Offshore industry leaders came together at a leadership summit in Aberdeen and urged the rest of the sector to get behind the programme that will help deliver a safer, transferable pool of technically competent workers.
Connected Competence is an industry-driven initiative supported and enabled by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), which assures a base level of technical competence for workers across the industry through assessment against an agreed common standard.
At the summit organised by the ECITB, its chief executive Andrew Hockey stressed the importance of Connected Competence in building workforce resilience and the significance of collaboration in driving this base standard across the industry.
“We are at a critical point in the energy transition,” he said. “Workforce resilience, safety leadership and skills transferability are as important as ever.
“The collaboration around competence assurance through Connected Competence has been an excellent example of safety leadership in action.
“Successful delivery of the energy transition requires the industry’s continued support for Connected Competence to help steer the delivery of a safer, larger pool of technically competent workers to benefit the industry.”
Supporting an agile workforce of the future
As well as further promoting the benefits of Connected Competence, a big aim of the leadership summit was to encourage additional sign-ups to the programme’s Client Charter, with 18 signatories already on board including Shell, bp, Centrica Energy Storage Ltd, CNOOC International, CNR, Dana Petroleum Limited, ENI, Equinor, Harbour Energy, INEOS, Neo Energy, Neptune Energy, Repsol Sinopec, RockRose Energy, Serica Energy plc, Spirit Energy, TAQA and TotalEnergies.
Mr Hockey said: “The commitment already shown through the Client Charter has been a critical enabler to the successes achieved so far by Connected Competence. A sentiment echoed by OEUK’s HSE & Operations director, Mark Wilson, who added that the programme is recognised within the North Sea Transition Deal’s People & Skills delivery and will support and integrate with the Energy Skills Passport.
Signing the Client Charter commits asset owners to recognising and promoting Connected Competence as the industry base standard for technical competence assurance; including it in supply chain contracting strategies; and supporting the continued success of the scheme.
Connected Competence – an industry-wide approach
Connected Competence was developed as an industry-wide framework by major service companies, focusing initially on oil and gas workers.
The programme, which requires workers to demonstrate their ongoing technical competence every three to four years, reduces the duplication of assessments and costs, speeds up the deployment of personnel between sites, and increases safety.
Workers are required to undertake basic safety training before being deployed to sites, but they do not necessarily need to demonstrate their current technical competence which can be a contributory factor to avoidable incidents at site.
Ray Riddoch OBE, the former co-chair of the OEUK Board, helped drive Connected Competence forward in gaining unified support from operators and clients. He said: “It just makes sense, industry should have done this 20 years ago.”
“The maturity of safety leadership and the unanimous agreement towards the principals of Connected Competence shown from the Operator Council are testimony to the forward-thinking leaders as the sector enters transformational change.”
The summit also heard case studies that showcase the programme in action, with Harbour Energy senior vice president Trevor Cogle speaking about the benefits of all contractors on site working to the same, transparent base standard of technical competence, while Bilfinger UK executive president Sandy Bonner shared best practices for driving efficiency.
The event discussed the safety benefits of the programme with Craig Wiggins, executive director for Step Change in Safety, before Mr Hockey concluded that contributions towards the new Client Signatory Forum will ultimately define the success and sustainability of the scheme.
He said: “Connected Competence is set up for success. It is now about maintaining the development of the programme in oil and gas and transferring that into other sectors within the engineering construction industry.”