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Alberta introduces legislation to expand use of ‘software engineer’ title

by HR Law Canada

Alberta is set to broaden the eligibility criteria for the use of the title ‘software engineer’ in a bid to fuel the technology sector’s rapid expansion within the province.

The proposed amendments to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act were announced on November 6, 2023, aiming to bolster Alberta’s burgeoning tech industry, which is predicted to add $5 billion annually to the province’s GDP and 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

The legislative changes will allow a more flexible use of the title to attract top talent, according to the Alberta Technology and Innovation Strategy. Currently, the title is regulated by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), ensuring high standards of qualification.

Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney remarked on the commitment to nurturing the technology sector’s growth while upholding the safety and integrity standards of the profession in Alberta.

Since 2019, the number of tech companies in Alberta has surged from 1,238 to 2,800, with nearly 40 percent boasting revenues of over $1 million. The widespread use of the title ‘software engineer’ across Canada in job postings, often without requiring APEGA qualifications, has highlighted a disparity that the Alberta government is keen to address.

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation, emphasized the global nature of the industry, asserting that the legislative update will aid Alberta’s tech companies in competing within the international job marketplace.

The proposed amendments are set to include an exemption for the title ‘software engineer’, protect the title ‘professional engineer’ for registered professionals, and grant the minister authority to prescribe related titles for similar exemptions.

The initiative has garnered support from the tech industry, with leaders like Harish Consul of Ocgrow Ventures and Nicole Janssen of AltaML endorsing the changes as crucial for economic growth and competitive talent acquisition.

Cam Linke of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute and Benjamin Bergen of the Council of Canadian Innovators both praised the provincial efforts to eliminate barriers and create a fertile ground for tech talent, reinforcing Alberta’s commitment to advancing its innovation economy.

The role of APEGA remains pivotal, with the regulatory body maintaining its rigorous standards for those practicing engineering. The use of ‘software engineer’ will be broadened, but any work that involves the practice of engineering will continue to fall under APEGA’s stringent regulatory framework.

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