Embracing Neurodiversity in Engineering: A path to professional registration

For Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we share details of the Engineering Council’s ‘Guidance Note on supporting neurodivergent applicants for registration’

 

Ben Jones is Product Manager at the Engineering Council. Carolyn Griffiths CEng FIMechE FREng is senior rail professional and Engineering Council Board member and Reasonable Adjustments Steering Group Chair. 

The professional registration process is experienced by many students in the years after their studies, many of whom may consider themselves as, or be diagnosed as, neurodivergent in some respect. The Engineering Council’s new Guidance Note on supporting neurodivergent applicants for registration aims to support the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) to embrace equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and accessibility, in particular in relation to applying for professional registration.

Signposting, both on organisation documentation and on their websites about a commitment to diverse, accessible and inclusive assessment for professional registration is a productive first step.  Identifying the support or adjustments which offer the applicant the best chance of demonstrating their competence and commitment is the second. Most fundamental is enabling a two-way dialogue with prospective applicants, as each applicant’s needs are unique and should be considered on an individual basis.

Effective signposting can be as simple as a check box labelled: “I would like to talk to someone about getting support or an adjustment for my application.”  Simply knowing what the intended process will be enables individuals to discuss whether an adjustment is available or feasible before beginning the application process. Starting dialogue as early as possible in the process enables reasonable adjustments to be requested to support neurodivergent applicants before and during the professional review process. These include:

  • Adjusting the way things are done, such as providing Standards, forms, guidance and holding the interview in an accessible way.
  • The removal of physical barriers; perhaps in relation to the rooms used before and during professional review interviews to make applicants feel welcome and relaxed.
  • Providing extra equipment, such as additional time for an interview or use of an interpreter.

Training for staff and volunteers can facilitate a greater understanding of neurodiversity and related neurodivergent traits and conditions, which in turn supports equality. The value of our networks can also be leveraged, for example through special interest groups and workshops for members or drawing on the expertise of those who have a background, training, or personal experience in supporting neurodiverse members. Neurodiversity champions can provide informal support and guidance about professional registration in general, and facilitators can guide applicants through the process of making an application, preparing for, and attending an interview.

The guidance was compiled in collaboration with practising engineers with lived experience of neurodivergent traits and conditions, and Licensee staff working on EDI and related topics. Further information is available under ‘Useful documents’ on the Engineering Council UK-SPEC page.

 

 

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