Professional Qualifications Directive
The modernised Professional Qualifications Directive, 2005/36/EC, came into effect in January 2014 with a two year transposition period ending in January 2016. This modernised Directive updates and amends the original 2005 Professional Qualifications Directive which superseded the 1985 ‘Architects Directive’. The purpose of the Directive is to govern the manner in which Member States recognise the qualifications and credentials of professionals from other Member States and thus to facilitate and increase professional mobility.
The development and growth of the Single Market is a key driver of this process. The Professional Qualifications Directive sets the minimum standard for architectural training and for recognition between EU Member States. The Directive standard has been recognised as the lowest common denominator since the advent of the 1985 Architects Directive. The ACE’s policy is to promote the internationally established standard (5 years study plus two years practical experience) as the minimum standard access to the architectural profession in Europe. Two Standards across Member States exceed the minimum, or lowest common denominator, set down in the Directive in a variety of ways and through various modes of regulation. Recognising and establishing how different approaches to regulation of the architectural profession achieve this goal, above and beyond the minimum terms set down in the Directive, is a current focus of the Working Group. In addition, the Working Group is currently reviewing and assessing the mechanisms in place at Member State level for the accreditation of courses prior to notification for inclusion in the Directive.
Traineeship (Professional Practice Experience)
Professional Practical Experience is critical to consumer protection and quality in the built environment. It is the bridge between the achievement of the graduate standard and having the expertise to apply that knowledge, skill and competence effectively. Professional Practical Experience equips the architectural graduate with the skills to function effectively in the practice environment dealing with contracts, regulations, finance, contractors, other professionals, site supervision, consumers and clients.
The practical professional skills that can only be delivered in a live practice environment are essential, especially in the presence of the variable approaches to regulation existing in EU Member States. The importance of CPD is increasingly being recognised at EU level but cannot replace mandatory Professional Practical Experience prior to establishment as a professional.
The majority of EU Member States have long required standards higher than the Minimum Standard set out in the Directive. Any race to the bottom in terms of standards, which can seem attractive in economically pressured times, is especially dangerous because it undermines consumer protection and confidence, hinders graduate and professional mobility and recognition on an international scale and negatively impacts on the markets for services within the Single Market.
Continuous Professional Development
The key focus of the Working group in the field of CPD is to further progress the ACE’s understanding of requirements relating to CPD in Member Organisations and their Home States in the context of the focus on CPD now established in the modernised Professional Qualifications Directive, and in the broader picture of professional and regulatory support mechanisms in Europe. CPD can extend and augment, but not replace, the initial dedication and training of the architect. Rapid developments in the construction sector, including technological, social and regulatory developments, require architects to engage actively and positively in Lifelong learning. An "ACE Quality Guide" has already been established.
The Executive Board of the ACE established this Work Group in order to deepen its reflection on competition and regulatory issues as they affect the architectural profession. The ACE strongly believes that the regulatory environment in which architecture is practised can have a profound effect on the quality of the built environment. ACE has worked for many years to ensure that the regulatory environment for architects is correctly and appropriately conceived in order to allow for quality results to emerge.
A particular focus for RQI in 2015 will be the possible de-regulatory impact of the Peer Review provided for in Article 59 (Transparency) of the new Professional Qualifications Directive and continuing de-regulatory pressures on member organisations in some countries. RQI intends to monitor such activity in order to inform the policy decisions of the ACE Board. The RQI work will also monitor the on-going evaluation of the Services in the Internal Market (SIM) Directive, in particular as regards article 15 (requirements to be evaluated), article 23 (insurance) and the voluntary convergence agenda.