By Carter Hammett
Special to the Toronto Sun
The boundaries between various engineering disciplines are disappearing. Engineering is becoming multi-disciplinary and there is now far more emphasis on non-technical skills by employers. Nanotechnology and biotechnology are just two examples of relatively new fields. New disciplines in the field continue to evolve as more funding is invested in innovation and technology. This in turn creates new jobs and helps drive the economy.
| CHRIS CRAGG
The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) president and chair
While this process can be tricky to navigate, Ontario's engineers have a strong arm of support from their association, The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). In just five years, the OSPE has evolved from a small group jointly formed by The Canadian Society of Professional Engineers and Ontario's governing regulatory body, the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO), to a thriving, member-driven organization representing the professional and economic interests of engineers in a variety of disciplines.
"At OSPE, we are proud to be able to offer Ontario's engineers professional development courses and programs and a career centre that are second to none," says Chris Cragg, OSPE president and chair. "We care about the future of engineering in Ontario and offer quality courses and training to help engineers stay on top of their fields, remain competitive, and enhance their professionalism and knowledge wherever they are in their careers.
"We are becoming known as the one-stop shop for recruiting and retaining Ontario engineers, providing engineers and engineering employees with a variety of services," he adds.
Perhaps the most notable service provided to members is the career centre, which includes information networking workshops for employers and employees, flexible job-posting options at competitive prices, resume database mining, detailed salary and compensation information and recruitment events among its services.
"The career centre was first launched online in 2002. In December 2004, we exceeded 100 job postings by employers for the first time. We re-launched the career centre in February 2004 to provide more services and easier navigation. There are currently more than 3,000 employers in the employer directory; 1,800 posted jobs; and 2,500 posted resumes. We have an average of 60-80 open engineering-related jobs at any given time, and an average of more than 1,600 hits per day," Cragg says.
The association also provides a host of other services for its members, including advocacy and professional development opportunities. Earlier this year, OSPE co-hosted its first industry forum for Ontario's employers of engineers. More than 100 employers of engineers attended the successful event, which provided an opportunity for engineering employers across industry sectors to learn about the latest engineering employment data and trends, and the tools they would need to plan their hiring and compensation strategies for the coming years.
OSPE Career Centre Quick Facts|
Since Launch of Career Centre online (2002):
Total cumulative jobs posted (January to April 2002) = 199
Total applicant users = 1,751
Total number of registered employers = 209
Total resumes posted = 583
Average jobs posted = 50
Average site hits per day = 218
Since launch of Career Centre online 2005 updated stats below:
Total cumulative jobs posted (May 2002 to April 2005) = 1,781
Total applicant users = 6,804
Total number of registered employers = 3,026
Total resumes posted = 2,549
Average jobs posted = 60-80
Average site hits per day = 1,581
The OSPE is also a vocal advocate for the engineering profession as a whole, having had input into several recent pieces of provincial legislation. In response to a press release issued by OSPE and a letter sent to the premier asking the Ontario government to modernize the way it purchases engineering and design services, The Ontario Infrastructure Projects Corporation (OIPC) was established under the 2005 budget. OIPC will be an independent agency whose mandate will be to provide expertise and implement best business practices for all areas of infrastructure planning, financing, construction and management, with a focus on alternative financing and procurement (AFP) projects, Cragg says.
Additionally, the group has had a strong presence under The Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires a professional engineer certify that water systems comply with regulatory requirements. A professional engineer was also appointed CEO of the Ontario Power Authority after an OSPE submission to the Ministry of Energy during the formulation of last year's Electricity Restructuring Act. The group has had a vital presence in the development of a number of other pieces of legislation as well.
Engineering is a regulated profession. The PEO is responsible for testing, licensing, regulating and establishing standards for the 67,000 engineers in the province. In 2000, after years of discussion and referendums, the PEO decided to allow the formation of a new group which would take over professional development and advocacy activities for its members. Today, the OSPE has at least 12,000 members.
"Our staff is ready to answer questions or guide interested individuals who request information to various resources. We also offer courses for non-engineers and preparatory courses for PEO technical and Professional Practice and Ethics exams," Cragg says .
For more information, contact OSPE at: 4950 Yonge St., Suite 502, Toronto, Ont., M2N 6K1. Tel: 416-223-9961, toll free: 1-866-763-1654, or visit www.ospe.on.ca.
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