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IQ Invites Members to Shape the Sector’s Future Skills Needs

First published in the August 2022 issue of Quarry Management

Participate in an important industry project that will underpin the development of skills and qualifications

The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) works collaboratively with the wider quarrying and minerals extractives industry to ensure that the sector is ‘skills fit’ for the future. And IQ wants members to actively participate in an important industry project that will underpin the development of skills and qualifications for the whole sector.

This industry-led initiative is examining the underpinning competencies required by the sector, both now and in the future, to ensure that qualifications are relevant and career pathways exist so that individuals can progress. This includes a review of the National Occupational Standards (NOS), which are statements of the standards of performance individuals must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace, together with specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding.

James Thorne, IQ’s chief executive officer, says: ‘The Institute of Quarrying, in collaboration with other industry partners, regularly refers to National Occupational Standards to ensure that industry qualifications meet the competence needs of job roles in our sector. 

‘As part of this ongoing project to future-proof the industry, we’re calling on all our members to help us shape the future of quarrying. As an IQ member, you are an influential part of our organization and we need your valuable knowledge, experience, and expertise to inform this process.

‘We need competencies to align with the changing landscape in the industry, reflecting on green skills, the sustainability agenda, and technological enhancements, as well as the future skills needs of the sector.’

The importance of National Occupational Standards

The NOS database is a free resource of standards that cover job roles across every sector of business. All the standards are developed by industry employers to ensure they are fit for purpose.

The terminology is one with which quarrying professionals across the industry will be familiar. There are several key resources that signpost to the National Occupational Standards, including the HSE website, Quarry Regulations, as well as the Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee (QNJAC) and the approved guidance on competence assurance. 

In addition, the NOS are regularly referred to by awarding bodies to ensure qualifications are aligned to the competence needs of job roles.

Volunteering with IQ: Can I get involved?

Anthony Elgey is IQ’s education and skills project manager. He explains: ‘Who creates these standards? Well, the industry does. Working groups of employer representatives come together to develop and review NOS for job roles. So it’s vital that the standards represent the diverse range of employers in both size and scope of their business – from an independent business to a major operator.

‘It’s essential that any review of the standards involves quarrying professionals, as many have not been updated for years and are subsequently out of touch with the quantum shift that the industry has undergone in terms of technology and automation, as well as health and safety and accountability.’

Roy Bush FIQ, director of health and safety at the British Aggregates Association, explains: ‘It is crucial that any NOS review is undertaken by those who are themselves suitably competent to do so. An in-depth working knowledge of the latest technology, legislation, and safe working practices is essential amongst those doing the reviews. Volunteers to sit on any review body should be from the relevant industry and properly experienced and knowledgeable on the particular demands of the task under review.’

Colin Mew, former HM Chief Inspector of Quarries at the HSE and now advisor to the Mineral Products Association (MPA), adds: ‘The National Occupational Standards should be thought of as the starting point for assessing the competence of an employee. Employers can use the NOS to identify gaps in knowledge and experience and in turn use them to develop their employees with all the benefits that competence brings with it. It stands to reason that the NOS should be periodically reviewed, and I welcome this industry-led initiative to review and update them. 

‘I’m sure there are many IQ members across the industry who have relevant expertise to contribute to the process and I would encourage them to contact the Institute of Quarrying. Don’t lose sight of the fact that participating in a working group like this is also valuable CPD, as well as being a significant contribution to the future of our industry and an investment in the talent coming into our industry.’

Simon Smith, operations director at Longwater Sand and Gravel, is the lead of the working group updating the industry related NOS. He concludes: ‘The Institute of Quarrying comprises members who are passionate about the minerals industry. They are professionals who have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skills and are therefore a fantastic pool of talent that we need to bring together to form these valuable working groups.

‘Crucially, those who contribute to the development of high-quality National Occupational Standards will help to make the industry a safer place to work, but they will also leave a legacy, by raising the bar to make every role in the industry high performing and sought after by those looking for a challenging and rewarding career. As a 35+ year veteran myself, I am proud to be leading this work on behalf of our industry.’

The Institute of Quarrying was founded over 100 years ago by four people who wanted the industry to come together to raise standards, share knowledge, and be recognized as highly skilled professionals. These are the principles that guide the Institute of Quarrying today and why it is proud to support the ongoing work to review the National Occupational Standards that will benefit members and the wider sector.

Those members that would like to get involved should contact Anthony Elgey, IQ education and skills project manager: [email protected]  

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