The Qualification Panel for the Pipeline Industry
The Qualification Process
Who We Are
Staff competence is essential: pipeline standards and regulations require all staff working on pipelines to be both competent and qualified. The Qualification Panel for the Pipeline Industry is an independent panel of experts in the pipeline industry, who can help companies and individuals show that their staff are competent and qualified to work on pipeline. The Panel sets competency standards for pipeline engineers, advise on how engineers can gain and maintain these standards, and will certify engineers who meet our standards. This verification of competence:
- is tangible evidence of compliance with industry standards and regulations;
- inspires confidence in workers, managers, customers, the general public, and regulators;
- helps staff with career development;
- helps with recruitment (replacing interviews based on CV-evidence with competency-based evidence);
- can be used in an organization’s personnel appraisal process; and,
- can be used as a quantitative basis for training requirements.
QPPI can certify that you are competent in the tasks you perform. We will assess your training, education, and experience against a specified competence. We will appoint subject matter experts to assess you, and notify you of the results of the assessment. When you pass the assessment, we then certify you in that competence.
Why You Need Competent Staff
[Staff must be] qualified, trained and experienced to perform the required duties.
[There is need to improve the] minimum professional qualification criteria for all personnel.
Each operator is responsible for assuring that the individuals it may rely on as [subject matter of experts, SMEs] have an appropriate level of expertise and experience to fulfil their function… [Office of Pipeline Safety] inspections may include examination of the qualification of SMEs.
The Qualification Panel meets twice a year, to set standards, and certify engineers. The Panel membership is reviewed every three years.
Assessment Against a Competency Standard
The first step is to assess your competence against a competency standard.
‘Competence’ is a combination of practical and thinking skills, knowledge, and experience. Competencies also include values and behaviours. Standards expect engineers working in the pipeline industry to be both competent and qualified; for example, ASME B31.8S:
The personnel involved in the integrity management program shall be competent, aware of the program and all of its activities, and be qualified to execute the activities within the program. Documentation of such competence, awareness, and qualification, and the processes for their achievement, shall be part of the quality control plan.
Competencies of a job holder need to be assessed against a defined standard to ensure validation. ‘Competency standards’ provide a common definition of a competency, with its minimum requirements. These standards are used to assess the competence of personnel, and there are many examples in the literature, many produced by standards bodies and trade organisations. The standards are an integral part of the process to qualify and certify personnel as being competent: this is an important process, as standards and regulations all over the world explicitly require personnel to be both competent and qualified to work on pipelines.
QPPI can provide you with these standards, and we can assess you against these standards. Examples are given in Examples of Competency Standards..
Competence is demonstrated through assessment. First, the assessment will require you to provide evidence of your competency, achievements, and qualifications. This evidence is essential, and should be tangible (e.g., examination results, or references), rather than intangibles only (e.g., self-assessment), and be independently verified. Where evidence is not sufficient, the individual will require a formal assessment. The assessment should be conducted by comparing the required outcomes, skills, knowledge, training and experience in a relevant competency standard, with those possessed by the individual.
The assessment should be conducted by a suitably qualified, and independent body (‘Assessment Body’). This body is often the company employing the individual, or it can be a third party. The QPPI can act as an Assessment Body or direct you to one.
The Assessment Body will check your evidence of competency, and where this evidence is incomplete or insufficient, should advise on how you can become competent. On completion of the recommended work program, and after assessment by the body, you will be awarded a qualification in that competency, by the Assessment Body.
Certification by the QPPI
Individuals who pass a competency assessment, are qualified in this competency (as they have been assessed and have tangible evidence), but a final step in this competency assessment process can be certification. Certification can verify that all stages and aspects of the evidence evaluation and assessments have been fair, safe, valid, reliable and consistent. This certification is an optional step in the competency assessment process, but it ensures the qualification is ‘portable’ (the holder can move to other organisations, and the qualification will be recognized by these other organisations). The certification must be conducted by an Independent Body, qualified to perform the task, and the body verifies that:
- all processes meet the requirements of the competency standard, and are on record;
- all evidence has been validated and recorded;
- all stages and aspects of the assessments have been fair, secure, valid, reliable and consistent; and,
- the assessment and the award of the qualification have been recorded, audited and verified.
Hence, a qualification can be a two-step process: award and certification. The Assessment Body and the Independent Body certifying the process can be the same entity, providing independence and qualification are demonstrated.
QPPI can provide you with these standards, and we can assess you against these standards. Examples are given in Examples of Competency Standards.
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