There are many in the petroleum contracting community that tell stories of numerous failed attempts to develop national accreditation standards for the workforce that supports the safe and environmentally responsible operation of the more than 7000 service station sites that operate around the country.

“If you really think about it, the current lack of national skills for the petroleum contracting industry is such that you need a fully qualified plumber (4 years TAFE studies) to repair a toilet at a service station, but there are no formal skill standards that apply to the people who install million-dollar fuel systems that must provide high levels of public safety and environmental protection”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie

The absence of these standards has resulted in many major retailers rightly developing their own programmes for accrediting petroleum contract works and/or petroleum equipment manufacturers developing mechanisms for certifying personnel who install their products.

More recently, this issue has been further complicated because of Australian State/Territory environmental and safety regulations putting an obligation on fuel retailers to install that critical infrastructure is installed and maintained by ‘suitably qualified persons’ – with no formal mechanism for determining what constitutes such a person.

Prior to that, it is understood that the former Australian Petroleum Industry Contractors and Suppliers Association (APICSA) had spent more than 15 years trying to address this issue as more and more of the nation’s service stations were placed under the control of small and medium sized business that did not have internal project and contract management resources.

Thanks to the efforts of many former APICSA members and a number of current petroleum industry stakeholders, ACAPMA has been able to secure Australian Government approval (and funding) for the development of four national skills units that will be formally recognised under the Australian Industry Skills Framework.

“The June 2019 Decision of the Australian Industry Skills Council gives our industry the opportunity to develop the first four skill standards for our industry, with the potential for developing a formal qualification in the future”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

One of the seven national skills service organisations (SSO’s) – Australian Industry Standards (AIS) – has been funded to work with our industry to develop these standards under the umbrella of the Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee (IRC). This work is programmed for delivery by 30 June 2020.

“Our challenge now is to identify which skill needs should be addressed by these first four standards and to identify what the minimum knowledge and skills outcomes should be for people completing each of these courses”, said Mark

“Given that this issue was discussed at last year’s APFI Forum in Auckland, the most obvious mechanism for having this discussion was to utilise the 2019 APFIF Contractors Forum to hold this important consultation”, added Mark

Accordingly, the agenda for the Petroleum Contractors Forum (to be held at the 2019 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum in Melbourne on 17 and 18 September) will be entirely devoted to setting the priorities and directions for the development of these national skill standards.

The workshop will adopt a new format comprising a dedicated conference room adjacent to the main conference and trade halls at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre. Forum discussions will be jointly facilitated by senior representatives of Australian Industry Standards and ACAPMA to promote in-depth discussion and capture industry resolutions.

 “This won’t be the only opportunity to get involved in this important agenda, but it is an important first step, which, we encourage anyone who has a significant stake in the petroleum contracting industry to consider registering for the 2019 Contractors Forum which includes registration to the first full day of the APFIF and dinner on 17 September 2019”, said Mark.

Details of the APFI Forum 2019, including the agenda of the Petroleum Contractors Workshop and registration details, can be found on the official website: apfiforum.com.