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Why use a competence scheme?

In the last C&T article we considered “What is competence?” and “What does it mean to be competent?” We established that there are several components to competence which need to be gained through formal education, skills training, other learning (hobbies etc.), practice and repetition:

  • Knowledge.
  • Skill.
  • Ability.
  • Experience.

We also showed that, to be meaningful and valuable, competence requires:

  • An assessment process, to measure an individual’s competence against established criteria for the current seniority level.
  • Documentation to support and fully record the process and any outcomes or recommendations from the assessment.
  • A verification process, to confirm that the assessment process has been carried correctly and in a standardized form for all candidates.
  • Establishing a reasonable time period during which the assessment remains valid before further assessment is required.

Competence Scheme

As with many other work-related processes, creating a logical and well-organised set of procedures will greatly assist in the administration and control of the all the elements of a work force competence scheme.

The benefits gained from a work force competence scheme are:

  • Many activities require, by law, that appropriate training and assessment of competence, in particular tasks are undertaken.
  • A standardised approach to competence across the work force
  • A competence framework is developed for each trade specialisation within the business
  • Each specialisation competence framework identifies the individual task competence activities necessary for assessment to carry out work in that trade safely and effectively.
  • Required core competencies, common across all specialisations are identified
  • Additional competencies, for more senior levels are established
  • Company training and technical requirements for Assessors and Verifiers are established
  • Suitable Assessors and Verifiers identified and nominated
  • Suitable Assessor and Verifier processes established
  • Appropriate monitoring and recording documentation established
  • An objective workplace assessment mechanism allows companies to evaluate training needs rather than applying an expensive scatter-gun approach.
  • Competence Frameworks provide a transparent structure for all levels of personnel included and as such can support Career Development and Succession Planning processes.
  • Workplace based competence assessments allow for a structured technical ability focused conversation between the Assessor and the Candidate which otherwise may not occur.

In summary, a standardised approach to competence is necessary to ensure that all candidates within the competence scheme are treated equally and in the same manner.

Some activities, such as flying an airplane, driving a vehicle, installing and maintaining gas and electrical system appliances and installations, legally require that an individual undergoes appropriate training, assessment and certification, prior to engaging in those tasks. These requirements may include the need for require regular performance checks.

Some competencies, such as communications, management and HSE are common or “core” to all frameworks. The depth of knowledge being assessed will increase as the seniority level increases.

Task specific competencies relate exclusively to the trade specialisation and the knowledge being assessed will increase with seniority within the specialisation.

The company needs to determine the specific requirements for Assessors, such as experience, training and certification. An Assessor must be experienced and senior in the competencies being assessed and may be required to undergo specific Assessor training. This training may be internal or external dependent on the company processes.

The specific requirements for Verifiers need to be established. A Verifier is not required to be experienced in the competencies being assessed but should be a senior level and may be required to undergo Verifier training. This training may be internal or external dependent on the company processes.

The use of such a competence scheme helps to ensure that all competence tasks have been carried out, and assessed, in a standardised manner and that all candidates are treated equally and fairly without discrimination of favour.

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