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These questions are often asked, with some justification, particularly since registration is largely voluntary. In the era of  the  Engineering Profession of South Africa Act, 1990 it was more difficult to answer these questions because there was no compulsion for any engineering practitioner to be registered and be subject to a Code of Professional Conduct. There was a lack of political will on the part of the then Government to place a higher premium on public safety and health in engineering than free-market principles. The Competition Commission did not make things any easier for the engineering profession to justify reservation of work for registered persons who have at least been assessed as competent by their peers and who are professionally accountable for their professional behaviour.
It is, therefore, easier to answer the questions now than before. Why? Because reserving work constitutes a form of licensing, and without a license a person is prevented from earning a living! This is in itself sufficient motivation to register and not to ponder over  potential benefits registration can offer.
Looking only at the ECSA perspective for the moment, promotion of professionalism is achieved by setting and maintaining standards relating to education (Accreditation), practical training and professional development after formal education as indicated in the Policy Statements listed below, the Code of Professional Conduct and taking such other action as is necessary, at least, to ensure the maintenance of standards:
Every registered person who subscribes to the setting of standards, and the enforced maintenance thereof, should be registered with the AIPET. In so doing they not only make this fact known to the public but also make a statement to the effect that they are prepared to subject themselves to the scrutiny of their peers should they conduct themselves improperly. By registering, the hands of the statutory profession can further be strengthened in achieving its goals.
Financial gain or the achievement of status in themselves are merely by-products of registration and not the principal aims, however important to the majority of the practitioners.