- This article was originally written by Mr. Peter Goedendorp, Director of TCC TRAININGEN, for the EJWI Yearbook 2020.
Given the current squeeze on the labour market and the declining levels of professional skills amongst personnel, filling job vacancies is a serious issue across large parts of Europe.
When filling job vacancies for projects (including turnarounds), it is particularly difficult to find the minimum required numbers of skilled professional staff for carrying out the work.
Developments over the last few years have meant that a large part of the workforce needed is being mobilised from nearby countries and even from outside Europe.
In addition to the communication issues, the big challenge is to set the quality standards and the necessary safety awareness per person.
Certificates able to demonstrate this for individuals are often hard to come by and very difficult to check when in terms of content and assurance.
Industrial cleaning too is facing the same problems on the job market today, but in addition to shortages of professional skills, this sector has an additional challenge for the future, namely automation of the working process.
Automated cleaning processes
In several European countries, the introduction of automated working processes in the cleaning sector is slowly but surely taking hold.
To achieve this situation in various other countries in Europe as well, an active role and an intensive collaboration are required with asset owners who endorse this strategy.
International and regional and initiatives with that objective (such as EWJI, SIR, S3C, DIRV, WJA, ALTAP, the Scandinavian Waterjet Association, etc.) are crucial if that situation is to be achieved.
Active participation of asset owners in these initiatives will affect the form that the schedule of requirements takes, so that effective implementation of the corresponding practical norms and guidelines in various countries becomes possible.
To set up a flexible labour market and to make it possible to exchange skilled professionals between various countries in Europe, introducing these norms and guidelines is very much needed if the requisite skilled staff are to be made mobile.
Certificates for individuals
To keep this situation simpler and better structured, a validated certificate is essential (perhaps one that is recognised throughout Europe), ensuring that professional skills and safety awareness can be determined at the European level.
To achieve this and to exert an influence on all the key details throughout the chain, participation in the above-mentioned bodies that aim to achieve these goals is now an absolute ‘must’ rather than a question of choice.
For validate certificates for individual people, it is very important that the ‘value’ of the certificate, as it were, can be determined.
The question is then what the norm gives as the candidate’s minimum level of active knowledge, both in terms of professional skills and safety awareness.
To allow this to be determined, defined guidelines are indispensable for the training, final test and test criteria for the examinations taken.
The concepts of the “guidelines and final test and test criteria” give the framework within which subjects have been dealt with in the training as well as stating how (theoretically or practically) and what type of examination was used to examine the material studied.
Once this data is available, it will be possible to compare certificates from different countries within Europe.
This makes it possible to determine what knowledge candidates possess and whether that corresponds to the standards in the country where the candidate is employed.
As stated earlier, it is particularly important that the knowledge the candidates have at their fingertips should be defined using guidelines and final tests and test criteria.
Comparing the guidelines and the final test criteria against each other allows a ‘gap analysis’ to be drawn up. That gap analysis can then be used to determine (in terms of the guidelines) what elements the candidate has not been instructed in. Additional training is then required in those aspects so that the candidate can carry out the work at the correct level, not only in terms of quality but above all in terms of safety.
Database in the future
To get an overview of the various certificates from different European countries and to keep things transparent, it is essentially indispensable that an overarching database should be set up to record information such as guidelines, final tests and test criteria plus a gap analysis for each European country.
It seems obvious that initiatives such as the EWJI could play an important coordinating role in this.
This could be an important link in the chain in future for safely making the European labour market for industrial cleaning more flexible.