17 May 2021
Much of the UK’s current framework for recognising professional qualifications derives from EU law.
This means that regulators must have routes to recognising professional qualifications from the European Economic Area (the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.
The Professional Qualifications Bill, which has now been put before Parliament, will tackle the problems workers with professional qualifications from outside these areas face when trying to get their qualifications recognised in the UK.
This can include higher application fees or, in some cases, there being no means to recognition at all.
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.”
The new laws will help meet the demands of individual professions in different parts of the UK, he went on, by identifying professions that will benefit from access to global talent.
The legislation will also support the UK’s ambitious international trade agenda, the Government has highlighted, by equipping regulators of professions with the tools to enter into recognition agreements with overseas regulators where they want to do so.
Across the UK there are over 160 professions regulated by law, by more than 50 regulators, plus a range of other professions regulated voluntarily.
The Bill will equip regulators to make agreements with counterparts in other countries. To support this, the Government has also published guidance to help regulators enter such agreements (available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/arrangements-for-the-recognition-of-professional-qualifications).
Helen Brand, 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 FTAs, particularly in relation to mobility and trade in services, issues that matter a great deal to our members.”
In 2020, UK exports of services were worth £267.1 billion, representing 46.2% of total UK exports.