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Today, safety critical competencies are a priority for employers across diverse industries – from offshore oil and gas to maritime shipping and renewables.  Faced with increasing legal liabilities – both legislative and contractual – employers in many high-risk operations require much more than a certificate to provide evidence that an individual is technically competent to do the job or perform a specific task.

Experienced employers also recognise that competence can diminish over time, and that there is increasing risk of competence failures in the gap between initial basic training and refresher training. This gap represents real operational risk, and in response, they recognise that a robust process for managing competence is required.

In this article, we explore how the combined expertise of the Competence Management Team at RelyOn Nutec and the Technical Team at Aberdeen Drilling School continues to offer our clients truly relevant, customisable and sustainable competence management solutions for well operations worldwide.

With decades of experience behind us, we know that a one-size-fits-all approach is impractical and unworkable. We work alongside RelyOn Nutec’s Competence Management Team and in partnership with our clients to ensure our solutions are tailored to the needs of the business and employees. We begin by assessing current levels of competence in well operations, working with clients to conduct an audit of existing competence frameworks and discussing the challenges they’re experiencing. We then work with the management team and the well control team to design a bespoke and fit-for-purpose competence management solution.


Competence is defined as the ability to complete a task successfully, efficiently and safely, while following procedures. In practical terms it is a combination of skills informed by both knowledge and experience.

However, it is important that experience is not seen just as a simple measure of time in the job – it is the quality and the frequency of the experiences that a person has had during their time in the role that brings real value in terms of competence development – and this will include the frequency and quality of training experiences that they’ve had.


The assurance or confirmation of competence can be defined as a process designed to ensure that individuals are fully competent to safely operate equipment or efficiently perform the task they are asked to undertake. In high risk roles, the assurance of an individual’s safety critical competencies is clearly vital regardless of whether they are managers, supervisors, employees or contractors.

A robust competence assurance process will help to reduce the risks associated with people, processes and procedures during well operations. It better protects your installation or vessel and helps to maintain legal compliance, delivering an enhanced duty of care.


The initial audit process is designed to establish whether a company can effectively measure workforce competence. Our audits are robust, thorough, and carried out by a team of highly experienced industry professionals. This provides the detail required to tailor a competence management solution to your long-term needs.

Some of the typical questions we would ask when we’re reviewing your approach to competence management include:

Do you have an effective system for managing workforce competence?

What are the challenges you have with carrying out workforce competency assessments?

What business benefits do you have from managing your current workforce competency system?

When was it last reviewed and updated in line with current best practices?

Does your competency framework meet the company’s current business needs?


Following an audit, we are able to propose a tailored, integrated competence management solution that measures competence through all aspects of your internal business processes – from recruitment through training and development, to performance review and ongoing competence assurance.

To illustrate a fully integrated approach to competence management, below is a brief summary of the work scope on a recent competence project for an international drilling contractor:

  • Developing 26 job role competence profiles for the Onshore Rig Manager & Maintenance Leads and the Offshore Drilling & Maintenance teams
  • Developing technical interview questions to support recruitment, promotion, internal transfer, induction and onboarding derived from the job role key competencies
  • Creating documentation for recording the outcome of screening procedures
  • Revising key procedures
  • Facilitating familiarisation sessions with internal stakeholders
  • Facilitating process compliance review checklists
  • Supporting implementation
  • Ongoing consultancy with compliance checks

The outcome on this project was a robust Competence Management System, integrated with internal HR processes, providing an objective measure of workforce competence throughout each stage of each employee’s professional career.

This provided a platform for effective resource management, for defining individual career progression pathways as well as succession planning, and for realising efficiency savings through tailored training – while ensuring that the company continues to meet all regulatory compliance.


Our tailored approach to competence management provides a unique opportunity to align competence more closely with internal processes, policies, procedures and site-specific equipment. By assessing the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and teams, and working directly to rectify shortcomings, we can help you to develop individual capability, ultimately building highly skilled and safe teams.

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