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TECHNICAL

PAPERS

Free technical papers on competency and training in the pipeline industry

‘Am I Competent?’,

The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, September, 2018.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Regulations and standards require all staff that work on pipelines to be both ‘competent’ and ‘qualified’, but how do we ensure these individuals are evaluated and qualified?


This article explains what companies need to do to ensure their staff can demonstrate they are competent at the tasks they perform.

‘Competence and Qualifications’,

3R International, Spring Edition, March 2019

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Organizations in the pipeline business must define their own competency standards for engineers. This leads to difficulties: there is no benchmark to compare these standards to and no agreement on process or quality. Time for change?


This paper gives guidance on competency standards, levels, and implementation in an organisation.

Competency Standards – what are they, how did they come about, and why do we need them?,

PPSA Newsletter, Feb 2019 ​

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Short version of 3R international publication, Spring Edition, March 2019

Competency Standards – what are they, how did they come about, and why do we need them?, PPSA Newsletter, Feb 2019 ​

Short version of 3R international publication, Spring Edition, March 2019

‘The Competency Standards Manual for Pipeline Integrity Management’,

The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, September, 2018.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

This publication is a manual, giving guidance and a process for writing competency standards using a simple, goal-setting approach, which will complement existing in-house standards, and published standards.  Additionally, guidance on assessing competency is detailed.

'Assessing the Competence of Staff’

31st International Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference, February 2019.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Any demonstration of competence must be objective; therefore, an individual’s curriculum vitae (CV) is not a convincing demonstration, as a CV is usually highly subjective and has no independent verification. Also, many organizations rely on individuals performing self-assessments, or rely on line management ensuring staff are competent at the tasks they perform, but usually there is no structured process for either specifying or assessing the competency. This informality is not a convincing demonstration.

Competencies need to be formally assessed using a ‘competency standard’. The assessment could be an examination, an interview, or a performance review.This paper gives an outline of competence assessments, and a process for competence assessment.

‘A Guide to Mentoring Staff’,

The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, December, 2018.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Most successful people have benefitted from ‘mentoring’, and the benefits (to an individual or a business) of mentoring are widely recognised.


Last century, mentoring was usually carried out in business within a management chain, when someone in the chain acted as a mentor. Today, this ‘chain’ often does not exist, and true mentoring has slowly disappeared in many organisations. Mentoring in the 21st century means giving ‘wise counsel’, and involves knowledge guidance and advice, based on experience. This paper is a guide to mentoring, and ends by outlining a mentoring process for use in organisations.

‘Competency Standards for the

Pipeline Industry’,

12th International Pipeline Conference, Calgary, Canada, September, 2018.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

The paper recommends the contents of a competency standard, as well as an assessment method, and shows how competencies can be assessed against these standards. A case study of an assessment of an individual is also detailed.

The choice between a prescriptive and a performance-based competency standard is discussed, and it is shown that the choice is affected by the level of the competence, the complexity of the competence, the homogeneity of the industry, and the government regulator’s resources and capabilities to police the standard.

‘Changing how we Educate Engineers in the Industry’,

Pipeline Technology Journal. Issue 2. 2018.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

‘Continuing Professional Development (CPD)’ is the process of managing, and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that a member of staff gains both formally and informally.

Most of this CPD is informal learning during a working life, complimented by structured activities such as training courses. This paper explains that CPD is not simply training, as it includes knowledge, and experience.

‘What is a ‘Subject Matter Expert’?’,

The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, 2017.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Most industries have ‘subject matter experts’ – an authority in a specific topic, with deep knowledge of that topic. An ‘SME’ will be a specialist in specific competencies; therefore, they can advise in these competency areas, specify the key elements of these competencies, and also assess staff to determine if they meet these competencies.


In the engineering world these specialists are usually referred to as a subject matter expert or a ‘competent person’. This short article defines and describes a subject matter expert.

‘A Qualification Route Map for the Pipeline Industry’,

28th International Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference, Houston, USA, 2017.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

This paper emphasises the importance of ‘job qualifications’ compared to ‘academic qualifications’ and ‘professional qualifications’ This main part of the paper presents a qualification ‘route map’ for the use in the pipeline industry. It is a process involving competency-based learning programmes, leading to certified qualifications in various pipeline engineering disciplines. 

 

The paper presents examples of both the qualifications and standards, and explains a certification procedure for the qualification.

 

‘Competency’ in Engineering’,

28th International Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference, February 2016. Also published at the Journal of Pipeline Engineering, 1st Quarter 2016

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

In the 1960s, David McClelland (an American psychologist) showed that traditional intelligence quotient (IQ) tests and personality assessments being used by companies to hire new staff were poor predictors of competency. He proposed that these hiring decisions are better based on ‘demonstrable competencies’ relating specifically to the position being filled.

This paper explains and describes competency ‘standards’ and ‘frameworks’, and also explains how to assess competencies, to allow companies to say that their staff are ‘demonstrably’ competent.

‘Training and Education, the Great Competence Divide’,

11th International Pipeline Conference, Calgary, September 2016.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

This paper assesses current training in the pipeline industry, and highlights the good points and bad points, and the deficiencies in the learning process, that prevents demonstrable competencies. It then describes how academia has a rigorous learning process that allows this demonstration.
 

The paper ends with a ‘way forward’ for the pipeline industry, in its goal of demonstrating competency in its workforce.

‘The Forgotten Art of Mentoring’,

World Pipelines, December 2015.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Does everybody understand ‘mentoring’? Historically, mentoring in business has its roots in the craftsman-apprenticeship relationship, but mentoring is still very important: there are clear business benefits from mentoring.

This article emphasises the importance of mentoring, and explains how knowledge is transferred between a mentor and mentoree, and notes the importance of ‘wisdom’ in this transfer. Finally, the paper explains how a mentoring programme can be introduced into a company.

‘ASME Award goes to internet-based MSc in Pipeline Integrity Management’,

The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, December, 2014.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

This article covers the award of the prestigious Global Pipeline Award, judged and presented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). 

 

The award ‘recognises outstanding innovations and technological advances’, and had previously been won by Petrobras and PetroChina. The 2014 winner was a Masters program (MSc) developed through a partnership between Penspen Ltd., and Northumbria University in the UK. Penspen director Dr Phil Hopkins received the award and thanked Michelle Unger and her Learning Team who designed and managed the MSc.

Changing the Way we Learn’,

World Pipelines, October, 2014.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

Universities, technical schools, and training providers can all offer some level of learning, but most of this learning is ‘classroom- based’, which immediately limits availability and accessibility. The obvious solution is to provide some of this learning via the internet

This article explains how e-learning has been introduced into the pipeline industry, and how partnerships with academia can help this introduction. The article describes an MSc program in pipeline engineering in the UK, delivered by e-learning and the internet.

‘Training the Next Generation of Pipeline Engineers: Distance Learning and Accreditation,’

2nd Kuwait Pipe Technical Conference and Exhibition, 2011.

Authors: Michelle Unger (ROSEN Group) and Phil Hopkins (PHL).

There is an ageing workforce in the oil and gas industry and an urgent need to both recruit new staff, and rapidly train existing staff. Consequently, the education and training of engineering staff is of strategic importance to all companies operating in the industry.

This paper introduces a strategic approach to learning and education, presenting a model of structured, modular learning, using a distance learning platform.