PERB Getting Tough on Quack Engineers


The Professional Engineers Registration Board (PERB) is taking steps to address the increasing number of non-engineers who are performing work, which should be carried out by qualified and experienced engineers.
As such persons or organizations found to be in breach of the Professional Engineers Registration Act are liable to be prosecuted.
To date there are over 400 individuals and 80 engineering organizations with the recognized accreditation, that are registered with the Professional Board in 12 of the 15 disciplines in which the Board registers engineers.
Transport and Works Minister, Robert Pickersgill, speaking at a seminar hosted by PERB to highlight “Why Engineers Should be Registered,” at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston this morning (April 15), noted that the move to educate and enforce regulations was a timely one.
“I am acutely aware that Jamaica’s construction and physical development occurs in a small island state environment, characterized by significant exposure to natural hazards,” Mr. Pickersgill said. In this, he noted that the concerns of PERB regarding the island’s vulnerability because of major infrastructural undertakings and the constant introduction of new technologies was one shared by the Government. “The Government is committed to the development of a strong construction sector that will promote and protect the best interests of the country and our people,” Minister Pickersgill told the gathering.
Continuing, he informed that the “Government (is aiming) to establish and maintain a register of all contractors and construction enterprises”, adding that it was “ultimately envisaged that the register will comprise a set of sub-directories for all contractors, sub-contractors, consultants, training and support providers. These sub-directories will be disaggregated in terms of identified capacity and performance criteria, in a manner that would enable the public sector to ‘prequalify’ firms for potential work opportunities.”
Commenting on the differing levels of efficiency and professionalism in the construction industry, he noted that these needed to be raised to ensure consistent and pervasive standards as this coupled with “the large number of unskilled workers accentuates the negative perception of the industry.”
Minister Pickersgill stressed that the training of more construction workers to the Master Craftsman’s level must become a Human Resource Development priority as the need for such skills was clearly “demonstrated by the fact that last year the bauxite/alumina industry had to bring in some 200 workers from abroad.”
Referring to the US$690 million-expansion project to commence at the Jamaica Alumina Company (JAMALCo) next year, the Minister said he was pleased to see that arrangements are already being put in place for the training of personnel to meet the demand for skills.
“We have to ensure that Jamaicans are able to take full advantage of such opportunities as will present themselves in the sector,” Minister Pickersgill emphasized, noting that in light of the implications of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy for the labour industry, strengthened capabilities and authorization became even more crucial.
PERB is currently engaged in the process of introducing regulations relating to: The Code of Professional Conduct, The Issue and Use of Seals as well as developing guidelines on “Limitations Relating to Engineering Works.” Additionally, PERB is also collaborating with the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) in efforts towards assuming full responsibility for the accreditation of tertiary level engineering programmes in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The group’s ultimate goal is that engineers registered in Jamaica and other Caribbean Commonwealth countries should be acceptable, under the Washington Accord for practice in the present signatory countries and such other countries that may become signatories of the Accord.
The construction industry contributes approximately 7.6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product, directly employing a labour force with a reported annual average of 81,500 persons in 2001. The sector also provides employment for a large number of low skilled workers.

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