AIRAH seeks views on professional registration

AIRAH has opened a survey to assess how HVAC&R building services engineers around the country are being impacted by the introduction of professional registration schemes. In particular, the peak industry body hopes to gauge the degree to which the qualifications requirements of the schemes are locking out highly experienced and knowledgeable practitioners.

AIRAH is supporting the introduction of professional registration schemes through its APER accreditation program. The program has been approved in Queensland and Victoria, and has been designed to support the schemes in NSW and other states and territories as they are rolled out.

COO Sami Zheng says AIRAH has long advocated for professional registration of engineers.

“As highlighted in the Building Confidence report in 2018, professional registration is vital for strengthening Australia’s building and construction industry,” she says. “And by providing an accreditation scheme specifically for mechanical engineers working in HVAC&R building services, AIRAH is ensuring that professionals in our field are assessed by peers who understand the work and can make a qualified judgement about whether someone should be accredited or not.”

But Zheng also notes that AIRAH has had to turn away a number of highly qualified and experienced practitioners from the APER program because they do not meet the narrow qualifications requirements in the state schemes.

“The basic requirement is a Washington Accord degree in mechanical engineering,” she says, “which is certainly the norm for graduates today. But in years gone by, HVAC&R engineers may have completed associate diploma courses, or degrees in other subjects such as building services. Although these pathways were different, they provided an excellent level of education.”

The registration schemes offer an “alternative pathway” for engineers who do not have a Washington Accord degree. But the pathway offered in Australia does not allow for a practical assessment, relying instead on a desk mapping of qualifications.

“We have spoken to senior engineers in multinational firms, engineers who chair Standards Australia committees, owners of firms employing 40 or 50 people, who have been told to go back to university to do a four-year degree in order to get registered,” says Zheng. “It makes no sense that during an acute skills shortage, we are actively excluding some of our best engineers from the workforce.”

Zheng says the first step is to gauge the magnitude of the problem.

“We have opened a confidential survey for all engineers in the HVAC&R building services space, regardless of whether they are AIRAH members, and regardless of whether or not their state or territory has established a professional registration scheme. We are also keen to hear from engineers who are registered, because we have seen that they have valuable perspectives on the issue too.”

“Our goal – like that of the government and other industry stakeholders – is to make our sector stronger with a high-quality professional registration system. This survey will help us achieve that.”

The survey can be accessed here.

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

4 Replies to “AIRAH seeks views on professional registration

  1. Hi, I work for a multi-national corpororation and likewise we had some highly skilled technical staff that could not be registered because they don’t have a qualification such as a degree in engineering. This is dissapointing, as it’s put more load on the engineering team that are registered and potentially limit how we use our highly skilled technical staff.

    The registration process is too lengthy and too much red tape. Needs to be streamlined, as people don;t have days on end to complete forms and paperwork. Also the cost is an issue, as it is becoming expensive for our engineers to practice and keep up their registration.

    Although I am a strong advocate for registration schemes, the process needs improving and cost neds tocome down. Thanks.

  2. Like Vince, I work for a multi-national corporation. Attendance at Uni and degrees have been a fairly common occurrence for many years now and together with appropriate engineering/HVAC experience, in my opinion provide a reasonable starting point for professional registration.

    I totally agree with Vince’s second and third paragraphs as it applies to the registration process in NSW – unnecessarily complex and costly. HVAC in NSW includes:
    – EP&A Act 1979 / Regulation 2021
    – Public Health Act 2010 / Regulation 2022
    – Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 / Regulation 2021
    – Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 / Regulation 2020 (HVAC smoke control)

    Notwithstanding that we live in an increasingly complex world, our politicians and senior bureaucrats seem to be very good at adding layers of legislation and regulations to fill gaps; deal with perceived issues; and sell to the public. Insular state approaches don’t help. l don’t wish to sound too negative but it feels like we’re “chasing our tails” with more laws and litigation. Might be time to revisit the original intent of BCA and streamline building requirements (and registration)

  3. I have long believed in the need for professional registration of Engineers and in particular Building services Engineers , that is why I have strived to maintain my CPD and qualifications despite the onerous requirements .
    Yes there are many well experienced technical personnel out there that can do the job quite well -in particular in WA where the government has allowed this situation to slip under the radar . Things are now changing and those of us who are suitably qualified are seeing the rewards of our efforts to make the industry more professional . Our business has certainly benefited from the tightening of rules around certification and we are now realising a far better service to our clients by having to at least have the designs signed off by certified personnel with protection by adequate PI insurance cover !
    In a way -it is similar to the need to have a licensed electrician or plumber to carry out works on one’s house -there is a chance that this will lead to a far better result in future building services designs through personnel being suitably concerned about third party overview .
    Hopefully -the certification requirements can be streamlined as we move forward to make it a simpler process whilst still maintaining a professional approach !

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