Chartered Engineer licensing latest petition status

In response to a petition from members, Trustees and Council are working with the Engineering Council to investigate the licensing of Chartered Engineers.

In response to a petition from members the Institution is working with the Engineering Council to investigate the licensing of Chartered Engineers.

Some 55 members sent a petition to the Trustees requesting the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to conduct a ballot of its corporate members with regard to:

  • Parity with similar titles in the European Union for the title Chartered Engineer
  • Recognition of the title Chartered Engineer in UK Statute
  • Use of the title of CEng as a pre-nominal recognised within the European Union
  • A strategy to raise public awareness of the title Chartered Engineer and pre-nominal CEng
  • Online training to enhance careers in leadership
  • Transparency in present and future plans of the Institution

The questions of legal parity, recognition and title have been discussed and considered by the Institution’s elected bodies – the Trustees and Council – most recently in 2010 as part of a wider review on the licensing of engineers conducted for Council by a Working Party of members chaired by Alwyn Boardman, and which included the CEO of the Engineering Council.  This latest review examined the following four options:

  • Status Quo
  • Protected title by statute
  • Protected practice by statute
  • Statutory regulation through a new statutory body

After significant debate on these options in Council, as in previous deliberations over the years, no one case had overwhelming support amongst members.  Trustees concluded that as the Engineering Council regulates the title Chartered Engineer, it is they who can and should carry the torch for the profession as a whole; and their new Working Party  which has an Institution representative will investigate this, in effect ensuring that the members’ petition has been formally brought to the attention of the Engineering Council which is reviewing the Institution’s Working Party report.

In addition, the Institution has requested the Engineering Council to review its currently stated position (which was guided by the 2003 Engineering Technology Board review and earlier work) which can be summarised as: The Engineering Council does not believe that statutory registration and protection of title will afford the public greater protection than that which is provided by the current voluntary registration scheme.  Furthermore, it does not believe that the status of engineers will be enhanced by such an act.  The Institution has also requested the Engineering Council to be more open and transparent in its deliberations on these matters to the profession of engineering as a whole. 

The Trustees considered, in view of the debate by elected members of the Institution’s Council in 2010, that a ballot of members would be unlikely to achieve a strong mandate for the action requested in the petition.  This is because of the conflicting views of members and because, from past experience, it is likely that around 20% of members would vote.  It was felt that this would be more likely to undermine the process, rather than strengthen the case.

The published strategy of the Institution is to raise public awareness of the profession of engineering as a whole, including Engineering Technicians and Incorporated Engineers.  Whilst not complacent, Trustees considered this ongoing strategy to be succeeding in terms of the upward trends in university and FE college applicants, new membership, and raised measured public, political and governmental awareness. 

With regard to the issue of leadership training, the Institution is already in the process of widening its offerings and is currently considering investment opportunities in leadership training for engineers.  Innovative and unique training services are set to be announced in the very near future.

The strategy and activities of the Institution are available publicly and to members via the Institution website, PE Magazine, the Annual Report, Institution meetings, subscription mailings and a variety of Institution-led social networking channels.  Strategy and activities can be influenced through the elected members of Council, the Trustee Board and the six main member Boards.  For international members, this influence can be exercised through the three international members of Council and through the international member of the Trustee Board, currently Paul Arora.  The Institution also holds and publishes regular surveys of its members.  Members are welcome (and do) to write to the President or the Chief Executive at any time. 

The Institution is always keen to encourage debate and greater transparency on the issues raised in the petition and welcomes views and further comments from any members.  Please use the 'Post your comment' function below to let us know your views, or email the President or Chief Executive

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17 comments from readers

Eur Ing Dr. Chris Bale

30 June 2011 at 12.53

It appears that the Institution is ducking the issue requested in the petition. If the members of council cannot decide which of the 4 options to pursue, why not let the Corporate Members vote? Instead of just passing the question over to the Engineering Council, why does the Insitution not take a lead and actively promote the protection.

Good work done raising the PR exposure of IMechE is not the same as raising the proper and protected status of professional engineers.

Matthew Webster

30 June 2011 at 13.16

I'm sorry but what world are these people on?

Unless the title of engineer is protected in statute engineers will still be the people who fix blocked toilets and washing machines and put up satellite dishes. We should be proud of our title but when talking to the general public unless we explain in detail what we do the term "engineer" is worthless.

This is the one issue the institution should be working on as its top priority. We are the members and looking after our interests and reputations should be one of the fundamental aims.

Once again there is the usual rhetoric about upholding the name of engineers etc. etc. in the manifestoes of those on the council and various committees but when it comes to the crunch it seems it is all just hot air.


30 June 2011 at 13.51

The licensing of C.Eng's.would achieve little unless a legal requirement to employ them exclusively for certain responsibilities were enacted.This has obvious difficulties.Of all the professions,it is not unreasonable to suggest that engineers are most likely to be faced with conflicting pressures of professional ethics and commercial pressures,easy to resolve in theory but not so in practice.

Max Adams

30 June 2011 at 14.00

As long as engineers are regarded as technicians and tradesmen, the position and status of engineers is that of technicians and tradesmen. Having worked and as a result hold a licence to practice in North America, I know the status is protected, standards protected as the licence is subject to loss for bad practice. To have a company name with the word engineer or derivatives is not permitted unless the company employs or carries out engineering work and proof of this is required before the company may use the word. In the UK there is no public recognition of engineers or method of removal or censure nor protection of the title. So please continue to wear blinkers and ignore reality. Engineers are useless at business by Lord Sugars-even though companies like Westinghouse, Siemens always had senior executives, who are/were engineers (Westinghouse went broke after an accountant was made the CEO for the first time in the company's history-perhaps there is a moral there). Yes to licences

Gregory Moffatt

30 June 2011 at 15.37

I suspect that although many items that call on the membership to pass opinions or vote on a subject would only attract 20% (or less) of the membership to respond, I would expect (certainly hope) that a much higher percentage would resond to a call for statutary recognition of the term Chartered Engineer, and although many may not generally use the pre-nominal they may well support it's recognition for times when they feel it is appropriate (just as they treat the post-nominal CEng).

Brian Crangle

30 June 2011 at 16.11

I've been a member for over 50 years and this topic has been around for at least as long.There is no doubt whatsoever that the title of engineer is meaningless in the UK and will remain so unless and until someonetakes up the issue. It has always been my belief that the Institution should address this issue and least start to move the process forward.

Kithsiri De Silva

30 June 2011 at 17.11

It is only a presumption that "from past experience, it is likely that around 20% of members would vote". It appears that the Institution had given up even without trying. Statutory recognition will certainly enhance status of engineers although it would be the responsibility of engineers to safeguard it.

Technicians and anyone with tools are allowed to call themselves engineers and this has to be curtailed with through legal provisions that will go hand in hand with the statutory status suggested.

Now that the ball has been passed over to the Engineering Council, the Institution has to follow this up with the suggestions made.

For what its worth, it would be better to have a vote to get the consensus of the members initially. At least it may prove that engineers are very much concerned about their status than what is presumed as of now. Let us VOTE on this now!

Michael A Fanstone

30 June 2011 at 17.22

1 While the Institutes remain separate and strive for dominance in the Profession we will not have a big enough voice. Council should renew efforts to join with other Institutions.

2 Individually we should always answer ,when asked what do you do? that we are Engineers or, if feel the need to qualify, Professional Engineer.

Philip Corp

30 June 2011 at 18.40

There's already a prenominal, EurIng, available - how many people acquire and use that, and what if any impact does it have and where?

Charles Pywell

30 June 2011 at 23.54

I live and work in Queensland Australia where it is a legal requirement that specified engineering work is under the supervision of and signed off by a Registered Professional Engineer (RPEQ). My experience is that this statutory obligation enhances standards, although as professional engineers we might wish it were not so. Yes it may cause some conflicts of interest, but the public as a whole receives better advice/service/product.

The statutory requirement goes some way to setting RPEQs apart from non RPEQ engineers, including non-RPEQ CPEng-es (our equivalent of CEng), and of course from the inevitable trades use of "engineer".

I agree with other respondents that the Institution should lead on this issue.

Richard Spencer

01 July 2011 at 02.41

When will the decisions about the future of engineering cease to be made by the Oligarchs in London, without prior consultation with the Engineering fraternity at large.

One could make the observation that the view expressed above is yet another example of the demise of the Roman Empire with "Nero" watching as Rome burnt. This is analogous to the head of the EC and the Engineering Profession generally.

Where is the Plan, where is the desire to discuss with the engineering fraternity the EC says it represents?

With a new BT IMechE perhaps we can get this issue in front of the decision makers based on an argument which is yet to be formally set out.

Geoff Stone

01 July 2011 at 06.39

The Trustees should have the courage to put it to the members. this could be done when next subscriptions are requireded. A simple mandatory question "Yes/No/Dont Care" before the subscription can be submitted by hard copy or electronically, will ensure a larger response.

Stop avoiding the issue!

Keith Rodaway

01 July 2011 at 08.50

Having also been a member for over 50 years I would like to support exactly the comments by Brian Crangle.

Nick Schulkins MBE

01 July 2011 at 09.33

I understand everyone's frustration, but I support the Trustee Board's position on this issue and it is correct to refer the matter to the EngC, as the EngC must represent the views of all the engineering profession as a whole. The IMechE membership must take credit for raising the issue and its HQ staff must also take credit for recent successes in raising the profile of engineering in the media and with politicians. Whilst it is attractive to seek statutory recognition for the title of engineer, it is not going to happen because there is no support either in industry or in Government for what is perceived as the potential just to increase costs at a time when this cannot be afforded. In my view we must take the route of persuading the insurance industry that companies can reduce their risks through only using registered chartered, incorporated or engineering technicians and thereby create an incentive to reduce premiums. Meanwhile, the EngC should be more proactive with the media.

Allan Davidson

01 July 2011 at 11.12

I would just like to echo the earlier comment that

"The licensing of C.Eng's.would achieve little unless a legal requirement to employ them exclusively for certain responsibilities were enacted."

All efforts should be directed towards such an end, as any other form of protection would be difficult implement, given the current starting point.

Initially perhaps only a few roles would be covered by a legal requirement, with more added progressively. So this is a long term project - as somene else pointed out, we are only 50 years into it.

Richard Spencer

01 July 2011 at 15.21

For further discourse on the matter members can also join the LinkedIn page below. There is a growing mood of discontent and it may mean that petitioners will again need to call for a referendum on this matter.

o Group: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
o Discussion: Referendum: To Establish an Act which describes the Title "Chartered Engineer" as being the Professional Title of An Engineer appointed by the Engineering Council. If you Support this Please Signify.

"You may or may not be aware that the latest Agenda Newsletter from IMechE issued to members by email today has an extensive article outlining the deliberations of Council and Trustees on the subject of Richard's petition." - Posted by Richard Gray

William A.Adam

7 August 2011 at 15.54

As a former student member, now Fellow and a former branch Chairman, I have much to thank the IMechE for my career development and personal success. However, our Institution is a learned body founded by Stephenson, who at the time required no personal image building and the UK was world top dog in Mechanical Engineering. Times have changed and we were first overtaken. Now we have have only 9% of the European market. It is an undisputed fact that the image of our profession has fallen below that in any other country. Research into this subject should include other countries with whom we are competing globally. Recently, at a top level non engineering meeting, the MC referred to me as an international scientist as he could not wish to lower my image to that of an engineer. For this reason, engineers are not sufficiently represented in the corridors of power, which has created an imbalance in national leadership just when science and technology rule.


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