The British Drilling Association (BDA) has long felt that there was a gap in recognizing through formal qualifications, the additional skills required to drill and test more challenging boreholes. With this in mind, MP Awards will be launching a new Level 3 Diploma qualification in Advanced Land Drilling, early in 2020, which is endorsed by the BDA and should greatly enhance the formal qualifications path available to drillers.
The qualification was developed with MP Awards, an Industry working group, and the BDA, who together designed both its content and structure, as well as the process for its assessment, with the goal to help drilling employers develop and maintain a competent workforce. It was also developed with the aim to provide linear and structured career progression within the land drilling sector, which many within the industry expressed was long overdue. As well as providing a formal qualification, it is hoped the new Level 3 diploma will help with the maintenance of standards, and to provide continuity and structured learning practice in the industry.
However, with the qualification being a Level 3 it includes supervisor elements that will be assessed so enhances with qualifications the tasks an advanced driller would perform in supervising and mentoring others too.
The BDA is keen to point out that the Level 3 qualification is not a replacement or an alternative to the Level 2 qualification, which is and should continue to be the mark of competence for drillers. As such, Level 2 Diploma in Drilling Operations is a pre-requisite for candidates who wish to undertake the Level 3 qualification, along with two years of experience following achievement of Level 2. The Level 2 prerequisite, together with the two years' experience will ensure the quality and status of the qualification, as well as the competence of the individuals who undertake the Level 3 qualification with the end goal being an experienced Driller who may or may not coordinate or supervise a team.
Having established the qualification, for it to have true value, it is important the assessor is also of quality and experience. The awarding body and the BDA consider that the assessor for both the Level 2 and Level 3 qualification need to have relevant industry experiences for what they are assessing to be able to understand the context of the qualification from a real-world perspective and experience. Key practices relating to health, safety and quality, along with technical requirements can only be fully recognized if experience in this discipline being assessed. For example, an assessor who has the only experience in dynamic sampling should not be assessing a Rotary driller or an assessor with previous experience in cable percussive drilling techniques should not be assessed a Sonic driller.
With the qualifications, Levels 2 and 3 being integral to upholding the standards and skills required for the challenging disciplines and also considered a benchmark for the industry, if the assessor cannot fully understand or recognize the discipline being assessed then the whole foundation of the qualification risks being undermined.
The drilling sector is evolving with many new techniques and challenges presenting themselves constantly and all against the backdrop of a need to encourage more people into the sector and to secure recognized career paths for those within it too. The Level 3 qualification will help address this, as well as provide evidence-based certificated proof of a drillers competence - which is good for the industry and for the drillers!
Paul McMann, Fugro