Jobs For Software Engineers In Government Sector – Alberta’s engineering regulator is cracking down on the province’s tech sector by requiring anyone with the title “software engineer” to hold a license — and pay fees for that right.
The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) has asked a court to order one of the province’s leading software companies, Octopusapp Inc., known as Jobber, to stop using the term “engineer” in job titles and positions unless permission is received from the supervisory authority.
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This has caused turmoil in Alberta’s technology sector. On Friday, the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) published an open letter signed by CEOs of 32 Alberta tech companies, including Jobber’s Sam Pillar, asking Premier Daniel Smith to stop APEGA’s “overreach of regulation.”
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The letter said APEGA’s “aggressive stance” would lead to “burdensome, restrictive and unnecessary certification requirements” for developers and harm companies’ ability to compete for talent. “If we cannot compete effectively for the best employees while headquartered in Alberta, we must seriously consider whether this is a place where our companies can succeed,” said the letter, signed by Benevity Inc executives, ., Symend Inc ., Neo Financial Technologies Inc. . and other.
CCI president Benjamin Burgon said he hoped Smith, who promised to cut red tape while campaigning for the leader of the United Conservative Party, would take action “because it really is a red tape problem. It is the only jurisdiction in the world that insists on this. This makes Alberta uncompetitive in the technology sector.
A spokesman for Alberta Labor Minister Casey Madu said in an email that the government would work with the parties to resolve the issue, adding: “We are concerned about any regulations that hinder our competitiveness in the global skilled labor market.”
Erum Afsar, director of enforcement at APEGA, said in an interview: “What we are doing is regulating what the government has asked us to do. If you use this title, you must be registered with APEGA.
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APEGA and 11 other Canadian provincial and territorial engineering regulators have been complaining for years against companies or individuals using the titles “software engineer” and “computer engineer”, claiming they are prohibited from doing so. In July, Engineers Canada, which represents the regulators, issued a joint statement calling for individuals to be barred from using the offending titles unless they are licensed as engineers.
“Professional engineers adhere to high professional and ethical standards and work in the public interest,” it said. “The public has a high level of trust in the profession, and these levels of accountability and transparency help keep Canadians safe.”
Regulators are empowered to enforce their respective laws and have occasionally taken legal action to protect their turf. The Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec sued Microsoft in the early 2000s to stop it from calling graduates of its course “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer”. The Quebec Superior Court in 2005 upheld a lower court ruling against Microsoft that included a $1,000 fine. In 2019, the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta ordered an injunction request by APEGA against an individual for using the title “software engineer”, awarding the association costs.
“We’ve always had concerns about people calling themselves ‘software engineers,'” said Engineers Canada executive director Gerard McDonald. “Once regulators are aware of that, it’s something they will take enforcement action against.” He said governing bodies for doctors and lawyers would also not tolerate uncertified practitioners calling themselves those titles.
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Afsar said APEGA closes about 500 cases a year as a result of complaints about misuse of the term “engineer”; only two involving the information technology sector are before the courts, including the Jobber case.
Engineers come in a variety of forms, including aerospace, chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical. Some build bridges, rockets, cars or dams. They are usually licensed.
But coding “engineers” typically don’t seek or require industry accreditation. American developer Margaret Hamilton is widely credited with coining the term “software engineer” after working on onboard flight software for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Apollo program in the 1960s. She said the team’s work should be taken as seriously as other engineering and science disciplines. Many agreed. “The term ‘engineer’ has been used in software for decades,” said Dax Dasilva, executive chairman of Lightspeed Commerce Inc. in Montreal. “I don’t think that more regulation around terminology is suddenly necessary.”
Further complicating matters: “software engineer” is officially recognized by the federal National Occupational Classification System as a job title.
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Provincial and territorial laws governing engineers differ. Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act states that no individual, corporation or partnership may use the word “engineer” in a job title unless they are “a professional engineer, licensee or holder of a permit entitled to practice engineering”.
APEGA is going after Edmonton-based Jobber in late 2021. In an application filed with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the regulator said Jobber — which sells software to home-based entrepreneurs to run their businesses and hires software engineers — has no right to call them that or “to hold out or represent himself as having the right to practice engineering in Alberta” because he is not a member of the Society.
APEGA fees per company are $500 times the square root of the number of engineers on staff; for example, a company with 100 engineers pays $5,000. “This is not about getting money,” McDonald said. “It’s about calling yourself something you’re not.”
APEGA said in court documents that it tried to convince Jobber to “come into compliance” by applying for a permit; Jobber said you don’t need it. “There are no circumstances that would justify denying this application because of the risk to the public that the defendant will assert or represent itself as having the right to engage in the practice of engineering without a permit to do so,” the complaint states.
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Pillar said the principle behind the complaint was “short-sighted” as “software engineer” was a standard job title globally and if Jobber could not advertise jobs with that description, it would lose out to US tech giants that use those terms in their jobs. lookup. Indeed.com currently hosts software job postings for Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce in Western Canada with “engineer” in the titles.
Pilar said there was little risk of “someone getting it wrong” and believed his engineers were qualified to build bridges. “We do not call our employees Certified Professional Engineers or P. Engs. That would be absurd. We just use common terminology that everyone uses” in software. Stay ahead of the curve with news We’re talking about leveling up, advancing your career and excelling where you are right now.
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