn’t stop engineers operating outside their areas of competence. Nor does it provide enough assurance that an engineer can do specific, safety-critical work.
But some of CPEng’s requirements, like ongoing reassessment, are more aligned with what you would expect from a licensing regime. This creates confusion about its role.
What would be a better way of regulating engineers?
We think the government should regulate safety-critical engineering work, while the professional body should operate a general, voluntary quality mark. This means the government restricts access to who can perform safety-critical engineering work while Engineering New Zealand provides public assurance that engineers meet professionalism and general competence benchmarks.
Chartered Membership, which we introduced in 2017, was specifically designed to complement a licensing regulatory system. It’s a credible, internationally benchmarked, general quality mark that establishes a base level of professionalism and technical competence.
Once licensing is in place, our Chartered Member class would be renamed Chartered Engineer, in line with other international jurisdictions. Other current Chartered Member categories would also be renamed; for example, Chartered Engineering Geologist, Chartered Engineering Technologist, and Chartered Engineering Technician.
People will be able to search the official list of Chartered Engineers online.