The advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 ushers in the full implementation of the various arrangements that would facilitate the free flow of services, one of five principal means to achieve the ASEAN goal of a single market and production base. Free flow of services means that there remain substantially no restrictions to ASEAN service suppliers to provide services and establish companies across national borders in the region, subject to domestic regulations.
One of these arrangements is the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Engineering Services (MRA) which effectively set into motion the recognition of professional engineering qualifications across national boundaries thereby foster the mobility of engineering professionals and facilitate the free flow of services by 2015.
Meanwhile that the ASEAN MRA is taking shape, some other bilateral and multilateral arrangements and frameworks have already been in operation somewhere in the world such as the APEC Engineer Register, Engineers Mobility Forum, the EUR-Ing, the ASEAN Engineering Register, among others. The common denominator of these frameworks and MRAs has been invariably the mobility of engineers across national borders. Hand in hand with these mobility arrangements are fora and accords, such as the Washington Accord, that seek to promote recognition of substantial equivalence of academic qualifications for entry into the practice of engineering.
In the above context, the next few years will be challenging years for the ASEAN engineer both in the national and regional fronts. As 2015 approaches, the ASEAN professional engineer and engineering service provider will continually be faced with the reality of impending, if not already extant, global competition in the trade in services even within his usual borders. This will definitely be creating pressures on the engineer to further his professional qualifications beyond those of simply meeting substantial equivalence and minimum registration requirements. Educational institutions will be hard pressed to rethink their educational strategies in view of the need to produce graduates with attributes that meet the standards for entry to practice. On the other hand, the opening of borders is expected to create more latitude and opportunities for those who shall come prepared and dare to venture beyond their comfort zones.