One of the issues that was brought to ACAPMA soon after the demise of the Australian Petroleum Industry Contractors and Suppliers Association (APICSA), was the need for development of a national qualification for petroleum contractors and equipment installers.

At a roundtable meeting held in Melbourne in April 2015 involving major fuel retailers and contractors, it was noted that there was a need to ‘professionalise’ the petroleum contractors to ensure that all works were performed by suitably qualified and skilled persons.

“I recall being told during the conversation, having not long assumed the leadership of ACAPMA at the time, that APICSA had been trying to establish a skills qualification for more than 20 years !!, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie

“That suggested to me, that development of such a qualification was both complex and time consuming”, added Mark

By way of a stop-gap, and mindful of other commercially operated contractor accreditation programmes, ACAPMA developed and launched the National Petroleum Contractor Recognition Scheme (NPCRS) in late 2015.

Today, the NPCRS is required for contractors performing work across two major retail networks and is also utilised by some independent retailers. More than 257 contractors and suppliers are registered under the NPCRS

The NPCRS is a ‘light touch’ accreditation system that comprises a credit reference check and a review of insurance cover. In addition, all field staff employed by the registered business must complete an online training module.

“But our intent was always to build on the foundations of the NPCRS to develop a nationally recognised qualification – and this need was again communicated to the ACAPMA Secretariat during the Petroleum Contractor workshops held in Sydney and Melbourne earlier this year”, said Mark.

Following a resolution made during the 2018 Petroleum Contractors Forum (held during the 2018 Asia-Pacific Fuel Industry Forum), ACAPMA formally approached Australian Industry Standards – a Skills Service Organisation (SSO) that develops national training standards under the national Vocational Education and Training framework.

The process of developing national training standards is a lengthy one and involves first developing a business case for the development of new training standards – which, once developed, ultimately form the basis of nationally recognised competencies and/or qualifications.

ACAPMA is currently working on the business case with AIS (See www.australianindustrystandards.org.au) and expects to finalise this work in January

Once developed, the business case will then be forwarded to the Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)– a national committee operating under the COAG agenda that is responsible for approving work on new training standards and modifications to existing training standards.

Once the business case is approved, the task of developing the training standards is assigned to an Industry Reference Committee (IRC).

“Our proposal is that the work be assigned to the Transport & Logistics IRC, currently chaired by ACAPMA, who will then establish a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to develop specific competency units in areas such as petroleum system design, electrical works at service stations, UPSS installation and commissioning, UPSS system testing, hot works and site decommissioning”, said Mark

Once developed and approved the standards can be used by Registered Training Organisations (e.g. TAFE’s and private training businesses) to develop and deliver industry training – with the quality of all future training to be overseen by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

ACAPMA entered discussions with one training organisation earlier this year to ensure that there was sufficient interest in the development of the necessary training courses once the standards are developed. Given the nature of the feedback received, ACAPMA has elected to push ahead with the preparation of the necessary Business Case.

“To say this process is a lengthy one is somewhat of an understatement and reminds me of the comments made by wiser heads than mine at that fateful meeting in April 2015”, said Mark.

“Nonetheless we have persisted and the engagement of AIS in the development of a business case for the development of national training standards for our industry is a very significant milestone”, added Mark

Next week, all ACAPMA Associates will be sent a link to a survey to ensure that the Business Case advances a request for the development of national training units in the areas of highest industry priority.

“We are also working on the establishment of a national online forum exclusively for the contracting industry and we hope to be able to get details about this forum out before the end of the year”, said Mark

“While these needs were identified at the 2018 APFIF Contractors Forum in New Zealand in September, we want to validate this feedback with a wider audience via the survey before finalising the Business Case”, said Mark

At this stage, the intent is for the business case to be submitted to the Australian Industry Skills Council (AISC) for approval in April 2019, with a view to detailed work commencing on the development of training units in mid- 2019 and first units available to industry from early 2020.

Any member or Associate business seeking further information about this work is encouraged to contact Mark McKenzie (CEO of ACAPMA) by email at markm@acapma.com.au