The local body charged with registering engineers and regulating the sector in Jamaica, the Pro-fessional Engineers Registration Board (PERB), is pushing for more teeth to clamp down on persons who breach its rules.
Chairman Garth Kiddoe says the PERB wants to see major changes to the legal and regulatory framework which governs operations in the engineering sector.
"We have been in discussion with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, and it is taking things through its own process of approval. The ministry has assured me that the process has started," said Kiddoe.
In the latest annual report, the PERB raised concern regarding enforcing of the regulatory framework as regards the registration of foreign engineering firms conducting business in Jamaica.
The law now stipulates that foreign firms must register with the PERB, and if the board is satisfied, it issues a certificate of authorisation.
According to Kiddoe, the board is concerned that the law is not being respected, as local entities may be contracting foreign firms to operate in Jamaica without the required certificate of authorisation.
The annual report also pointed to
a number of recommendations for
changes to the Professional Engineers Registration Board Act. These include adding a penalty for late payment of practising fees, increased authority to strike non-engineers off the register, an increase in the level of fines, elimination of a category for special registration, a revision of registration fees, and inclusion of mandatory continuing education.
The board also wants engineers to have more years of experience before being registered. At present, engineers require two years before they can register. The board wants that increased to four years.
According to Kiddoe, as part of its thrust to fulfil its role of approving academic qualification for engineers, the body has taken steps to maintain an accreditation system. However, the PERB chairman accepts that this is not an easy undertaking.
NOT ATRIVIAL EXERCISE
"The PERB had envisaged establishing an accreditation system, but operating such a system is not a trivial exercise and it is extremely expensive," Kiddoe told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We had tried to do it on our own initially, but that has not worked so well. We have also sought to
do it now through the Greater Caribbean Regional Engineering Accreditation System (GCREAS)," added Kiddoe, as he noted that one of the ultimate goals of the regional body is to gain Washington Accord member status.
The Washington Accord, signed in 1989, is an international agreement among bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programmes. It recognises the substantial equivalency of programmes accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of programmes accredited by any of the signatory bodies be recognised as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering.
If the GCREAS attains Washington Accord member status, it would mean that any engineering programme accredited in Jamaica would gain international recognition and would be accepted in other countries.