Pipeline standards and regulations explicitly require personnel to be both competent and qualified to work on pipelines, but they neither define competent or qualified, nor provide methods or processes to demonstrate competence and qualifications.
This paper defines competence and qualification and introduces and describes “competency standards.” These standards are used to assess the competence of an individual and are an integral part of the process to qualify individuals as being competent. Individuals are proven to be qualified in a competency if they are successfully assessed against these standards.
The paper recommends the contents of a competency standard: the standard should clearly state its purpose and outcomes, and detail the knowledge, training, mentoring, and experience requirements, as well as an assessment method. Examples of these standards are presented, showing how competency standards provide a common definition of a competence and showing how competencies can be assessed against these standards. A case study of an assessment of an individual is also detailed.
The choice between a prescriptive and a performance-based competency standard is discussed, and it is shown that the choice is affected by the level of the competence, the complexity of the competence, the homogeneity of the industry, and the government regulator’s resources and capabilities to police the standard.
The paper explains that qualifications must be “portable”: as individuals move jobs, the qualifications they obtain need to be recognized by all companies. Portability is achieved by having the qualification “certified”. This certification is conducted by an independent body, which certifies that the processes followed (including any assessments) meet the requirements of the competency standard, and that the assessment and the award of the qualification have been audited and verified. Hence, a qualification is a two-step process: award and certification.