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The IMCA Competence Suite of Documents

In this, the fifth article in the “Understanding Competence” series, we will briefly look at the IMCA documents relating to the competence process.

IMCA have created and maintain a list of competence related documents.

The main Competence documents, covering our 4 main technical divisions are as follows:

  • IMCA C002 “Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment – Marine Division”
  • IMCA C003 “Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment – Dive Division”
  • IMCA C004 “Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment – Survey Division”
  • IMCA C005 “Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment – ROV Division”

There is also an associated document, IMCA C017 “Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment – Marine Roles for Small Workboats”.

Inside the IMCA Main Competence Documents

The 4 main technical division documents, IMCA C002 to C005, deal with competence assurance and assessment.

The guidance framework documents:

  • Specify minimum standards for qualifications and experience
  • Specify a competence framework
  • Provide a reference document detailing procedure, criteria and recording of competence.

Competence Assurance

IMCA’s competence assurance and assessment guidance offers a range of criteria including academic and vocational qualifications, demonstrable experience, technical skills, medical certification, and appropriate training.

Competence assurance is the process of collecting the results of competence assessments and ensuring that these are consistent and auditable through internal and/or external verification.

Competence Assessment

Competence assessment is the process of collecting evidence of an individual’s performance, knowledge and attitude and reviewing this against specified competences.

Core” or Common Competences

Certain ‘core’ competences are considered essential to all personnel working at any level in the energy industry and, as such, may be considered common to all job functions. These are: safety awareness; emergency situations; communication and interpersonal skills; and work-related activities. Knowledge and demonstrable skill levels in these competences will also vary with a person’s seniority and level of operational responsibility.

For example Competence R/R01/000/01 requires that an ROV Supervisor is able to lead safety briefings whereas an ROV Superintendent, being more senior, under R/R20/000/01 would be expected to prepare for, and carry out, emergency procedures. 

“Key” Competences

For each job function there may be additional job-specific competences. These may be considered as key competencies and central to the job involved. To assess these competencies, assessors apply specified criteria to determine whether a person has the required knowledge and can demonstrate their ability to complete the task. It is essential that an assessor undertakes to determine the level of competence of a candidate under the full range of circumstances which the candidate may be expected to face. Whilst in normal operations a candidate may appear to demonstrate the required competence for that role, an assessor should introduce other realistic and relevant measures to the process in order to ensure the full operating range of the role is assessed in an objective manner.

Key Competencies are job specific and needed to perform the role safely and effectively. For example Competence R/R03/000/06 requires that an ROV Pilot Technician  Grade 1, understands the use of navigation aids to assist in flying the ROV.

Unique identifier code

Every competence element carries a unique identifier or code (see below) which can be used in the IMCA Record of Competence by assessors when they ‘sign off’ the achievement of a specified competence.

for example:

In some cases, specific training courses may be recommended or considered essential for the achievement of certain competences. Likewise, in other cases e.g., diving supervision, there are minimum work experience requirements to be logged before competence can be assessed or recorded.

IMCA Assessor and Verifier Training Guidance

IMCA offers guidance on Assessor and Verifier training:

  • IMCA C007 “Guidance on Assessor Training”
  • IMCA C016 “Guidance on Verifier Training”.

These documents discuss and detail the requirements necessary to provide quality assurance and confidence, in the assessment and verification processes, and procedures which should be followed by employees who are qualified and assigned to the Assessor and Verifier roles.

The Assessor role

The assessor should be a supervisor or manager, or other person approved by the company, with the necessary professional qualification, knowledge, and experience to be able to judge the competence being assessed. In some fields, competence to carry out assessments may require specific statutory qualifications (e.g., medical first aid assessments).

Some organisations employ or engage with specialist personnel such as training specialists or third party assessors. The advice offered within this document focuses on the role and training requirements of all assessors.

The Verifier Role

Assessment should be supported by verification of the assessment of the individual’s competence; the role of the verifier is to check or verify assessments that have been completed offshore, and a verifier should be used as part of a company’s in-house audit arrangements. The verifier should be a supervisor or manager, or other person approved by the company with the appropriate qualification and/or knowledge and experience to be able to review the assessments being verified. Verifiers may be on board the vessel or ashore in the company offices. Any verification procedure should be carried out by a recognised verifier.

To afford a level of auditable credibility it is important that the verifier is a different person from the assessor on each occasion. Quality control is undertaken by checking the assessment and ensuring compliance with the required criteria. Quality assurance is undertaken by checking that the way the final assessment was conducted was itself authentic and correct.

Freelance E-portfolio scheme

Two of our most recent competence related publication are the Freelance e-portfolio competence schemes for Survey and ROV. Both schemes are designed to provide freelance contractors access to a comprehensive competence scheme which is a portable and simple means of a freelance individual to compile and maintain their own competence records.

Many individuals operate as independent contractors employed, on a short term, ad-hoc basis by various contracting companies and agencies. Where an individual is not part of a company competence scheme, or not well-known to the contracting company or agency, it can be difficult to assess appropriate competence levels. The IMCA freelance e portfolio scheme aims to address this difficulty by providing access to the scheme which allows:

  • The individual to own, control and maintain their own competence record
  • A competence record which is readily portable between different companies
  • A common standard for freelance individuals
  • Contracting company or agency to readily assess the suitability of an applicant.  

The suite of documents associated with the freelance e portfolio documents are available online for download from the IMCA website at  Freelance-portfolio and include:

  • An introductory document, explain how to use the scheme
  • An Excel competence spreadsheet for Offshore Survey
  • An Excel competence spreadsheet for Remote Systems and ROV
  • Observation record template (completed example available)
  • Questioning record template (completed example available)
  • Witness testimony template (completed example available)
  • Candidate testimony template (completed example available).    

IMCA Logbooks and Competence Records

IMCA offer a range of logbooks and competence records for various disciplines.

The IMCA Record of Competence covers personal details, qualifications, certificates, training, specialist experience and details of all competence assessments.

Examples of IMCA logbooks:

  • Crane operator’s logbook
  • Diving inspection personnel logbook
  • Diving supervisor’s logbook
  • Diving technician’s logbook
  • Dynamic positioning (DP) logbook
  • Life support technician’s logbook
  • Offshore mariner’s logbook
  • Professional diver’s logbook
  • ROV personnel logbook
  • Survey personnel logbook
  • Workboat crew logbook

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