UK Centre for Professional Qualifications: Powers

(asked on 14th June 2021) - View Source

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Professional Qualifications Bill, what additional powers are provided to staff of the assistance centre by placing it on a statutory footing.

Answered by
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
This question was answered on 21st June 2021

The assistance centre supports professionals with overseas qualifications intending to work in the UK, and UK qualified professionals seeking to practise overseas. Its website and telephone advice service help professionals identify the right regulators, which may not always be clear.

Some regulators are pursuing recognition arrangements with EU counterparts, and the Government is agreeing new trade deals with provisions on the recognition of professional qualifications. The assistance centre will be useful to UK professionals as they make use of these provisions to work or provide services overseas.

Finally, the assistance centre provides support and guidance to authorities responsible for regulating professions in the UK. Many authorities use the assistance centre as a source of information on international recognition agreements.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is responsible for making arrangements in relation to the assistance centre.

The current assistance centre, the UK Centre for Professional Qualifications, has 2.5 full time equivalent staff and is provided at a very modest cost. The exact terms of the contract for the service are commercially sensitive.

The UK had a National Contact Point for Professional Qualifications in 2007 when the legislation implementing the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC came into force. It was initially housed within government before a contract to run the service was awarded to ECCTIS Limited in December 2008.

The Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2013/55/EU changed the requirement from each EU Member State having a National Contact Point to having an assistance centre. When the implementing legislation for this Directive came into force, the UK National Contact Point for Professional Qualifications changed to the UK National Assistance Centre in January 2016. The requirement for the assistance centre was preserved in retained EU law at the end of the Transition Period.

Providing a statutory basis for the continued existence of an assistance centre in the Bill includes placing a duty on competent authorities to cooperate with it. This is to ensure that the assistance centre has the necessary information to help support the delivery of its functions, rather than relying on voluntary information sharing arrangements. The information shared by regulators with the assistance centre is limited in nature, so this is not an onerous duty for regulators.

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