Op-ed: A False Solution for Our Workforce Challenges
Workforce shortages, talent pipelines at a trickle and expensive labor are all-too-familiar challenges facing businesses and the public sector. In an attempt to tackle these problems, there is a growing trend of exploring the weakening or elimination of certain key job requirements. These proposals include getting rid of college degree requirements without equivalency alternatives, doing away with requisite testing, and downgrading credentials and licensure for professionals.
To be sure, there are some elements of the occupational licensure process that require continuous improvement and elimination of impediments disparately impacting underrepresented groups. However, in the rush to address workforce challenges, legislators and other policymakers must be cautious not to create new problems that leave employers and the public at risk.
Weakening professional licensing requirements is a false solution to various workforce ills. Minimum qualifications ensured by licensing exist to protect employers and the public they serve. This is particularly important for technical professions with high public impact, such as architecture, certified public accountancy, engineering, landscape architecture and land surveying. Care must be taken to ensure that critical licensing systems for such professions, designed to ensure public and economic protection, are not compromised and swept up in broad-brush calls for occupational licensing reform.
It is not just the public that depends on the qualifications assured by licensing; businesses do too, both as employers and recipients of services. Arguments to eliminate or weaken licensing often assume that it is a solution that benefits businesses. However, the reality is much more complicated. Proposals to weaken or do away with professional licensing can create new problems by eliminating critical systems and safeguards that help businesses succeed, with ramifications for financial support, insurance costs and consumer confidence.
A recent study conducted on behalf of the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing found that businesses unequivocally value licensing and the trust in qualifications that it conveys, even in today’s challenging labor environment. A significant percentage of businesses rely on licensing to make informed hiring choices, and absent licensing they would have less confidence in the competence of professionals. Fully 92 percent of businesses agreed that licensing plays a crucial role in accurately assessing qualifications and making confident hiring decisions; 85 percent said they would have less confidence in the competence of professionals if licensing were downgraded.
The importance of licensing goes beyond helping employers hire with confidence; it is intertwined with the overall success of businesses. Eliminating or weakening licensing for high-impact, high-consequence professions can have far-reaching unintended consequences. Employers understand and are rightly concerned about the risks associated with such a move. These risks include a potential decline in the quality of services, increased liability and reputational damage.
In the rush to address workforce challenges and assess the role of government and regulation in today’s society, it is crucial that lawmakers carefully consider the potential impact of anti-licensing proposals. While it may be tempting to eliminate or weaken licensing requirements, it is important to recognize the value they bring to both the public and businesses. Instead of creating new problems, we challenge policymakers to endorse innovative solutions that better address workforce shortages while maintaining the necessary safeguards provided by professional licensing. This is the art of governing.
Michael Armstrong is the chief executive officer of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Marta Zaniewski is executive director of the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing and vice president for state regulatory and legislative affairs at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Op-ed published in Governing.com:read more
Businesses Support Professional Licensing
The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing commissioned Benenson Strategy Group to survey 600 decision-makers for small- and mid-size businesses about the impact of professional licensing on their businesses. The results were clear: businesses overwhelmingly support responsible licensing standards.
U.S. BUSINESSES IN AGREEMENT: LOWERING LICENSING STANDARDS RAISES BUSINESS RISK
U.S. BUSINESSES IN AGREEMENT:
LOWERING LICENSING STANDARDS RAISES BUSINESS RISK
92% of business decision-makers emphasize importance of responsible professional licensing standards for complex, technical professions
Washington, D.C. – The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL)—a national coalition of responsible licensing advocates—today released new research findings that show businesses are concerned about the weakening of licensing standards and the resulting rise in business risk.
In recent years, several states and state governments have considered the weakening or elimination of licensing requirements to alleviate workforce challenges. While the proposals are often labeled as “pro-business”, new research finds that many businesses have reservations. They express strong concern that the proposals will create business challenges and even increase public exposure to harm.
- 85% would have less confidence in the competence of professionals.
- 84% would be concerned about increased public exposure to physical and financial risks.
- 84% would worry about hiring unqualified professionals that would jeopardize their reputation.
The research also finds that businesses value licensing standards and consider them critical for identifying and hiring qualified professionals, building a strong reputation, and keeping the public safe.
“Licensing is essential to ensure that businesses can identify qualified and competent professionals,” said Marta Zaniewski, ARPL Executive Director. “It provides a critical assurance of skills and expertise, which is vital for businesses operating in highly complex and technical fields.”
- 90% agreed that licensing protects and enhances their business reputation.
- 92% agreed that licensing plays a crucial role in accurately assessing qualifications and making confident hiring decisions.
- 92% agreed that licensing ensures professionals meet continuing education standards.
“Professional licensing has long been considered a safeguard for customers,” Zaniewski emphasized. “This new research underscores that it is a safeguard for businesses as well. Eliminating or weakening licensing requirements is not an effective solution for businesses or the public they serve.”
About ARPL: The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL) is a unique coalition that brings together professional organizations and their licensing boards at a time when there is significant concern over the appropriate level of licensing required by law. The coalition was formed to ensure their voices are heard by policymakers and the public amid the growing debate around licensing. You can learn more about the Alliance and the importance of professional licensing at responsiblelicensing.org.
Members of ARPL include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
Methodology: Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) conducted online interviews with 600 decision-makers for small and medium-sized businesses nationally from February 10th to February 26th, 2023. The margin of error is 5.74% for decision-makers at firms that provide complex, highly technical services (e.g., accounting, engineering, architectural, landscape architectural and surveying firms), and 5.58% for decision-makers at companies that rely on firms that provide complex, highly technical services. BSG is a strategic research consultancy that specializes in opinion research, messaging, and strategy for leading political, corporate, and advocacy clients.
Universal Licensing: A Closer Look
Experts weigh in on the concept of universal licensing, which proposes that a license obtained in one jurisdiction should be valid in any other jurisdiction. While it may seem like a good idea on the surface, the implementation of this policy is complicated and could compromise public protection. State lawmakers should carefully consider the impact of universal licensing before implementing it.read more
Interstate Practice: Common Pitfalls & How To Get It Right
Interstate practice refers to the ability of professionals to practice across state lines. In this video, licensing experts share examples of how states can responsibly accomplish flexibility and mobility. Lawmakers should consider this guidance as they work to achieve interstate practice for a broader mix of professions and occupations.read more
The “Three E’s” Explained
The Three E’s – Education, Experience, and Examination – form the bedrock of professional licensing in the United States. These three essential components ensure practitioners possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to protect the public and the environment.read more
The Problem With Anti-Licensing
Anti-licensing is a misguided effort that undermines the vital role of licensing in safeguarding public welfare. This explainer video covers the misconceptions, risks, and potential harm associated with anti-licensing.read more
Podcast: Why Contractors Should Care About Licensing
Michael J. Armstrong, CEO of NCARB, joins the Art of Construction podcast: Why Contractors Should Care About Licensing.
Listen as Michael explains why contractors should care about the licensing of the architects and engineers they work with, the unintended consequences for the construction industry if architects’ license was weakened or eliminated, the relationship between licensing and winning projects, securing loans, and affording liability insurance, and how contractors and affiliates can join ARPL’s fight for Responsible Professional Licensing.read more
Op-ed: The Case for Responsible Professional Licensing
Let’s start by saying the quiet part out loud: There are differences between us. We represent different political parties in the Illinois House of Representatives. We live in different parts of our state. But in these polarized times, we think it is important to look deeper and notice our similarities.
As legislators, we both seek to create new opportunities for hard-working families and help the Land of Lincoln get ahead. And as two certified public accountants, we know our profession plays a vital role in upholding the integrity of our country’s financial system. This is why we both believe that rigorous licensing for professions with high public impact like ours is critical to the public’s physical and financial well-being.
Across the country, lawmakers are looking for ways to boost state economies and ease the pressures of inflation. Overly broad licensing “reform” has emerged as a popular proposal, with special-interest groups casting it as a silver bullet to solve statewide workforce and economic development challenges. These bills aim to weaken, and sometimes outright eliminate, licensing requirements across state lines. Some of these lowlights would make it possible for almost anyone to enter into a state practice, regardless of whether they meet minimum professional qualifications. Other proposals relating to licensing include so-called “consumer beware” bills that would leave costly litigation and bad customer reviews as the only options for redress after harm has occurred.
These misguided proposals jeopardize the public and disadvantage hardworking professionals, especially those who have served the public well for decades and whose qualifications will be effectively nullified if passed into law. There is a much better way to approach licensing reform.
Through our work in the Illinois General Assembly, we have played a role in crafting and passing licensing reform. Licensure is complex, and if led down the wrong path, even well-intended elected officials can cause more harm than good. Poorly conceived licensing bills threaten existing systems that work and serve the public and the business community well.
The truth is that many licensure models already address the most common concerns around licensure, including mobility, minimum qualifications, examination and military spousal relocation. Like other states, Illinois has embarked on a heightened review of occupational and professional licensing. As is often the case with complex legislation, the devil lives in the details — or lack thereof.
Unlike some proposals under consideration in our region of the country, Illinois’ laws do not diminish rigorous qualifications for highly complex, technical professions such as certified public accounting, engineering, architecture, surveying and landscape architecture.
In one extreme case, another state’s proposed law would have eliminated the ability to change examination requirements to reflect changes in codes, standards and the evolution of the profession. Other proposals would damage existing models that have served residents of those states well.
Fortunately, Illinois chose a different route. Our laws carefully identified and lowered barriers in licensing systems for specific occupations that could either prevent or make it difficult for re-entry and low-wage workers.
In 2021, for example, we both voted in favor of H.B. 5576, a “sunset review” bill enacted to require Illinois to collect data on all licensed professions and occupations and determine whether those requirements should be modified. It should be viewed as a framework for the nation on how state policymakers can eschew burdensome legislation to introduce balanced, rational and methodical approaches to reform the regulatory process.
Bills such as H.B. 5576 do not diminish the need for occupational and professional licensing, but they do relay a clear statement that a broad-brush, one-size-fits-all approach to reform is not in the best interest of the public or licensed professionals.
Unfortunately, we must acknowledge the trend of other states that are heading down the wrong path and avoiding common-sense solutions. We caution lawmakers to not rush down a path, paved by hardliners whose flawed proposals create new problems for constituents and do not take into account the public perception of licensure as necessary and beneficial. Public opinion data shows us that voters, regardless of gender, race, income or job role, recognize the value of uniform licensing requirements for professions like ours with high public impact.
Constituents are best served through smart policy that leads to meaningful improvements in licensing systems that benefit licensed professionals and the public we all serve. Despite our differences, we are united to convey how important it is for lawmakers to get licensing reform right and look toward proven models that have served the public well.
Amy Elik is a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives. Natalie Manley is a Democratic member of the Illinois House. Both are certified public accountants.
Op-ed published in Governing.com:read more
Louisiana Voters Concerned About Anti-Licensing Effort
Louisiana Voters Concerned About Anti-Licensing Effort
New Survey Finds Strong Bipartisan Support for Maintaining Rigorous Professional Licensing Standards
BATON ROUGE – The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL) today announced the results of a survey of Louisiana voters showing they are deeply concerned about anti-licensing proposals being discussed in Baton Rouge during this legislative session. The results also showed widespread public support for maintaining rigorous professional licensing standards for professions that have a clear impact on public health, safety, and welfare.
“An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Louisiana voters want to protect rigorous professional licensure because it is the best way to safeguard the public’s physical and financial well-being,” said Ron Gitz, Executive Director of the Society of Louisiana CPAs. “Lawmakers in Baton Rouge may wish to consider the views of their constituents as they look at lessening professional licensing requirements.”
The bills look to lessen state licensing requirements for professions and occupations in Louisiana. Some bill provisions would mandate that licensing can only be required after public harm has occurred. They would also do away with minimum qualifications for professionals hired to construct public buildings, bridges, financial systems, and other public infrastructures. Proposals also encourage individuals to file lawsuits if they believe there are too many requirements to practice an occupation or profession.
The survey yielded these findings of Louisianans’ views on the role and value of licensing:
- 91% of Louisiana voters believe it is important that licensing systems keep consumers and the public safe by establishing standards for professions that impact public health and safety.
- 91% of Louisiana voters believe it is important that licensing systems ensure that competent, qualified professionals are servicing the public.
- 90% of Louisiana voters say licensing is important to them because it helps consumers identify qualified professionals and access information about the professionals they hire.
- 89% of Louisiana voters would be “concerned” if Louisiana eliminated minimum qualifications for engineers, architects, landscape architects, surveyors, and CPAs – including 77% of the public who would be “very concerned” if such legislation passed.
The survey also found significant concern on the part of voters about the downstream effects of weakening or eliminating licensing:
- Two-thirds of voters (65 percent) oppose legislation filed in Louisiana that would eliminate professional licensing requirements – and the public assurances they provide – and would mandate that licensing can only be required after public harm has occurred in Louisiana.
- A majority of voters (54 percent) say it is a “bad idea” to encourage individuals to file lawsuits if they believe there are too many requirements to practice an occupation or profession, which is exactly what the proposed legislation would do.
- A majority of voters (55 percent) believe that eliminating licensing would make it harder for Louisiana businesses to know if their employees are qualified, putting them at greater risk and liability for bad work performed by unqualified employees.
- Two-thirds of voters (64 percent) believe that eliminating minimum qualifications assured through licensing would put consumers at greater risk of harm from unqualified practitioners in Louisiana.
“Louisiana voters recognize that rigorous professional licensure is the most effective way to protect the public’s overall health, safety, and welfare,” said David Cox, CEO of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). “The ideas being talked about in Baton Rouge will harm Louisiana businesses and erode consumer confidence in professions with high public impact. Allowing a flood of confusing, costly new lawsuits is a poor substitute for smart, established professional licensure. Voters understand this and are wary when they hear about such proposals.”
Access the survey’s key findings and executive summary here.
ARPL is a unique coalition that brings together professional organizations and their licensing boards at a time when there is significant concern over the appropriate level of licensing required by law. The coalition was formed to ensure their voices are heard by policymakers and the public amid the growing debate around licensing. You can learn more about the Alliance and the importance of professional licensing at www.responsiblelicensing.org.
ARPL members include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
Advantage, Inc. surveyed 600 Louisiana voters from March 23 to March 28, 2022
For ARPL media inquiries, please contact Joe Sangiorgio by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-202-550-2709