Competence assurance is taking on an increasingly important role at Fugro

As a leader in offshore survey, offshore geotechnical and seabed geophysical services Fugro expect to see competence management playing an increasingly important role in the offshore industry.

Julian Nelson, Manager Operations – Personnel Resources, Fugro GB (North) Marine Limited, and a member of the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) Competence & Training Committee, explains why he believes competence management is a valuable tool, alongside the traditional CV.

Based in Aberdeen, Julian joined Fugro in 1989 and worked offshore as a Surveyor before progressing to the role of Party Chief and Offshore Vessel Manager, specialising in geophysical and construction support projects. Julian moved onshore in 2006 and took on his current role as Manager Operations, responsible for the field staff involved in Survey and ROV operations.

Robust system

Through his experience and work with IMCA it was clear that the market was changing and that it required a more ‘robust system to assess the competence of freelance individuals’, rather than relying purely on CVs.

“While a CV outlines a person’s experience, it does not demonstrate competence.” He gives the example that a CV can sometimes simply list equipment or software on a project. “Having worked offshore, I know that if a Sub-Bottom Profiler is mentioned on a Surveyor’s CV, it is unlikely that the individual has the appropriate competence or experience with this equipment.” 

This gap in the adequate assessment of freelancers led to the development of the IMCA freelance e-portfolio, which was made available for offshore survey roles in April. 

More than a list

Julian explains: “By introducing this competence assurance and assessment tool it is possible for individuals to demonstrate that they are competent in carrying out the tasks that they are required to perform pertinent to their role”. 

Additionally, competence has a validity period. Julian adds “Just because a person was competent five years ago doesn’t necessarily mean they are now.  For example, within an individual’s portfolio I would expect to see evidence in support of their continual development. They need to engage to ensure that companies have the most relevant and latest information with regard to their competence and abilities.”

Julian emphasises that a competence assurance programme is not only important for the contracting companies and personnel agencies but is also vital for the freelance individual themselves. For example, this puts freelancers on more of a level playing field with an employee of a company. He adds “This system allows the freelance individual to provide evidence to validate competence, and also seek assessment to close out any potential competence gaps, just as an employee would get the chance to do. As a result, the contracting company, agency and individual them self is assured that ‘they can do what it says on the tin!’”.

Similar IMCA material for ROV is being prepared for release and from Fugro’s point of view the company will be looking to roll this out to ROV freelance personnel when it becomes available.

“I don’t think we will be alone in this. When looking to engage freelance individuals across these disciplines we will expect to see a competence portfolio, together with a CV.”

Competence portfolio

Julian expects to see competence management more wildly embraced in the freelance sector and acknowledges that Atlas has made real strides in this area with its own Competence Programme and with internal verifiers in place.

“In a few years’ time I am optimistic that we will see freelance individuals, personnel agencies and contracting companies engaged to the extent that this will be the norm. I am conscious that this is relatively new and I have no doubt that some companies that work within the offshore survey sector remain unaware of what has been developed. I believe however, that indirectly there will be a certain amount of pressure and expectation to use these tools to ‘capture’ individuals and companies that are yet to come aboard.”

For further information on the Atlas Competence Programme contact Dingena Peddie-Theunisse at