Qualifications Commission

Article by Yee-Li Lee

Part 2: Building long-term sustainability for IChemE professional qualifications volunteers

THE Qualifications Commission, also known as the Webb Commission, was established in 2013 under the leadership of Colin Webb, vice president for IChemE qualifications at the time. The two main areas of focus for the Commission were to assure the long-term sustainability of IChemE’s peer-led qualifications processes; and to expand the value and reach of IChemE’s professional development offering. To help implement the Commission’s recommendations, Neil Atkinson (then director of qualifications and international development) and Libby Steele (head of educational affairs) were responsible for guiding the work, along with two newly-appointed staff members, myself and Tasos Dedes, both chemical engineers.

This article, which explains the work undertaken on building long-term sustainability for IChemE qualifications volunteers, is the second instalment of the Qualifications Commission series. For more information about the Commission and its work on professional development opportunities, see issue 917, p44.

Sustainable succession plan

Professional qualifications activities within IChemE involve peer review assessment for Chartered Chemical Engineer and Professional Process Safety Engineer applications as well as accreditation assessments for higher education programmes and ACTS (Accredited Company Training Schemes). Achieving sustainable peer review processes to rigorously sustain the range of IChemE’s qualification activity in terms of capacity, capability and geography requires member volunteer pools that are strong, vibrant, well equipped and effectively supported.

With nearly 2,000 Member volunteers to support professional qualifications peer review, it is vital for IChemE to have an effective succession management in volunteer recruitment, training and development. Currently there are ten pools of volunteers covering specialist roles such as interviewing, report assessments, and accreditation. In addition to this, there are also executive roles on the Professional Formation Forum (PFF) and Education and Accreditation Forum (EAF), see Figure. Working closely with staff and volunteers, my role here is to ensure a succession plan is in place and executed for all these specialist roles. The Commission’s sustainability work strand targets are:

  • An appropriate set of volunteer pools, members of which are all appropriately trained, validated and deployed.
  • Adequate numbers of trained report assessors and interviewers to meet future demands globally.
  • Up-to-date training packages including webinars and a comprehensive library of approved e-resources available to support members with specialist interests (interviewing, assessments, accreditations, executive roles on PFF and EAF, etc)
  • A PFF and EAF membership which is globally representative and equipped to manage the global nature of the business.
  • Up-to-date documentation as part of ISO 9001 Quality Management System, with a supporting structure for overseeing qualifications processes and the engagement, availability, training and succession planning of IChemE’s pool of volunteers to effectively meet requirements.

This work can be explained simply in three phases: first, to close any immediate identified ‘gaps’ in the delivery of these targets; second to improve quality of services; and finally, maintaining business-as-usual operations.

Article by Yee-Li Lee

Training and Development Executive for volunteer assessors, IChemE

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