Prakhar P. Shrivastava
SLS, P. Surv.
Land Surveying Profession – Do All Entry Gates Lead to the Same Auditorium?
I hope you all had a pleasant holiday season and have entered 2016 recharged and raring to go! Winter has been milder than usual and we had almost successfully dodged the much feared deep freeze. This one, it seems, may not last very long! I am looking forward to spring already…
As my term on Council is nearing its end, I have seen a recurring issue come up in our meetings – the education and registration for entry into the profession of land surveying. The Association of British Columbia Land Surveyors is proposing that a British Columbia Institute of Technology graduate be deemed to have satisfied requirements for registration as a Land Surveyor in Training. Manitoba Land Surveyors Association has proposed that one of the prerequisite courses for CBEPS – C3 be offered as an elective and not be required for the CBEPS’ Certificate of Completion. Ontario and Quebec Land Surveyors Associations have followed their own system of registration for quite a while now. These changes to the registration protocols pose a question with regards to the reciprocity arrangements, the impact on Labour Mobility, and the Agreement on Internal Trade.
Each provincial body participating in CBEPS has a responsibility to CBEPS, who are monitoring the minimum education requirement to become a Land Surveyor in Canada. Each provincial governing body also has a responsibility to look after their own interests in relation to training and education of new members. They are to ensure that the demands for professionals are met and public interest is served. However, by virtue of the terms of Labour Mobility, a candidate is not tested on his/her educational background; rather, he/she are assessed only on jurisdiction specific professional practice. A fellow Land Surveyor, regardless of the path he/she pursues to obtain his/her commission, has reached a specific level of education, is the implied understanding.
If a provincial body decides to alter the minimum requirement or move away from the Certificate of Completion issued by CBEPS, could we be heading towards a system where a land surveyor from one province could potentially have less academic prowess than another? Would we then be moving towards a scenario where one province’s land surveyor is favoured over another simply owing to the path he/she took to earn their commission, or based on the province where they received their first commission? Will this then lead to a situation where experienced land surveyors in the same jurisdiction feel “superior” to a newly commissioned land surveyor in that jurisdiction because they had it “easy”? This can be deemed counterintuitive to the principals of mutual reciprocity.
If each individual Association chooses to have specific educational requirements for registration, it could also make CBEPS redundant. Valuable skills and information that Land Surveyors ought to acquire would get lost forever. Our profession is unique in a way that it allows individuals to take different paths to become a Professional Land Surveyor; this stems from the universal education benchmark monitored by CBEPS. As the number of Land Surveyors is on the rise, and competition increases, it is important to ensure that each professional goes through a comparable evaluation process. We must aspire to instil knowledge and skills in Canadian surveyors in a way that will minimize the disparity among surveyors across different provinces. We must inspire a level of confidence in the industry about skills and knowledge of surveyors from across Canada being at par. After all, we are all professionals who have the unwavering responsibility to uphold public interest every step of the way.
One way to meet the demands of the profession is to collaborate with educational institutions in order to enable their graduates to earn CBEPS exemptions. This will facilitate the incorporation of a person’s experience into the registration process. Concurrently, this will ensure that emerging surveyors are achieving a specific level of competency. Another often neglected aspect is the recognition of foreign trained graduates into the land surveying profession. Many foreign trained professionals possess several years of international experience and technical skills. All they need is mentorship and local knowledge. With a little investment in their development, they can be nurtured into competent Land Surveyors. It is imperative that we draw our attention to both these areas, as we may be losing many valuable professionals due to the hindrances and challenges they endure.
We need to adopt a multifaceted and holistic approach towards credential assessment, leading to seamless professional mobility. Rather than focusing upon immediate gratification, we, as regulatory constituents should adopt an integrated approach and influence the profession nationally, where Professional Surveyors of Canada may serve as a central nodal hub.