Cabinet has agreed to proposals to improve the occupational regulation of engineers. The aim is to ensure engineers are competent, behave ethically and are held to account, and in doing so improve the public’s confidence in the profession.
While many of Aotearoa New Zealand's engineers are highly professional, engineering failures in our recent history highlight that improvement is needed to the engineering regulatory system. The aim of these changes is to lift the public's confidence in the profession by ensuring engineers are competent, behave ethically and are held to account.
A new two-tier regime is being designed that will require anyone providing professional engineering services to be registered to ensure a base level of professionalism. This will cover engineers working in all engineering disciplines, including the major disciplines of civil, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineering.
There will be provisions to avoid overlap with other regimes that already regulate small groups of engineers (such as aviation and marine engineers).
These changes were publicly consulted on in 2021. MBIE received 250 submissions, predominately from the engineering profession. Eighty-four per cent of submitters agreed that there were grounds for intervention, and 81 per cent agreed that all engineers should be subject to occupational regulation. MBIE also received strong support for a code of ethical conduct and for engineers to have professional development obligations.
Engineers will be registered
A new registration requirement is being introduced to make it clearer who can practice as an engineer, making it easier for consumers to know whether an engineer is qualified to practice.
The registration requirement will lift the professionalism of the engineering profession and provide an avenue for addressing poor behaviour and performance. Engineers will be subject to a code of conduct, and new continued professional development obligations will keep engineers’ skills up-to-date.
Restricting practice of high-risk engineering disciplines
The other aspect of the regime is new licensing requirements to restrict practice in high-risk engineering disciplines. This second tier of the regime will regulate who can carry out or supervise engineering work in specified practice fields that have a high risk of harm to the public.
New regulator to oversee registration and licensing process and investigate complaints
An Engineers Registration Board will be established, and supported by a Registrar, Complaints Officer and Disciplinary Committee.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be the default Registrar and Complaints Officer, with the opportunity for other Registrars to be appointed and the Complaints Officer function reassigned.
A bill to introduce these changes is expected to be introduced into Parliament in late 2023.
More information about the law changes - mbie.govt.nz