ALGA Training & Education Position Paper

1      Introduction

The Contaminated Land Industry in Australia & New Zealand is diverse and consists of contaminated land consultants, remediation and earthworks contractors, researchers and academia as well as local, state and/or federal regulators, legal practitioners and other service industry people. ALGA is uniquely positioned within the industry to provide training and education as its members represent each industry sector either as individual members and/or corporate partners.

ALGA has identified a need for further education and training beyond what is currently offered. In the first instance, this training need is to be directed towards the consulting industry, in line with the new accreditation schemes and personnel with consulting backgrounds or skills in other industry sectors such as contractor and legal practitioners. It is envisaged that the training needs of the other sectors of the contaminated land industry will be identified in the future.

This Position Paper outlines the ALGA vision for Training & Education within the consulting sector. It gives an outline of why training is required? What ALGA sees as the way forward and a plan to achieve the vision. The purpose of the Position Paper is to allow for further stakeholder engagement with a view to implement a wider training offering in 2019.

2      Background

Consulting in contaminated land in both Australia & New Zealand has grown exponentially over the last 20 years as has regulatory control, the number of consultancies and sophistication of assessment and remedial strategies and technologies. There are now two accreditation schemes (CEnvP SCS recognised in ANZ and CPSS only recognised in Australia), developed and endorsed. For Australia this is a direct result of recommendations made in the ASC NEPM April 2013 amendment.

Over the last 10 years there has been a trend of amalgamation and growth of large multi-disciplinary consulting companies, some employing over 10,000 employees. At the other end of the scale, downsizing and restructuring has led to an increase in smaller consultancies (many less than 20 employees) who have quickly filled a void in the market place for more cost effective assessment and remedial solutions.

What has not kept pace with these industry changes is the training and education necessary for the industry to maintain and improve standards into the future. Accreditation has arrived but the benchmarks against which an applicant are judged to be competent currently rely on experience and on the candidate demonstrating competency through verbal and written responses, verified by referees.

3      External Factors Impacting on Current Training Models

ALGA does not believe that there is an issue with the quality of existing training modules available to the consulting sector through industry associations or educational institutions. On the contrary some have been developed and run by industry experts and are high quality and up to date. The identified limitations are mainly external and affect the way the training is offered and taken up by the industry.

Some of these external factors include:

·      Irregularity of training offerings and lack of consistency on topics.

·      Location format, cost and timing of courses offered.

·      Training is not specifically linked to the competencies as set down by the accreditation schemes.

·      The accreditation schemes and the ASC NEPM do not deal with or assess competence in the application of remediation methods;   

·      Lack of provision of foundational skills in the physical sciences 

4      ALGA Preferred Approach to Training

ALGA believes that we need training run by the industry for the industry. The type of training offered needs to be flexible and better aligned to the limitations that most in the industry face – time and money. We want to provide affordable training that is aligned to the accreditation schemes and the listed competencies.

Industry representatives are spread throughout Australia & New Zealand and consultants, contractors and regulators are found in all the capital cities and major regional centres. It is a fact that most training on offer is centralised where students are asked to attend courses in the major centres. This adds to cost for each consulting firm with travel and accommodation and time away from the office.

Below is the current thinking by ALGA and what is proposed as the basis of ALGA’s training and education scheme, which would go a long way to address the training needs of the industry:

•      Industry specific high quality training targeted at 0 to 5 years’ experience initially (Contaminated land 101), then later targeting 5 to 10 years’ experience (Contaminated land 102).

•      Subjects aligned with the competencies outlined within each accreditation scheme.

•      Further modules dealing with remediation methods and approaches not included in the ASC NEPM .

•      Flexibility in training methods and locations (20 - 30 minute on line courses for instance) which would better suit regional consultancies rather than rigid face to face training in a central location.

•      Subject matter experts / trained presenters (Certificate IV) from within the industry - to teach effectively you need student engagement.

•      Each module to be assessed by an exam (and a certificate) – these are not courses designed as information dumps but in equipping the student to perform his/her role competently.

•      A regular program that becomes fixed in the calendar – this should aid consultancies in being able to plan and organise staff.

•      Cost effective – designed to recover costs and not to make money - designed to make a better industry.

5      Where to from Here?

The most important step in aligning training to industry needs is stakeholder engagement. ALGA is committed to better understanding the industry needs and discussing widely in the contaminated land community. Obviously without industry buy-in the training programme is likely to be short lived. 

To this end we have recently placed an article in August 2018 CRONICLE looking for feedback from staff with under 5 years’ experience and we have presented our ideas at a breakfast hosted pre-EcoForum Conference in October 2018 to a select audience. This Position Paper is seen as an important step in stakeholder engagement and outlines our vision and how we plan to see the vision take shape. 

These are only the initial steps.  What we would like to see happen from here is agreement from stakeholders, representative groups, accreditation schemes and individual practitioners that:

1. Current training programmes are not effectively servicing the industry and increasing consultant competencies; and

2. An alternative training model is needed. 

We would envisage that the stakeholders would come together for the good of the industry to help ALGA develop the training programme that will benefit our industry into the future and continue to provide a career path for talented individuals.

Over the next five to ten years there is the potential that the industry could lose a collective 500 to 600 years of consulting and contractor knowledge as people retire from the industry. These people have been the lifeblood of the industry and have been responsible for the high regard that this industry is held in the wider community.  

We need to give thought as to what comes next. How will we replace the loss of experience and how the industry continue to attract and keep talent? We need to be able to show the next generation that we are committed to providing the necessary foundational skills. We at ALGA believe that the best way to do this is through a recognised Training programme run by the industry for the industry.

We would appreciate your feedback, suggestions and ideas. Please contact Laurie Fox at education@landandgroundwater.com

ALGA Training & Education Position Paper

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