Draft legislation is going through parliament to allow highly skilled workers from around the world to have their professional qualifications recognised in the UK
The Professional Qualifications Bill will give regulators, including those in devolved administrations, autonomy to determine professional standards and assess who meets these standards, and allows regulators to license highly skilled professionals from around the world, enabling them to practise in the UK in line with skills needs.
The government expects the Bill to allow employers to fill skills gaps when required, by recognising equivalent professional qualifications in the UK.
Much of the UK’s current framework for recognising professional qualifications derives from EU law. Currently, regulators must have 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.
Now the UK has taken back control of its laws from the EU, the government is introducing new legislation so skilled professionals can 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 example would be if a regulator like 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 overseas.
The Bill gives devolved administrations powers to equip their regulators with the ability to enter into arrangements with international partners. This will help all parts of the UK to take advantage of the UK’s global trading status.
The new laws will help meet the demands of individual professions in different parts of the UK by identifying professions that will benefit from access to global talent. Identifying where there is demand for skills from overseas will be for the UK government and devolved administrations to decide and legislate for.
The Professional Qualifications Bill, introduced to Parliament, will establish an effective regulatory framework for professional qualifications that meets the needs of all parts of the country and supports UK professionals to deliver services overseas.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘Having left the European Union, this vital piece of legislation will ensure skilled professionals from around the world are able to have their qualifications recognised in the UK, allowing us to attract the brightest and best as we build back better.
‘These laws will not only bolster the UK’s standing as a great place to work and trade, but will strengthen our Union by creating a clearer framework for recognising professional qualifications that meets the skills needs of each part of the UK.’
The draft legislation will provide a gateway for accountants and tax experts to work in the UK and overseas, with countries where the government agrees cross recognition of qualifications.
Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said: ‘This Bill will be very helpful in facilitating recognition of professional qualifications and trade in professional services. This is therefore a much welcome development as a catalyst to future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), particularly in relation to mobility and trade in services, issues that matter a great deal to our members.’