IMCA technical adviser for competence and training Andre Rose discusses the organisation’s freelance competence e-portfolio scheme
The IMCA freelance competence e-portfolio is a computer-based framework for the freelance professional to build, maintain and control their own individual competence portfolio. Initially, in early 2018, the scheme was provided for Survey freelancers, but in November 2018 was expanded to include ROV freelance professionals. The scheme is provided free of charge by IMCA and full details can be found on the IMCA website.
The e-portfolio includes an introductory guidance document, competence tables for survey and ROV, covering all the appropriate levels, template record and testimony assessment documents, along with worked examples of these documents. The documents are designed to be used by the individual but can also be utilised by agencies and contractors requiring a template.
There are no central registration or application processes and IMCA does not participate in any assessment of competence or certification. These roles are owned by the contracting company or agency member.
The scheme is designed to be paperless and uses e-signatures. Each document can be filled in, signed and forwarded electronically but, if there is a requirement for a paper copy, can also be printed out.
Why do we need it?
The freelance professional has long been a vital resource when manning offshore projects, whether we are considering diving, marine, survey or ROV. Without the freelancer, contracting companies would have to recruit and retain many more staff, along with the associated costs.
Utilising freelance personnel allows a contracting company the flexibility to cope with rapidly changing market conditions, unforeseen short-term project fluctuations and illness.
However, to ensure the safety, efficiency and standardisation of the workforce and assure client confidence, it is of paramount importance that the competence of the freelance professional is assessed and verified against the same criteria as those used for full-time company employees.
The freelance competence e-portfolio scheme ensures that all team members are working to the same standards and are assessed and verified against those standards.
The scheme benefits everybody involved in the competence process. Client companies can be assured that their contractor workforce, both permanent and temporary, has been assessed and verified as competent against established criteria.
The contractor company can be confident that the freelance professionals they engage from agencies, are proven to be as competent against the standards as their own staff.
Agencies can be assured they are supplying appropriately trained, knowledgeable and experienced freelancers to the contracting company.
The freelance professional can demonstrate that they have been assessed and verified to the same standard as full-time employees and they can easily move from company-to-company using the e-portfolio system.
Overall, the reduction in paperwork and the transition from freelance engagement based on CV assessment alone should reduce delay and speed up the application process time.
The move to a digital competence scheme creates the potential for the further development of the scheme. Other IMCA committees are currently investigating the scope and feasibility of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) schemes, and how they can be utilised with other training and certification methods to provide an integrated skills portfolio, where the individual can own and maintain a ‘living’ document detailing all areas of their skills and knowledge.
This CPD would not necessarily be restricted to professional career information, and could be expanded to include new skills, knowledge and experiences gained from activities outside of work, such as learning a new language or taking up a new hobby.
It is also possible that further development could result in a mobile application where an individual’s record of skills, experience, knowledge and certification could be presented in one integrated document, effectively a CV App.