With the recognition of demographic change and impacts on the workforce, there is an increased focus on competency management within the pipeline industry. The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) is a voluntary, non-profit industry association representing major Canadian transmission pipeline companies that has been particularly active in this area. With recent publication of CEPA’s guidance document on competency management, CEPA member companies identified a need for a companion set of competency standards for technical staff. As such, the Pipeline Integrity Community of Practice (CoP) within CEPA formed a task group to identify and better understand potential solutions to address this need.
The challenge in maturing competency management within the Canadian pipeline industry, as identified by the task group, is two fold:
1. First, the competency system needs to be flexible to address a broad range of topics, operation types as well as a progression of proficiencies (e.g., engineers in training through to senior level subject matter experts).
2. Second, there is a need for a system that is practical and can be developed / adopted in a relatively short time frame.
In undertaking an assessment of the options available in industry, the adoption of the system that has been developed by the Australian Pipeline and Gas Association (APGA) was selected as the optimal path forward.
The APGA Pipeline Engineer Competency System (APGA PECS) provides a mechanism for understanding competency as well as a means of assessing and documenting competency for pipeline engineers. Specifically, industry expert panels were used to develop the competency standards which were then published for broad consultation prior to finalizing. Within Australia, the system is now the responsibility of the APGA’s Pipeline Engineering Competency System (PECS) Committee for ongoing development, review and maintenance to ensure the system remains current and fit for purpose. One of the key characteristics of the APGA competency standards is the consistency of elements and a standard format for requirements in every stream of pipeline engineering. Further, the APGA System has been demonstrated to be practical and sustainable through use within Australia.
The APGA System is now being customized for use in the Canadian Pipeline industry under an agreement announced in October 2019. This paper will provide insights into key aspects of competency system, the approach taken to assess viable options as well as the experience of customizing the APGA system for Canadian use. The system is anticipated to be available for Canadian companies in 2020 and provides a pathway to meeting the two main challenges identified for managing competency in the Canadian industry.