The CIWM and WAMITAB have introduced the  Operator Competence Scheme for England and Wales only. It is now a requirement for individuals to keep their competence up to date. This means that all competent persons falling within the scheme will be required to demonstrate Continuing Competence and this will be appropriate to the level of risk posed by the facility so that it remains proportional.

ADL Environmental Ltd has developed an online website for continuing competence that has resources covering the syllabus and a mock exam and test questions system so that you can practice your knowledge and get used to sitting online exams before sitting the real exam. The site can be found at www.continuingcompetence.co.uk

WAMITAB has published the following details of the scheme. It will be applicable to individuals who are :

  • Existing holders of a CoTC who achieved their CoTC on or before 22 December 2008, which was the date the Scheme was approved;
  • New entrants who achieve one of CIWM/WAMITAB‘s new competence qualifications after this date (12,6 and 4 unit qualifications, VRQ and EPOC);
  • ‘Deemed’ competent by the Environment Agency (EA); and
  • ‘EA assessed’; Other than those where EA assessment is a pre-requisite for obtaining the two-year CoTC exemption.

When will this apply to you?

A number of deadlines apply which are as follows:

  • All CoTC holders who achieved their CoTC before 22 December 2008, which was the date the  scheme was approved, will have to demonstrate their continuing competence by the end of a 2-year competency period starting from 1 March 2009;
  • New entrants who gain their initial competence award, one of CIWM/WAMITAB‘s new competence qualifications, after 22 December 2008 will have to demonstrate their continuing competence within the second two-year period starting on 1 March 2011;
  • Deemed competent individuals will have to demonstrate their continuing competence within the two-year period starting on 1 March 2009;
  • EA assessed individuals, these fall into two categories:

(i) individuals who passed an EA assessment for a non-CoTC activity prior to 1st March 2009 will be expected to complete a continuing competence assessment between the period 1 March 2009 and 1 March 2011;
(ii) individuals who passed an EA assessment to benefit from a 2 ‘year grace period and who obtain their competence qualification after 1st March 2009 will be expected to complete a continuing competence assessment during the 2′year period starting on 1 March 2011 and finishing 28 February 2013 i.e. they will skip the first cycle of continuing competence.

How long is my continued competence valid for?

Competence periods are fixed 2-year periods* not two years from the date of achievement. The actual start of the first two year period was 1 March 2009 and anybody passing the test will receive a certificate dated 28 February 2011 which is when it expires. After that date the individual will have to pass another test between 1 March 2011 and 28 February 2013 which will remain valid until 28 February 2013.

*In considering the Continuing Competence period, one year was considered too short to be resetting objectives/tests and subsequent learning for candidates. A three year period was considered too long to wait for confirmation that changes had been absorbed. To be pragmatic CIWM/WAMITAB proposed a 2 year competence period especially while the pace of legislation/policy change in this sector remains high.

How will Continuing Competence be demonstrated?

In order to continue to be ‘competent’ individuals will need to have successfully completed a Continuing Competency’test’ before the end of the competency period. The method for this will be computer based and delivered through a suite of ‘independent test centres’ across the UK.

Proof of identity, either a valid passport or photo-card driving licence, will be required before taking the test. Following the test candidates will be issued with a test report confirming that he/she has taken the test at an approved centre. Those successfully meeting the requirements will be issued with a CIWM/WAMITAB Continuing Competence Certificate, for the appropriate risk tier, which will be dated and will expire at the end of the 2 year period. This will enable competent individuals to demonstrate this to both the Regulator and other interested parties.

What is the format for the test and what does it cover?

The format for the tests is based on a question and multiple choice answers; the questions cover two aspects, a generic section, which is common to all competences, and an ‘activity-specific’ section, for example, landfill, treatment or transfer. If the person holds more than one competence award and wants to maintain all their competencies then they will have to choose multiple, ‘activity specific options’.

The syllabi for the tests are published and will allow individuals to undertake activities to obtain the necessary knowledge, skills etc in any way that is appropriate to their specific needs. This could include an organisation’s own in-house training or coaching programme, 3rd party training courses (such as ADL Environmental Ltd’s Continuing Competence course) or self learning e.g. via the internet. In other words gaining the required knowledge will be a self-managed process. This takes into account that everyone will have a different starting point, different learning preferences, different time and budget constraints etc.

The test encompasses 20 questions for the generic part (covering legislation, safety and environment protection) and a further 6 questions for the activity specific elements/options, depending on how many are chosen. The total ‘test time’ allowed will be a maximum of one hour. Fees for the test are available on the ‘test booking’ section of this web site and will be paid by credit or debit card card at the time of booking. Individuals will know the total cost of the test at the time of booking, which will depend on the number of activity-specific options chosen.

How will I know if I have been successful?

Candidates will need to correctly answer a minimum of 50% of the questions in the generic section and 50% of the questions in each option(s) chosen, and achieve an overall pass mark of 65%. In the early stages of the Continuing Competence scheme you will be notified by WAMITAB shortly after the test if you have been successful or not. Eventually it is planned that candidates will be informed of their results on the day of the test.

How much will it cost?

The following costs are effective from 1 March 2009 and will be regularly reviewed based on operating experience.

The cost for each test will reflect on how many competencies you are wishing to maintain, which will dictate how many activity specific options are chosen. The total cost comprises a charge for the Generic section (£90) and £10 for each option chosen. For example, a person with one competence to maintain will be charged £100, for two competencies (£110) etc etc. The maximum number of options which can be completed in one test is four.

The cost for a re-test is the same as above.