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Development of National Competency Standards for NDT within AustraliaShayne Flynn ,Boeing Australia Limited,
This paper describes Competencies for NDT and their formulation by industry for acceptance by the Australian National Training Authority. These competencies comprise of 12 units laid down in the Metal and Engineering Training Package.
The Training Package is divided into three categories, Foundation, Core and Specialisation Units. Foundation units describe skills that are a necessary part of the skill profile of every job in the industry. Core units define competencies which are common and necessary across a range of classifications and positions in the Metal and Engineering Industry. Specialisation units describe the diverse range of competencies needed across the industry.
Outcomes are based on competency descriptions called units, which describe the level of skill and the depth of knowledge required to work competently. Core and Specialisation units will allow the Employer and Employee to facilitate flexibility and the opportunity of multiskilling. Competency Standards form the basis of curriculum development for accredited training programs and workplace recognition of skills. On successful completion of training the Technician will receive a Certificate at the appropriate level which is linked to the number of modules/units completed under the Metal and Engineering Industry National Competency Standards.
Keywords: Foundation, Core, Specialisation, Element and Evidence
Non Destructive Testing (NDT) within Australia has two major roles. These are scheduled and unscheduled NDT tasks for general industry and the aerospace sector. Currently NDT personnel gain their skills and knowledge in a number of ways, these are:
Under the current system, interpretation of the required skill levels has been fragmented and varied throughout industry. To overcome this a system that allows a range to cover a one off inspection through to fully trained level 2 technician is needed. Personnel trained to Enterprise Standards and/or approved TAFE syllabus using guidance from Australian Standard 3998 General Engineering, and Australian Standard 3669 for Aerospace has not allowed the full range of flexibility and guidance for training pathways.
In 1996 the Australia Institute for Non-Destructive Testing (AINDT) decided to form a sub-committee to look at formalizing competencies for NDT within Australia. This committee involved representatives from General Engineering, Aerospace, Manufacturing Workers Union and Training Centres such as TAFE and Private Providers. This group met every three months over a period of four years until the draft standards were ready for acceptance by Industry and the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA). It is the intention of AINDT to remove the confusion and misinterpretation that currently exists within the industry on NDT training and certification requirements.
Stage one of the process was to acquire the services of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Industry Training Advisory Body (MERS ITAB), who are an advisory body to Federal and State governments on industry training issues. AINDT's sub-committee worked closely with MERS ITAB in the development of NDT Competencies. Before the committee proceeded, it had to gain an understanding of the competency system. Once this had been accomplished the committee used NDT Enterprise standards that were in use by some sectors of industry as their starting point.
Achieving the required objectives encompassed grading and populating information into areas that make up the standards. To assist in the process of developing the competency, the system under development by MERS-ITAB at the time was adopted. The following is a brief overview of terms, what they relate to and how they form part of the system.
The basis of the standard is made up of units which are grouped into a number of broad areas of activities which are scoped under the term fields. These activities can be common across industry or cover specialist areas such as Surface Finishing, Assembly, Machining, and in this case the field of Non-destructive Testing. Units are also divided into three categories, Foundation, Core and Specialisation Units as mentioned earlier.
Foundation units as interpreted by MERS ITAB, are skills that are a necessary part of the skill profile of every job in the industry. In most cases Foundation units are necessary prerequisites to other units of a higher level and will form part of the skill profile of employees. Consideration was given to the fact that in most cases, if not all, NDT competency skills were acquired post trade. The committee's assumption from this was that applicants would have already gained these basic skills. There are only four Foundation Units as listed in Table 1.
|Unit||Unit Title||Unit Pts||Total Pts|
|1.1F||Undertake interactive workplace communication||0||0|
|1.2F||Apply principles of Occupation Health & Safety (OH&S) in work environment||0||0|
|1.3F||Apply quality procedures||0||0|
|1.4F||Plan to undertake a routine task||0||0|
|Table 1: Competency Standards Points List.|
Core units are defined as competencies that are used across a range of classifications and positions in the Metal and Engineering Industry. To categorise the Core units a grading system is used to define each level, with C12 being the lower skill level through to C1 the highest. The range of each group has been given a Band rating which is calculated through the units points weighting. Weighting of units will be explained later under the heading Components of a Competency Standard.
Furthermore each Band represents the range of levels over which the competency Unit may be used. For NDT training packages, which cater for traineeships, the entry point would be C12 in most cases and for post trade employees C10 would become the entry point. Depending on their trade background, inclusion of some core units would be necessary for an employee that did not acquire such knowledge during their basic trade training. An example of this would be reporting writing not required in some trades but definitely needed in NDT. Table 2 shows some of the core units available in the system.
|Unit||Unit Title||Unit Pts||Total Pts|
|2.1C12||Apply quality systems||2||2|
|2.2C11||Organise & analyse information||2||2|
|2.3C11||Operate in a work based team environment||2||2|
|2.9C10||Perform computer operations||2||2|
|2.13C5||Perform mathematical computations||4||8|
|Table 2: Competency Standards Points List|
Specialisation units are grouped into individual skill sectors to meet the diverse range of competencies needed across industry. These units are also divided into bands indicating the unit's level of difficulty for those skills required by industry. The levels for specialisation competency units covering NDT have been scoped under Bands A and B. To stop confusion between the term band, used for both Core and Specialisation units the following rule applies. Core unit bands are numerical and are used to group competencies to set levels. Specialisation unit bands are alphabetical and are used to categorise the skill level. NDT methods have been graded under specialisation units A and B. To allow for complete coverage of NDT units, a dual status has been applied. Band A covers the basic testing in each method and a dual status has been applied to the requirements for testing outcomes which would allow certification as a level 2 technician. Table 3 Competency Standards Points List is a sample of the NDT Competency that is currently listed under this system.
|Unit||Unit Title||Unit Pts||Total Pts|
|NON DESTRUCTIVE TESTING|
|24.1A||Perform basic penetrant testing||2||4|
|24.2A||Perform penetrant testing||4||12|
|24.3A||Perform basic magnetic particle testing||2||4|
|24.4A||Perform magnetic particle testing||4||12|
|24.5A||Perform basic eddy current testing||2||4|
|24.6A||Perform eddy current testing||10||18|
|Table 3: Competency Standards Points List|
This system is purposely structured to align with the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF). In most cases Units selected for a training pathway will have outcomes that allow recognition of qualifications under the AQF. Currently the AQF has eleven qualification levels in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education Sectors. Qualifications from Certificate I through to Advanced Diploma can be awarded under the VET sector. Further information is available through organisations such as MERS ITAB and the Australian Industry Group.
To present the Employer and/or Employee with the flexibility of training to the required level, each method has been split into two levels when forming units. As previously explained basic penetrant testing unit cater for level 1 skill requirements whereas the penetrant testing unit covers the skills required for level 2 Technicians. When drafting the competency standards the following areas had to be considered and populated to ensure they met the requirements of industry and that of the ANTA.
In the case of NDT this refers to the specialisation Bands A, B etc. A dual status of A and B bands was applied for the higher level of testing in each method for level 2 Technicians.
The term field as previously explained is used to correctly identify the activity of the standard. This is self-explanatory with the field being Non Destructive Testing.
Weighting is assigned to units as a points value for classification purposes under the National system. The points allocated to individual units are calculated from a number of factors including the amount of formal and on the job training needed to meet skill levels. Underpinning knowledge, experience and the complexity of the skill are also considered.
are units that must be included in the training pathway. These are determined by the training pathway chosen and level of qualification sought.
The segments that go towards making up a competency unit are grouped under the term Element. In the case of NDT, main steps in each method were used in the construction of each element.
To clarify each element criteria is used to state what has to be achieved in order to meet the requirements of the unit and its elements.
To standardise assessments, an Assessor's guide is provided for this component of the standard that indicates what the assessors should observe and confirm.
The inclusion of a Range Statement describes the context in which the Competency Unit must be demonstrated and refers to any relevant legislative requirements, Australian Standard and/or International Standards. Many factors had to be considered for the range statement, but at the same time one had to be mindful not to make any of the statements too restrictive.
The Evidence guide describes the context in which the assessment is to be conducted. To ensure nothing is left to chance and the minimum criteria is met, statements for assessment conditions, critical aspects and special notes are included as part of the evidence guide.
When all the above has been populated with the desired information the competency standard is laid out as shown on pages 6 through 8. This example is incomplete for copyright purposes and is only intended as a reference between the text and how it will be delivered under the MERS ITAB system.
Once the competencies are in place it will allow development of training packages to be designed for Employers to meet customer needs at minimal cost and time. No longer does industry have to wear the cost of over training and at the same time can feel confident that skill levels are within the framework required. Other advantages that are inherited with this system are records of skill levels and documented evidence for assessment and training through logbooks. Employees along with Employers can map out a career path, which allows both parties to achieve their goals.
With the introduction of NDT competency no major problems are envisaged, as NDT organisation/training establishments have throughout the years assessed and certified to competency skill and knowledge base levels. By the introduction of such competencies it is considered by most, a step in the right direction for standardisation across the diverse range of industry within Australia. This in turn should lead to an assurance that a minimum standard of training and assessment has been attained prior to certification being sought through the appropriate authority for any method or process.
Competency standards do not take the place of our current certifying system whether it be through AINDT, National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) or Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). NDT competencies have been put in place to assist Employers in choosing the correct training path for the Employee to gain the skills he/she requires to meet the company's charter.
Metal and Engineering Industry Competency Standards [pdf file of 20KB]
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