John McMorris
Director of Business Development
Scottish Qualifications Authority
View from the Top

Educational Experience To Help Drive Market Dynamism

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 20:04

Q: What have been the main areas of focus in the last year for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in Mexico?

A: In the last year, SQA has been working to accredit the IMP as an approved SQA center and deliver qualifications for workforce development. To do this, our technical experts evaluate IMP against a range of criteria, including the quality and experience of teaching staff, the quality of facilities, the institute’s ability to conduct internal assessments and its ability to have a management structure in place. 

Q: What are the qualities that differentiate Scottish education providers from those of other nations?

A: Scotland has been providing oil and gas education and certification for a very long time. We have a mature technical and vocational education system in Scotland. All Scottish industries follow what is called an Integrated Qualification Framework, which ensures that learned pathways are welldefined and students receive a sound STEM education for entrance into colleges and universities. The standards are wellunderstood and there is a great deal of experience within companies that allows Scotland to provide a comprehensive educational system. 

Q: How prepared is Mexico to provide training and certification that meets the high demands of IOCs?

A: The building blocks are here. The focus for regulated authorities and certification bodies must be to institute the recognized standards that are present in Mexico’s other major industries. It is important that trainers and companies developing the labor market train workers to these standards. 

Q: Where in the value chain does this standardization need most work?

A: SQA is initially focusing on areas that include the processing of hydrocarbons and well operations. That said, any technical part of the profession requires that workers understand the technical aspects of the job, possess underpinning knowledge and can demonstrate they can carry out the main functions of the job competently and safely. This is the key aspect for a regulated and technical industry like oil and gas.

When it comes to ensuring competence, it is important to see training as an investment and not focus too heavily on what the cost is. The cost of having incompetent workers offshore or carrying out technical work is far greater than the price of training. 

Q: How is the role of certification and training changing as the industry becomes more influenced by technology?

A: Data will unlock many opportunities. Even maintenance regimes for a company’s asset will undoubtedly be improved via the expanded application of predictive data techniques and data mining. The maturity of this sector has changed many domains within training and certification and the industry must move with that.

But at the same time, we are seeing a definite emphasis on soft skills alongside the technical functional analysis of a job. Authorities like the SQA must prepare individuals to be more agile and creative to cope with the changes that are taking place in the job market. Training an engineer today requires teaching adaptability, as every industry is being disrupted. One industry can often learn from another’s experience, and the energy industry can look at sectors that may be further ahead to learn from their experiences. 

Q: What are the advantages of national initiatives for improving industry qualifications?

A: One of the advantages of a government initiative for developing a national qualifications framework is that it brings together all the groups from the education sector and acts as an enabler for the entire process. The other important point is that within the technical standards of engineering, renewables and oil and gas, there are many transferable skills, and with a framework this transfer is more easily achieved. This must be part of a qualification’s currency. There is no reason why a Mexican graduate engineer should not be able to work in renewables or rail infrastructure.


Scottish Qualifications Authority is a public yet independent organization. Its services range from course and center approval through customized awards, credit rating and licensing services.