By: Daryl Brister
Although there have been improvements over time, the industry is now facing a new set of challenges with an ever widening gap created by those retiring from the workforce. As the next generation enters the workforce, it is even more critical that there are tools and systems in place to support their learning, development, and performance on the job. Training on its own will no longer be enough. We will need to train, coach, and continually assess new workers to ensure that they understand the “how” and “why” of the tasks they are asked to do in their jobs each day. We will also need to assess them in the workplace to confirm that they can perform under different conditions and in a variety of situations. They will need to demonstrate their competence to the applicable standard, not to one individual’s subjective judgement.
Where will your company be in the next 25 years? How will you get there? Do you know? Companies that will remain competitive and safe over the next generation are those that support their people in a variety of ways – from development and coaching to reward and recognition. These are the organizations that recognize that people are the foundation for success, not just in the Oil & Gas industry, but in all industries.
An even greater challenge than meeting the requirements of new regulations will be ensuring that industry operators and contractors work together to agree on a consistent and standardized approach to implement changes. Together, they need to standardize training, so that requirements are consistent from operator to operator. Contractors struggle to just keep up with the different training requirements, plans and processes necessary to move from one job site to the next. In addition, there is currently no standard benchmark for contractor groups to ensure that the knowledge, skills, and competencies of their staff are consistently measured among providers or that re-training requirements were consistently maintained. Added to these challenges, the cost burden of compliance continues to grow because of the difficulty in meeting the varying plans for each operator.
The solution requires a collective industry agreement that more “on-the-job” training is needed. Effective training can and does result in the development of job-related knowledge and understanding. However, companies need to also implement competency management systems and assess their people in the operations front line. One method gaining popularity is to re-employ and train retired workers as qualified coaches and assessors, so they can pass on their knowledge and understanding to the next generation. Their contribution can then leave a legacy in a safer and more reliable workplace than when they first started some 30+ years ago.
Competence Management Systems (CMS) have been used throughout the Nuclear Industry, Space Industry, and the Oil & Gas industry for decades. A CMS is designed and built based on a company’s requirements to provide a practical and systematic approach to develop the knowledge and skills of their operations. The figure below shows the main components of an effective CMS.
The intent of a CMS is to help ensure that individuals can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding and the skills required to perform a specific job task to a recognized and agreed-to standard. A comprehensive CMS provides measurable, documented, and auditable information on the capability of the workforce and gives management insight into gaps or deficiencies so they can adjust the process or program to close these gaps.
While documentation and standard processes are critical elements of a CMS, the key to any CMS is the quality of the trained assessors used to assess and evaluate the operational workforce. Since they are the last line of assurance, Assessors must maintain the integrity of the CMS by strict adherence to the established standards used in the assessments.
Certainly Competence Management Systems support compliance with regulations and standards, but the ultimate goal of these processes is to ensure that:
- Employees are not put at risk of personal harm from the tasks they perform,
- Operators understand the “what and why” of their operations to avoid environmental mistakes, and
- Facility management operates with the highest level of safety and integrity.
If you don't already have a CMS, get one. You can't afford not to.