MPs told mutual recognition post-Brexit is crucial

Select Committee - Alan Vallance

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance told MPs that mutual recognition of qualifications is a crucial issue for the profession

RIBA Chief Executive Alan Vallance has stressed the importance to the profession of mutual recognition of qualifications post-Brexit in evidence to MPs looking at the impact that leaving the EU will have on the UK’s creative industries.

Vallance told the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this week that the RIBA had considerable engagement with government departments which are clearly listening to the concerns of the industry, though with little result so far given to the enormity of the task facing the government.

In a sign that MPs are becoming aware of the importance of mutual recognition for architects, as well as free movement, Committee Chair Damian Collins MP turned immediately to the issue of qualifications when inviting Vallance to give evidence.

The RIBA Chief Executive said that the UK profession was a huge importer of qualified architects, with one in four qualified architects working in the UK from the EU. One in three students are also from the EU.

At the same time the UK’s chartered practices are responsible for £500m of exports of professional services, 17% of which goes to the EU.

‘Our 37,000 members are registered under the EU Professional Qualifications Directive, so recognition of architects across the EU is a critically important topic’, he told the Committee.

Asked what the profession is looking for from government on Brexit, Vallance explained the main concerns were access to talent, providing certainty for EU nationals already working in the UK now, and mutual recognition of qualifications both across the EU and beyond.

He told MPs that there are things that the government and others could do now on the mutual recognition front beyond Europe, particularly in Canada and the US, where there are important short-term issues to consider.

Like other representatives giving evidence from the fashion, textiles and advertising industries, Vallance argued that access to foreign talent helped UK architecture to maintain its global standing.

‘Cultural diversity is hugely important, some practices have 60-70% of employees from outside the UK,’ he said.

Vallance pointed out that it takes seven years to train architects, raising the obvious question of what will happen if it suddenly becomes difficult to access this overseas talent. The transition period is therefore really important to consider, he warned.

Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA.

Posted on Thursday 20th April 2017