The British Drilling Association (BDA) has long felt that there was a gap in recognising, through formal qualifications, the additional skills required to drill and test more challenging boreholes. With this in mind, MP Awards is launching a new Level 3 Diploma qualification in Advanced Land Drilling, which is endorsed by the BDA and should greatly enhance the formal qualifications path available to drillers in the UK.
The qualification, 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, aims to help drilling employers develop and maintain a competent workforce. An additional aim is providing linear and structured career progression within the land drilling sector, which many within the industry expressed is something which is 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 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 and 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 new Level 3 qualification is not a replacement or an alternative to the existing Level 2 qualification, which is and should continue to be the mark of competence for drillers. As such, the 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. This prerequisite, together with the necessary requirement 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 that the assessors have suitable knowledge and experience. The awarding body and the BDA consider that the assessors, 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 real-world perspective and experience.
With the Level 2 and 3 qualifications being integral to upholding the standards and skills required for challenging disciplines and also considered a benchmark for the industry, if the assessor cannot fully understand or recognise the discipline being assessed then the whole foundation of the qualification risks being undermined.
Key practices relating to health, safety and quality, along with technical requirements, can only be fully recognised if experience in the discipline being assessed. For example, an assessor who has only experience in dynamic sampling should not be assessing a rotary driller. Similarly, a sonic driller should not be assessed by someone with only has previous experience in cable percussive drilling techniques.
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 recognised 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 driller's competence - which is good for the industry and for the drillers.
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