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Offshore Support Journal

How to ensure subcontractors and fulltime staff work to the same standards

Wed 13 Mar 2019 by Andre Rose, IMCA technical adviser

How to ensure subcontractors and fulltime staff work to the same standards

Permanent and non-permanent staff can sing off the same safety hymn sheet, says IMCA technical adviser Andre Rose

Freelance professionals have long been a vital resource when manning offshore projects, whether we are considering diving, marine, survey or ROV operations. Without the freelancer, contracting companies would have to recruit and retain many more staff, at significant additional cost. 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 while at the same time assuring client confidence, it is of paramount importance that the competence of the freelance professional is assessed and verified against criteria used for full-time company employees.

IMCA's freelance competence e-portfolio scheme is designed to ensure that all team members are working to the same standards and that everyone involved in the freelance employment process benefits.

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.

In early 2018, the scheme was developed and released for use by survey freelancers, and in November 2018, it was expanded to include ROV freelance professionals. As the scheme is rolled out and results come in, the reduction in paperwork and the transition from freelance engagement based on CV assessment alone should result in reduced delays and expedited application process times, again offering benefits to employers and freelancers, alike.

And development of this theme continues within IMCA. Because of the e-portfolio, 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.

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.

IMCA's 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 provided free of charge by IMCA and full details can be found on the IMCA website.

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