By Evans Ongwae
Engineering technologists and technicians who join their professional society and get registered by the regulator stand to benefit immensely. They become more appreciated by employers and reap what they are worth as professionals because they have a voice to demand better pay.
Additionally, these professionals can agitate for better working environments. This has become possible because of a positive change in the regulatory environment brought about by the Engineering Technology Act 2016, the law that governs the practice of the profession in Kenya.
The Kenya Engineering Technology Registration Board (KETRB) Chairman, Prof George Thumbi, says in the past, the country lagged behind other nations in streamlining the regulation of different cadres in the engineering field.
Prof Thumbi appreciates that the law has now taken care of the needs of engineering technologists as a distinct cadre of professionals. He, however, argues that the country has not reached the levels of streamlining and harmonisation of the engineering profession attained in developed countries.
The KETRB Chairman asserts that all cadres of the engineering profession have a role to play in the country’s development using their distinctive sets of skills.
KETRB Registrar, Alice Mutai, adds that the Board supports engineering technologists to receive quality training, practise professionally and earn amounts commensurate with the skills they possess.
She observes that when engineering technologists and technicians conduct themselves ethically, society’s safety is guaranteed.
KETRB, she explains, verifies the works and services by these professionals. The Board also ensures that curricula by training institutions are of the same standard and quality.
Ms Mutai adds that KETRB also disciplines professionals who do not act according to the law. Part VI of the Engineering Technology Act 2016 provides for penalties for offences by these professionals.
The law explains how to deal with those who obtain licences fraudulently, employ people not regulated by KETRB, and unaccredited institutions that offer training. People who train in unaccredited colleges waste their time and money because KETRB, the industry regulator, won’t recognise them.
Professionals can be held accountable for the work they do or services they deliver. Employers, too, can be held accountable for employing unregulated individuals.
The KETRB Registrar says regulation allows the engineering technologists and technicians to network. Under their umbrella professional body – the Institute of Engineering Technologists and Technicians (IET) – they also get to share knowledge on emerging technologies.
Ms Mutai adds that through networking, these professionals learn of new job opportunities. On their part, employers get the chance to hire skilled people.
KETRB registers graduates who have earned craft, artisan, diploma, national diploma or Bachelor of Technology in Engineering qualifications. Under a new policy, the country now recognises people who obtained certain skills informally, in what is known as Recognition of Prior Learning.
The Board has been busy raising awareness among engineering technologists and technicians that there’s a law governing their practice since 2016.
These professionals also need to know about the three international accords that govern the different cadres in the engineering field.
The Washington Accord, first signed in 1989, recognises that professional engineering education programmes accredited by the signatories deliver outcomes substantially equivalent to the Washington Accord Graduate Attributes (or learning outcomes).
The Sydney Accord, signed in June 2001, commits the signatories to the development and recognition of good practice in engineering education. It specifically focuses on academic programmes dealing with engineering technology.
The Dublin Accord, signed in May 2002, established the required educational base for engineering technicians.