E.g., 04/18/2014
E.g., 04/18/2014

Skills, Professional Regulation, and International Mobility in the Engineering Workforce

July 2013

Skills, Professional Regulation, and International Mobility in the Engineering Workforce

Professionals in regulated occupations often face significant obstacles gaining certification to work in other countries, finding it difficult to demonstrate the value of their qualifications. This can result in barriers to entering work and to international mobility. This report examines the hurdles that engineers face in translating their credentials and work experience to other countries.

The engineering profession has devoted much effort to initiatives aimed at reducing international barriers to the recognition of engineering qualifications, proposing common standards for accredited education programs and establishing international registers. Yet current arrangements for international recognition of qualifications remain very complex, and the impacts of cooperative initiatives on mobility are poorly understood.

This report explains the basic structure of the engineering workforce, and the key elements that influence the ability of engineers to move across borders. It examines recent efforts to address and cope with differences in national arrangements for tertiary education as well as the requirements for admission to the profession. It also considers how serious the barriers to international migration for engineers are in practice.

In Europe, the creation of a common market and currency is thought to have helped the position of the European Union (EU) economies in science and technology fields. As a major portion of European technological trade occurs within the borders of the EU, the ability of engineering professionals to work across the borders of Member States will greatly affect future economic growth in this area.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Engineering Skills and Structure of the Workforce

III. The Role of Qualifications in Engineering Careers

IV. Safety and the Role of Professional Regulation

Types of Regulation

V. When Engineers Move Across Jurisdictions

A. Assessing and Addressing Regulatory Differences Across Borders

B. Engineering Activity and Scope of Competence

C. Mobility of Engineers in the United States

VI. Engineers’ Own Approaches: Mutual Recognition Agreements

A. Arrangements among European countries

B. Beyond Europe

C. Evaluating Mutual Recognition Initiatives in Engineering

D. Reasons Behind Slow Progress

VII. Conclusion: Assessing Barriers to Mobility