Professional Qualifications Bill
The Professional Qualifications Bill, introduced to Parliament on 12 May 2021, will establish a regulatory framework for professional qualifications that meets the needs of the UK and supports UK professionals to deliver services overseas. It will also allow skilled professionals from around the world to have their qualifications recognised in the UK.
A regulated profession is one in which there are restrictions to pursuing the activities or a subset of activities of the profession, such as for doctors, and/or restrictions for using a professional title, such as the use of ‘architect’.
As of May 2021, much of the UK’s framework for recognising professional qualifications derived from EU law under the EU’s Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005 (MRPQ Directive). Following the UK’s exit from the EU, and the conclusion of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK was no longer bound by the MRPQ Directive. Consequently, UK regulators require their own routes to recognising professional qualifications from the European Economic Area (the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.
Workers with professional qualifications from outside these areas can face hurdles to getting their qualifications recognised in the UK. This can include higher application fees or, in some cases, no means to recognition at all.
An example would be if a regulator such as the Architects Registration Board agreed a mutual recognition agreement with international partners. This would support UK businesses and professionals to win and provide architecture services in new markets such as the Middle East or Asia by helping UK architects have their qualifications recognised.
 Meeting professional standards
The Government introduced this legislation so skilled professionals could have their qualifications recognised in the UK where they meet UK standards. Regulators will have the autonomy to assess qualifications and to pursue arrangements with counterparts in other countries in the interests of their professions.
An assistance centre will provide an enquiry service that will help businesses and professionals understand the steps they need to take to have their professional qualifications recognised in the UK and abroad.
Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Architects Registration Board (ARB), said, “The Professional Qualifications Bill is a really important step following the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK is a global leader in architecture and for ARB to have the power to form mutual recognition agreements with international regulators will enable us to assure the public that all registered architects are suitably qualified. It will also provide opportunities for UK architects to have their qualifications recognised internationally and to enable the global spread of skills, knowledge and innovation”.
The policy paper on the Professional Qualifications Bill was published on 12 May 2021. Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/recognition-of-professional-qualifications-and-regulation-of-professions-policy-statement
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