IT professionals may face mandatory Victorian registration

Work under supervision of someone who is Victoria’s IT and network engineers may face a future obligation of having to register themselves as professional courteousness of a law that approved state parliament this week.

The law in Victoria mimics a longstanding law in Queensland – and industry bodies like Engineers Australia are pushing other territories and states to follow with parallel laws of their own.

The Victorian law primarily targets engineers in structural, civil, electrical, mechanical and fire-safety domains, with the aim of vetting those working on key infrastructure projects.

Engineers in these domains will be mandatory to have their qualifications and experience appraised by a designated third-party to expand registration; to keep it they will have to pay fees and undertake a certain amount of professional progress.

Passage of the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 in Victoria currently rang alarm bells in some engineering forums as engineers tried to recognize whether or not they needed to be registered to work.

But the Victorian law also contains a catch-all for “any other suggested area of engineering” – and expansion of the registration scheme to other engineering domains is conclusively on the cards.

Engineers Australia is a follower of the Victorian law – and the eventual growth of its scope and uses.

Asked by journalist whether Engineers Australia could like to see telco, software engineers, network engineers, and other IT related engineers brought under directed professional registration, either in Victoria or nationally, Russell indicated that was the case.

In Queensland, “Information Technology and telecommunications” is one of 25 disciplines where engineers are mandatory to be registered – or to work under supervision from an engineer with Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) qualifications.

That means not every IT or telco engineer needs to be registered; only that the firm they work for has enough RPEQ engineers to oversee all work (as seems to be a common model).

As in Queensland, it is likely that the full list of professional domains impacted by the Victorian law will be published at some point by the central registration authority.

Dues to be paid

The Victorian law says that both an “application fee” and “registration fee” will have to be paid by engineers.

The fees to be charged haven’t been disclosed, but the state Parliamentary Budget Office put annual training costs at up to $6000 per engineer. (Engineers Australia refutes that, claiming training costs could range from “free” to $500 a year; it’s unclear what registration fees would be on top of that).

What makes an engineer

The criteria that will be used to register engineers is not specified in the Act.

Under the scheme, engineering graduates would not immediately qualify for registration.

“It is correct that graduates will not be able to be registered straight after university,” Russell told iTnews.

“This is appropriate as, in the normal course of an engineering degree, it usually takes at least three to five years of practical work experience to build on the academic training achieved at university before an individual should be measured a fully-formed professional engineer.”