Building standards - digital competency assessment system: options appraisal
Options appraisal report on the development of a digital competency assessment system for building standards professionals in local government.
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1.1 Purpose of this document
1. The purpose of this report is to present a review and assessment of options for the delivery and ongoing maintenance of a Digital Competency Assessment System (CAS) for building standards verifiers.
1.2 Project Purpose
1. Storm ID was commissioned by Building Standards Division to undertake an options appraisal between 09 January 2023 to 16 March 2023 for a digital Competency Assessment System (CAS) for verifiers. The aim of this project is to evaluate options in order to develop a Digital CAS that will meet user and business needs and give a recommendation on the best option for the Digital CAS.
2. Our objectives are:
- Gain a deeper understanding of user needs in order to identify features that should be in the Digital CAS
- Consider assessment criteria for technical options
- Evaluate technical options using assessment criteria to inform a final recommendation
Building Standards System
1. The Building (Scotland) Act 2003 established the building standards system in Scotland. The 32 Local Authorities (LAs) in Scotland are appointed by Scottish Ministers as verifiers to administer the building standards system in their geographical areas. Their appointment is conditional on local authority verifiers meeting the requirements of the Operating Framework and Performance Framework.
2. The verifier's primary function is to protect public interest by providing an independent check of building warrant applications at both the design and construction stages. A building warrant must be obtained before any work commences on site. Furthermore, a completion certificate must be granted by a verifier if they are satisfied the building work has been carried out in accordance with the building warrant and building regulations.
3. Verifiers are expected to operate under the Building Standards Verification Performance Framework which covers the following three perspectives:
- Professional Expertise and Technical Processes
- Quality Customer Experience
- Operational and Financial Efficiency
4. The perspectives are supplemented by three themes: Public Interest; Continuous Improvement; and Partnership Working.
5. The workforce strategy for the building standards verification service was published on 01 October 2020 and is being implemented over a three-year period. The aim of the strategy is to increase operational resilience of the building standards service. It sets out national and local commitments and actions to strengthen the skills and competence of the workforce, and attract, recruit and retain people in essential job roles.
6. The strategy has four themes related to national and local commitments:
- A sustainable workforce
- A skilled workforce
- A professional framework
- A profession for everyone
7. There are five delivery projects to support a coherent approach to delivery with partners:
- Implement the Competency Assessment System
- Promoting the Building Standards Profession
- Implementing a Professional Competency Framework
- Developing Vocational Pathways
- Developing a Learning and Development Hub
8. The Workforce Data Collection Analysis Report 2021 found demand for building standards verifier job roles is increasing slightly, however there has been no significant change to the size of the workforce. Therefore, the increasing levels of demand are currently not being met. Over the next three years, the workforce is expected to have a shortfall of resourcing levels. Effective recruitment and succession planning are necessary to grow the workforce.
9. New people need to be brought into the building standards profession and career progression opportunities need to be highlighted to existing staff. The Professional Competency Framework (PCF) for verifiers and the Competency Assessment System (CAS) are key parts of the workplace strategy to resolve the issues identified in the report.
Professional Competency Framework (PCF) and Competency Assessment System (CAS)
10. The PCF and CAS were launched on 12 May 2021. Verifiers use the CAS to assess their building standards competencies and identify skill gaps that can be improved through education and training. The current version of the CAS comprises a large referencing PDF handbook setting out the competency requirements across different job levels, and an accompanying spreadsheet toolkit to help assess and record skill gaps for the job holder and their manager. The CAS requires the verifier and their manager to work together to determine the verifier's competency levels and identify any skill gaps. A feedback exercise of this first version of the CAS ran from June to mid-December 2022.
11. The main findings of CAS Feedback Exercise Report (December 2022) were:
- Considerable time is required to complete the process; it is extremely difficult to balance day to day work as well as complete the CAS
- There is a strong preference for the CAS and toolkit to be an interactive, dynamically populated, online system to reduce the time needed for completion
- A useful feature would be to include links to relevant training opportunities
- The PCF document was considered fit for purpose
12. In order to address some of the issues raised in the report, Storm ID carried out research into options for a Digital CAS that would simplify and speed up the overall process.
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