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Process for achieving CEng through IET
Question
Hi, All.

I'm just going through the process now of CEng registration, I have written my application, had it reviewed by 2 PRA's, verified and submitted. One thing though is having to go this far through the process, I am struggling to understand the methodology and reasoning around the process being so convoluted, and making something that is very largely subjectively assessed, against an objective set of requirements, even more subjective. Both my PRA's had different opinions on my application for covering spec areas, and 3 different (PRA/PRI) 'routes to chartered' presentations all recommended slightly, yet subtly, different approaches writing and preparing. Naturally, wanting to understand the future process further, I've scoured this forum and come to the conclusion I'm not alone, and the remainder of the process is full of nuances, I feel I am yet to fully understand

Before I get into the full body of this, I'm not trying to be critical for the reason of not liking the process, it just appears to be a process full of 'signal noise' and risk of 'conversion errors', but I feel if I am better prepared to understand the rationale and reasoning behind the process, I feel better equipped to get through this, as I am confident I am at the required competence level (based on the standard of both colleagues people who I lead), but like most engineers, I don't feel like 'luck' and my own 'confidence' are adequate preparation tools or mitigation measures!

From what I understand at the moment the process seems to be;

UK Spec for competance
II
II--Convert by the applicant (with advice from PRA) (+) conversion losses? (+) noise?
II
IET method for presentation
II
II -- Convert by the Interview committee (+) conversion losses? (-) noise?
II 
UK Spec
II
II -- convert missing items back to IET for the interview committee (+) conversion error? (+) noise?
II
IET interview questions 
II
II -- convert interview questions to cover UK Spec gap (+) conversion error?
II
UK Spec
II= Add presentation (+) conversion error (+) noise
II= request data in new format (Vague questions to convert to UK Spec) (+) signal error? (+) conversion error?
II -- Translate interview response to Interview report (+) conversion error?
II
IET interview report
II
II -- conversion on interview report/assessment form
II
UK Spec

There are other feedback loops in there, for instance when writing your application and checking against achieving spec, and PRA checking application against UK spec yet reporting gaps in the application, that will probably have conversion errors.

I also noted trawling through the comments on here that a PRA noted he would largely ignore competency notes on the application ( e.g. A1, B1-B3) made by the applicant as they could/would usually be wrong or missing from other areas of applicability.

So after all this, given the aim of it is to prove competency as engineers, why we seem to be left with an inefficient process that would be susceptible to errors in the effort of solving a very clear problem (assessing competency against a known spec) and was wondering if anyone could chare the rationale behind converting to and from the UK Spec so many times when we start with the UK Spec and End with the UK spec?

Its seems even more confusing as each body with the right to award against the UK Spec has a different, hence inconsistent, method for assessing.

The main personal conclusion I have come to is that historically asking people to report activities against a competency will not provide a rich enough picture of that competency area historically, so this process was introduced

However, it still feels like, with all the potential for human error in conversion, we are increasing inefficiency and subjectivity?

Again the caveat (and something that seems to be noted by others on here) I'm not saying that one organisation's process is better or worse than another organisation's, though I would say from personal experience the 'other' process was a lot simpler!!!
18 Replies
David

I think you have made the process over complicated. The Professional Engineering Institutions don’t have the “right” to register engineers in any category - they are licensed by the Engineering Council to carry out a peer assessment for applicants to register and this is audited every year.

As you would expect - give a dozen engineers a specification to work to and you will get a dozen different products. Without doubt the IET have a system that is fair and translates the UK spec quite broadly.

The IET’s process is fairly simple - the web site contains the application forms and a lot of advice. Each Application is checked by staff to ensure all documents needed are present and can be verified. A Panel of two assessors and a Moderator/ Registrar - all volunteers, trained in the process and wherever possible from a similar or related background to the applicant, examine the  application and assess the 17 competences and decide whether more information is needed or to recommend the Candidate for interview. Again two volunteers make up the Interview Panel and it is their responsibility to review the application, review the presentation and confirm that all Competences have been met. They prepare an online report which contains algorithms and their scores result in “Accept” , “Borderline” or “Decline”. The report, presentation and the application is assessed by another Panel who’se role is to check that the process has been followed and to ratify the Interviewers recommendation. The candidate is informed of the result. That is eight volunteers to carry out the Peer review.

Again give a dozen PRAs an application and you will get that many different advices. That’s Engineering for you.

I hope this helps - good luck 

Regards Jim Walker
 
Roy Bowdler
818 Posts
David, I’m assuming that you would like to see the issue explored, rather than seek further assistance or air a grievance.

Engineering Council is the responsible body, It owns the standards and regulations. Professional Institutions are licensed to assess members for registration and accredit Universities, other educational institutions and employer’s schemes of professional training.

Professional Institutions have a considerable range capabilities in terms of employed staff, volunteers and collaborative relationships. The IET is arguably the most capable, although some other institutions may have more expertise in their specialism.

At its simplest achieving Chartered Engineer, requires the completion of an Accredited MEng Degree of typically 4 years, followed by a period of accredited initial training and professional supervision, followed by an application and interview to validate competence (UK-SPEC).

However, large numbers of Engineers develop without following this “standard pathway” for various reasons. Common situations for the IET could include; a successful mid-career Engineer who didn’t pass through any of the “standard route” elements, partial coverage perhaps to IEng standard, or who just didn’t bother to register in their twenties.

The IET has sought to offer registration to any credible Engineer and in seeking to treat everyone fairly, arguably overcomplicates. The system has to stand up to audit at several levels and is built on a long-tradition of gaining CEng being a “rite of passage”. It is easy to find older engineers who will tell a story of how much “grief” they were given. Until just over ten years ago the IET (IEE), insisted on a long-winded report with every application in addition to any career history . A bureaucratic, legalistic culture is longstanding, with supervising committees operational and policy, audit committees, etc.

What we have is the current state of evolution, which in my experience the IET is constantly trying to improve, although some institutions have changed little in decades, beyond using some IT instead of paper.

You challenge is a fair one.

A partial solution could in my opinion be for all engineers, to be expected to undertake a period of monitored and supported professional development in preparation for Chartered recognition?
I accept that experienced engineers, may already be competent, but many of the assessment difficulties arise, from the need to carry out a “point in time” assessment on a previously unknown individual. This “court case” or “exam” approach inevitably leads to inconsistent outcomes and even injustices.

Some “error rate” is inevitable, but when we are dealing with potentially humiliating people, we need to be very careful.

Having just read Jim’s post after I wrote the above, I basically agree but am a little less sanguine. There is room for improvement in my opinion.
 
Thanks for your reply Jim

The main thought occurred during sitting through a 'route to becoming chartered' talk and the PRA that was presenting said (to paraphrase) 'one way to start is to sit with the competence statements open in front of you and answer provide evidence how the relevant roles, responsibilities and achievements demonstrated it (at least twice) and then build a narrative around it... being careful not to add useless information, but form a picture that the assessors will understand around your career history and why you deserve to become chartered'.

My immediate thought from that was, 'why take the UK Spec, change the format, then someone else effectively changes it back in the cross-referencing phase?' why not just provide evidence against the UK Spec and remove the ambiguity of where and how you are trying to prove each competence, to something along the lines of;
- Candidate prep evidence directly against UK spec
- Sponsor validates against UK spec (no ambiguity for them i.e verify each piece of evidence against criteria instead of asking them to verify the 5 areas by unravelling your application)
- Interview committee validates, scoring against the UK Spec and recommend for an interview with the 'borderlines' flagged for further info.
- Interviewers conduct the interview against all areas of the spec based on an interview being in 5 areas or 17 sub-areas
- Produce a final report against the Spec to finalise competency against these 17 items.

One thing I would note though is... going through the process of writing out my musings, that were initially puzzling, made me realise that by-and-large we have swapped to competency-based interviewing for jobs with open questions rather than closed, so it's maybe also for that purpose?

There does seem to be some inconsistency of understanding what is required, I think this is reflected when applicants that use a PRA for guidance are sometimes still rejected for an interview, I also didn't find that much practically useful information on the IET resources for filling in the application - all things of note seemed to be found through PRA advice or presentations, this forum and discussion with others.

The other thing that I have found puzzling is that; given the process is to measure competency against the UK Spec, why isn't there a minimum time period after not being successful and re-applying? no stages are supposed to be 'tests' and there are robust steps in place to check for evidence/verification and 'checks and balances' for that verification, surely there must be enough confidence to say 'sorry you aren't at that standard re-apply in x months when you can have conceivably gained that experience'?

Really, all I was hoping for, was that if I could understand the reasoning for the process being a certain way - I could prepare for the interview correctly ensuring a gave the interviewer all they needed to know - but after reading comments on here and listening to PRI's i'm not sure I do or can...

Again, hopefully these are really just nonsense thoughts an musings and within a couple/few of months, I'll have been successful and have the feeling of 'best process in the world'!!!
I fully agree with Jim's comments and would just add that, as he noted, the Assessors, Interviewers and Post Interview panel are all making their judgements as groups of two or more, which minimises the opportunities for personal subjectivity. This is not true for the PRAs as they invariably operate as individuals and there is more likely to be greater variation due to individual subjectivity. The important thing to realise is that all of the volunteers have training from the IET and so the understanding of UK Spec should be (roughly) similar for all.
You say that there were different opinions regarding your application for covering spec areas between the two PRAs, but ask yourself did they disagree about whether you met UK Spec or was it just the detail of what was stated in the application.
One of the advantages of the process is that it makes it possible for the IET to monitor the different parts of the process and see where any problems are in order to introduce improvements where appropriate (which after all is competence C4).
Alasdair
Thanks, Roy.

Yeah, it pretty much sums it up, the process is the process, it seems largely fair and before I ever just aired my criticisms I wanted to clarify my own understanding or perception with the views of respected people on a respectable forum, this is just an observation so far and some of that based on a comparison of going through the process with a similar organisation, certainly not planning a coup!!!

I understand your point and the reasoning makes total sense. I didn't think for a second it the process was developed without thought.

I do classify myself as achieving the broadest criteria you mention i.e. MSc, 20 years experience of training through to engineering leadership in large companies via clearly defined 'engineer roles' so hopefully, yet in reality, the process leaves me with 'pant-troubling' nervousness that I haven't felt in a long time!!!! I guess my thoughts are, If I understand it, I can control my preparation and hence any emotion around it.

Like I said in my reply to Jim, hopefully in a couple of months, I'll be in the camp of 'best process in the world'... guess it's all about perceptions!! 😂
Thanks, Alistair.

The first PRA thought it was good in all areas but gave me some general tips and said he would recommend it be very balance in describing competency areas, the second PRA said it was strong in all areas but advised to be noticeably stronger in A and B to gain confidence and remove any doubt as this is where it usually lies he also advised or suggested a completely different way of describing my A and B level, less matter of fact (it wasn't bullet-pointed or anything like that) and more a rich narrative, so like you say neither of them was disagreeing that I met the spec, it was how I presented the evidence.

I am largely of the opinion that with my background and training achievement will be based on the presentation of information, If I am to achieve the standard as like some I am slowly moving away from explicit engineering roles to engineering leadership roles, and without wanting to sound big-headed or defamatory - I feel drawing comparisons to other Chartered Engineers within my organisation, I should be able to prove competence if they did!!!

I will add though, thanks all for taking the time to read and reply, highlights what a great and supportive group or members we have!
Andy Millar
1731 Posts
And just to expand on Jim's excellent answer:
"So after all this, given the aim of it is to prove competency as engineers, why we seem to be left with an inefficient process that would be susceptible to errors in the effort of solving a very clear problem (assessing competency against a known spec)"
I'd take issue with "a very clear problem" - sadly it isn't! UKSpec is very good - and hopefully issue 4 will be even better - but it will always have the fundamental problem that often we're comparing apples with oranges. It's got to cover the senior developer at a  ground breaking video technology company and the senior site engineer in a naval dockyard - often the only similarity between their jobs can seem to be that they have "engineer" in the job title. As Jim says, every application we see is quite different. And even as PRAs we will tend (much though we work hard not to) to pick on aspects that particularly resonate with our own background - a PRA from a very "structured" industry may give slightly different guidance to one from a very "innovative" industry, but in the end it won't matter - the key point is that we will all help give an independent view as to whether you are effectively "selling" yourself against UK Spec.

As Jim says, the process is actually very straightforward, the only challenging bit is for the applicant to draw out in their application how their meeting their competences without bludgeoning the assessors over the head with it. All the following stages are is: firstly the PAR provide that "critical friend" view to help you spot how you may not have shown yourself to your best advantage, then every other stage is making sure you are getting the fairest possible view, and again the most possible chances to remove misunderstandings. It could be simplified by just putting the application in front of a single panel, but do we really want a judgement on our careers to be made by just three people who've never met us?

The process isn't perfect by any means, personally I'd like to see more feedback on the performance of registered engineers (and indeed those who were refused registration) to ensure that the process is calibrated correctly. There are also challenges in ensuring that the assessment panels understand the particular engineering world that the applicant operates in - to which the answer is, please members volunteer as assessors / interviewers so there is a nice big pool to choose from. 

But what the process clearly does work to ensure, through the multi-staged approach, is that the review has a level of objectivity and is not swayed by the biases of any one member of the review panel. Because in the end, every case is a judgement.  

Thanks,

Andy
 
David

Many thanks for your comments. I have been a volunteer for a number of years now and have done all the aspects for registration. I will admit I prefer the interview stage - you get to meet the candidate and, with luck, have a enlightening discussion on engineering issues. During this lock down interviews have been done using Zoom and Skype which isn't as good as the face to face version but it does work.

I recently interviewed a candidate where both myself and my co interviewer, having gone through the application, wondered how he had got through to interview - his case looked very weak. His field of engineering was fairly narrow which is never going to help. he gave his presentation and as it worked out, neither of us were impressed but then forty minutes in, he made a throw away comment about a previous role he had had with the same employer and "BANG" five minutes of discussing a fairly novel engineering issue (involving the military at fairly high levels) and he had answered all of our doubts.

His application showed that he had consulted a PRA and I would suggest either the advice he got was either lacking or not followed.

As for your presentation pick a subject you know inside out and back to front - get a colleague, who understands the subject, to review it with you and get them to ask all the awkward questions they can - you may find you need to adjust bits and pieces but that is good. Most people are nervous - it's natural but if you're confident that you know what you're at, try to relax. Remember this interview will not result in a promotion or a new job - just the recognition of you as an engineer.

As so that you know I never made CEng - you can't go to university with a wife, three kids and a mortgage - working seven days a week (twice on Sundays) - I studied part time; registered as a Technician Engineer in1979 and was elected Fellow in 1991 of the IEEIE and when they merged was allowed to keep that grade. Throughout my career in Building Services I had CEngs on my team all good guys - I picked them - but a lot I wouldn't let loose with a screwdriver or a measuring tape on site and yes there were occasions when the odd one would challenge my authority as being just an IEng - but that's another debate.

Good luck - stay safe

Jim Walker 
Thanks Andy,

You raise a brilliant point there, which I think would be valuable for me to, hopefully, take forward to my interview - which is - provide very good, clear context with an understanding to the industry I am from and I guess conversely around any situation I pose that a problem has been solved or action taken

I guess an example may me being extremely clear that I'm from an industry where the technicians have a training an understanding of behavioural safety, functional safety and human factors and standard HSE interventions and practices are way beyond reminding people to wear the correct PPE and that would be seen as dumbing down safety, but taking that 'known' for granted in an interview, without context, may paint a poor picture of the applicants 'approach' to health and safety...

thanks definitely the food for thought I was looking for...
David

Apologies but your last message just came up - please understand this process is about you, what you do and how you do it. It is not about the company you work for or the industry you're in. Yes be concise - every sentence should start with "I" - it's about you "we" is never as good. And remember doing it is better than being responsible for it - we've all worked for those who are responsible for it!?

Regards Jim W
Andy Millar
1731 Posts
Also, pick a project to talk about at interview where, if at all possible, you can relate it to any of the competences if asked. Don't be surprised if you talk about a fascinating technology project only to be asked the question, for example, "how does this relate to sustainability?" The correct answer is NOT "well, obviously it doesn't you silly people, weren't you listening???" (I have heard candidates say just that when they've come out of interview!) Remember that the interview, as Jim says, is the chance to really explore the candidate, and in particular any of the competences that they feel didn't come through clearly on the application - those are what they are going to ask about.

So even if the project you talk about doesn't cover every single competency, make sure you've remembered other examples that do - so the correct answer above was "actually sustainability didn't particularly come into this project, however the year before I had lead a very successful energy efficiency project on..."

So bear in mind when choosing your project to present at interview that UKSpec is not about achieving "any 3 out of 5" competences, it's about showing all 5.

Cheers,

Andy
Andy Millar:
UKSpec is not about achieving "any 3 out of 5" competences, it's about showing all 5.

And in fact it is about showing each of the sub-competences within all five. If you fail to show one of the sub-competences then that is likely to be judged a fail (though if you are weak in one it can be compensated by strength in the other related sub-competences, but I would not recommend relying on this to get you through).
I have a colleague who is up for his interview today (possibly as I type this) and to help him I sat through his presentation last week - in fact I sat through twice as the first time it took 23 minutes, had the first ten minutes just setting the background, and only talked of what was done in generalisations so I suggested a major rewrite which I reviewed towards the end of the week. At the second run through I was able to sit with UKSpec in front of me (on the second screen) and tick off each sub-competency as they were referenced in the presentation, which I would recommend as an exercise for anyone preparing for their interview. If you can't tick them off, then the interviewers are unlikely to accept them without further probing. (Please note I am not saying that if you do tick them off that the interviewers will accept them - I was perhaps being generous with my acceptance in some cases but they were cases where the interviewers can always ask more detailed questions if they think the evidence is insufficient.)

Thanks again for the advice Alasdair, it's all very insightful.

I must admit, I had to stop reading through this forum over the weekend though, I found myself double questioning myself for the application that I have put in and put in and won't be amending (hopefully!!!!)

I think what has struck me on here, dealing with PRA's and attending talks/webinars about the route to chartered is; how much the advice from PRA's/PRI's differs across the board other in some major key areas, such as the application form, and I guess an amount of that will extend to the interview as well. (also, there are some very reoccurring 'common-themes' that I'll certainly bear in mind)

I did notice there were various comments about the length of the application and career history should be limited to 2-4 pages as its all part of effective communication, should be clear and concise, short and to the point, and using max. 3000 characters to describe each competency. On the other hand - I was 'advised' to use a singular full-page (at least) to describe in detail a narrative for a single engineering project that would really demonstrate my A and B competences. Similarly, I was advised, 'you are well within the 12 pages (total printed via career manager - as per IET guidelines), so use them, you can afford to' - yet read on the forum PRA's/PRI's saying they wouldn't even bother to read an overly long application and an application at 12 pages in length is too long!

Other comments on the forum have said 'we're not looking for a full careers history/extended CV', however, that exactly the format that career manager and auto-generated application form lead you down.

The majority of webinar/talks have advised demonstrating each of the 17 sub-competencies at least twice through the application, yet the IET (6 page!!!) 'the chartered engineer standard', states that you are not required to give multiple examples to demonstrate competence'

One the forum, I have noted that PRI's have mentioned that they don't like the career manager format and that it just reduces the process to box filling, yet IET actively encourages (and give you a financial benefit) for using career manager!.

I also noted that PRI's have stated sometimes they are surprised how a candidate has been progressed to interview, yet many of the comments seek to reassure that each step of the process, checks and balances are in place to ensure the correct conclusion is reached, so from that I would assume the PRI should be about squaring the circle, rather than getting the compass out to start from scratch scribing the circle... 

It still goes back to my first ever post that it would seem logical, that if the above is the majority of opinions of the people reviewing the applications, 'to effectively, concisely and 'to the point' describe within 3000 characters, your competence within the 5 areas (17 total sub-areas) It would be possibly more efficient to have the application form broken into the 5 competency areas.

One point of note, both my supporters' comments totalled circa 15,000 characters (5 pages on career manager) pushing the final printed version to circa 15-16 pages, hope it doesn't get, 'not-read' especially as I have paid £200 for the privilege!!!

All in all, that's why I decided to stop reading comments in this section of the forum, advice on here, but alas, here I am again 😂

Anyway, not a robust engineering problems mitigations, but fingers crossed I'm onto the next stage, and I can use all this great advice in preparation for an interview. 

Thanks again all!
 
David

I think my initial reply to you was that I thought you were making this too complicated. The reason for limiting the amount included in a submission became necessary due to some applications running to excessive amounts. One instance on a Pre PRI panel I had a candidate from the Building Services discipline submit 165 pages!!! He had sent in a complete set of design drawings and specification for a project - most of it was not his original text - standard spec and contract clauses etc. I joked at the face to face sessions we used to have that I had priced the job and expected an order shortly!

I believe the limit is supposed to be 12 A4 pages of script - however you set it about it, if you don't wont to use the proforma set up, it has to be possible to to describe the 17 competences required to achieve registration in that volume of script - if you're struggling, I would step back and have a think about it!

The PRI panel's job is to confirm those competences are there. It isn't complicated. I use a spreadsheet I set up to tick the boxes - none of which are ticked before the interview - if I'm struggling to find what I'm looking for following the presentation I start asking questions that will hopefully give me what I'm looking for. All candidates do it differently - it would be strange if they didn't. Everybody involved in the Peer Review is from a similar or related background to the candidate - the staff work hard to make sure that is the case wherever possible; on occasions they will go outside the Institution's pool of volunteers and seek help from other PEIs.

Anyway good luck with the interview - remember we're all looking to grant you your registration - when a decline occurs (and that's not often) all involved look very deeply at what has occurred and the PRI panel is usually quizzed to give a fuller explanation as why a candidate has failed. It really doesn't happen very often.

Regards Jim W
david oliver:

Other comments on the forum have said 'we're not looking for a full careers history/extended CV', however, that exactly the format that career manager and auto-generated application form lead you down.
...
One point of note, both my supporters' comments totalled circa 15,000 characters (5 pages on career manager) pushing the final printed version to circa 15-16 pages, hope it doesn't get, 'not-read' especially as I have paid £200 for the privilege!!!

David,
I agree with your comments about CM here and perhaps ought to say publicly that I don't like the CM application format. It takes extra work to tweak it to make it a good application rather than a CV format, though there are other advantages with CM, such as the electronic format makes it so much easier for the IET to process (hence the reduced fees).
The supporters comments are not counted in the application length so there is no need to worry on that score. They are probably not going to be reviewed in detail unless the application seems borderline, as with a very strong application they are less important and with a very weak application the competences are not shown (either because they haven't been met or because the communication competency is failed....).
Very best wishes for a successful application.
Alasdair

Andy Millar
1731 Posts
Hi David,

"It would be possibly more efficient to have the application form broken into the 5 competency areas."

IIRC for a few years (in the 2000s?) it was laid out like that (indeed down to the sub-competences). I rather liked that format but at the time I never met anyone else, on either side of the fence, who did. Maybe someone who had experience of it at the time can remind us what the problems were? Or am I completely mis-remembering??

That said: I'm not an assessor or PRI for registration (I'm a PRA), but I have been assessing engineers for other purposes for a very large number of years, and it's a funny thing - it seems "logical" to ask them to just demonstrate point-by-point where their competences lie in whatever you are to trying to prove them competent for, but in practice the "career history" approach gives a much warmer feeling that they do actually really understand their subject, and have shown they do. As we've all been saying, it is all a bit of a judgement (anyone can say they're an expert C++ programmer, how do you decide who is?) so building that story of the career path really helps make that judgement. 

Thanks,

Andy
Roy Bowdler
818 Posts
David,

Your post offers valuable insight into the registration application experience. I agree that it can be fraught with uncertainty and mixed messages. Ultimately most IET applications are successful and the issues that you describe are quickly forgotten once basking in the glow of having achieved a significant professional milestone.

I agree with an earlier comment by Jim (I think) that “this is the nature of engineering”. There are many other professions where it is rare for two practitioners to exactly agree.

The IET process, procedure and importantly the consensus amongst registration volunteers, advising and/or assessing members is not a fixed point. Other institutions have differently evolving consensuses. Those involved interpret the same requirement, or similar evidence in different ways.

We tend to end up “defending” the status quo, but as I said in my earlier post this is just the current state of evolution. With caveats and “excuses” about low cost and voluntarism, it is reasonably successful, but it is well short of “perfect”.

If it seems overcomplicated to you and many others, then it is. The primary purpose of the system is to enable competent and ethical professionals to register.

To play devils advocate here.
  • Why would a successful mid-career Engineer with a solid record of employment in clearly credible situations not be competent?
  • Why would someone who has followed a supervised pathway of accredited academic qualifications, training and professional supervision not be competent?
  • Why should a candidate have to interpret generic UK-SPEC requirements to their circumstances and artificially divide aspects of their work to fit the framework? The artificial division can be broken in an instant by the question; “which box should I put this in?” Answer it could go in several!
  • Should it not be the responsibility of experienced assessors, rather than candidates for registration to tease out competence from evidence of achievement? What has familiarity with UK-SPEC got to do with being a good engineer?
Partly in answer to Andy, If we go back 25+ years when academic qualifications were the primary form of evidence, some attributes were created as a “bolt-on” to give structure to the evaluation of work practice. Some institutions still carry out essentially the same practice as they did then.

The IEE/IET evolved an application process which included a career history or extended CV and a Qualifying Report on Professional Development (QRPD), which would now be called a “full competence statement”. This is now only used after initial scrutiny when assessors are dissatisfied. A request for additional information around specific competences is more common, A&B being the most likely.

The QRPD was dropped when it became clear that thousands of members had “parked” partially completed applications, because the QRPD seemed to many like a long-winded exercise of little obvious added value.

Career Manager was modelled on the same principle. I won’t comment, but an earlier post expressed a dislike of it. In general the process felt to many people, full of “necessary hoops” to jump and at one time “petty an pedantic” barriers (especially academic ones).


UK-SPEC is a respectable effort to draw together many different types of engineering practice into a generic framework. However, its only a political compromise. A “horse designed by a committee”. It cannot reliably divide experienced engineers into two categories and wasn’t designed to.

The problem with treating UK-SPEC reverentially, like a canonical text, is that you have to use a priesthood to interpret it.

For the avoidance of doubt, I know how hard IET staff and volunteers have worked to evolve the process over many years, but it is very difficult to reconcile the positions of different stakeholders. Magnify that, when it comes to Engineering Council who control registration.



 
Andy Millar
1731 Posts
Good questions Roy!
 
Why would a successful mid-career Engineer with a solid record of employment in clearly credible situations not be competent?
Because they have always worked for one organisation where a very specific skill set has allowed them to "rise through the ranks". The type of engineer who gets to a senior level and then is mortified to find that they are unemployable when they are made redundant, because all they actually know (in HUGE detail) are the historic processes of one organisation.

Why would someone who has followed a supervised pathway of accredited academic qualifications, training and professional supervision not be competent?
Hate to say it, but it's possible to pass exams in a subject by learning how to pass the exams in a subject, doesn't mean you have any interest in applying that knowledge to real world problems. And without that interest you're probably not going to be competent.
 
Why should a candidate have to interpret generic UK-SPEC requirements to their circumstances and artificially divide aspects of their work to fit the framework? The artificial division can be broken in an instant by the question; “which box should I put this in?” Answer it could go in several!
What a good question. Some assessors would say "if you don't show the aptitude to interpret UK Spec by yourself then how can you have the aptitude to do engineering?" I don't disagree with the "aptitude" part of this, but it's very important for us to appreciate that engineers don't have to apply for registration, and it's something they'll mostly only do once, so why should they bother with the hassle of trying to work out some arcane process? What I do think is important is that candidates use this as an opportunity to self-assess their competences against UK Spec, coming back to the first point it is an excellent process to ensure they are well rounded and haven't (accidentally or deliberately) got themselves into a narrow perspective on their work. But as to whether a candidate should consider it part of life to have to work out completely by themselves how to present this on the form, if I believed that I wouldn't bother volunteering as a PRA! That's why we're there to help.

Should it not be the responsibility of experienced assessors, rather than candidates for registration to tease out competence from evidence of achievement? What has familiarity with UK-SPEC got to do with being a good engineer?
As above, I do think candidates should take this as an opportunity to think whether their work is  aligned to UK Spec, in fact for many candidates that's probably more useful than getting the letters after their name. Are you really taking an evidence based approach to your work, or just doing what's always been done / feels right? Are you thinking about how you deal with customers and other staff or do you expect them to just put up with you? Do you think about the environmental or quality impacts of your work, or do you see that as somebody else's problem? We have plenty of engineers (and always have) who spend too much time and too much money engineering very clever but fundamentally flawed systems that don't actually solve anybody's problem, and then don't tell anyone what they've done which means it can't be fixed. If only they all worked to UK Spec... So I'd actually say quite the opposite, a candidate being able to say "this is how I make sure my work conforms to UK Spec (and ideally why)" is a candidate who can show they understand that they've thought about the fact there's more to being an engineer than doing the maths - or indeed ordering other people to do the maths for you!

Cheers,

Andy

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