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Inspection, test & monitoring:  A choice of career development pathways

20 May 2013

There are highly rewarding careers in non-destructive testing and condition monitoring yet there are not enough entrants into the profession to replace those who are retiring and to meet increased demand. Here, Matt Gallagher, director for Education and Professional Development with The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) outlines the Institute's involvement in a number of career development pathways

Since 2007 the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing has been supporting the development of a new integrated professional development programme for NDT and Condition Monitoring. The main purpose of the programme is to provide flexible and connected pathways – linking work-based learning, apprenticeships and CPD with vocational qualifications (certification), academic awards and professional engineer registration.


The new NDT degree programmes are delivered by distance learning. This provides substantial flexibility and enables students to study at any location with internet access. Currently there are students working towards a degree while offshore or overseas. For new entrants into the profession distance learning means that they can be employed while studying – which means that they are not building up student debts and are able to gain valuable work experience.


There are various entry routes into the programme. School leavers will need typical university entry qualifications. Those with NDT certification can gain entry without meeting academic prerequisites. Certification also earns exemptions from some modules through accreditation of prior learning (APL). Those without university level entry qualifications or valid vocational certification (eg PCN) will have the opportunity to embark on an apprenticeship programme which starts with a one year college-based course on general engineering followed by work-based NDT training.


NDT professional development qualification matrix 

The qualification matrix provides a graphical illustration of a flexible programme where equivalences, exemption routes and different entry points are provided. The aim is that no one with the necessary ambition is excluded. Entrants can come straight from school with A-level qualifications or through the vocational route with PCN certification at levels 1, 2 or 3.



  Work based

   Vocational

Academic

   Professional

    NQF 

    equivalent


          CPD

          Experiential Learning

          Apprenticeships


Engineering Doctorate


      8


Masters 

degree

   Chartered 

   Engineer

      7


BSc NDT

   Incorporated  

   Engineer

      6

PCN 3

FdScNDT

Stage 2

      5

      4

PCN 2

PCN 1

FdScNDT

Stage 1

   Engineering

   Technician

      3

                                          SCHOOL LEAVER OR OTHER ENTRY LEVEL


NDT degree programme content.

The Foundation Degree in NDT (FdScNDT) is equivalent to two thirds of a full bachelor degree programme. By distance learning students without any accreditation of prior learning (APL) would typically take four years to complete the degree. Entrants who have held certification in NDT can be exempted from some of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 modules. 


FdScNDT graduates are eligible to enter the BSc(Hons)NDT top-up course. Candidates with PCN or ASNT Level 3 certification in four appropriate methods may be granted direct entry into the BSc(Hons)NDT programme, which includes modules on vibration analysis, infra-red thermography, corrosion analysis and advanced NDT methods


Pathways to professional registration

The Institute has agreed, with the Engineering Council, specific education pathways to registration as an Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer. PCN certification in NDT and CM methods at level 2 has been aligned with Engineering Technician and PCN certification in NDT and CM methods at level 3 has been aligned with Incorporated Engineer. Anyone wishing information on these pathways should contact the Institute’s membership department,


Partnership with industry

A key element for attracting school leavers into an NDT training and education programme is the availability of work placements. The British Institute of NDT is encouraging UK industry to offer suitable placements. The Institute is also considering establishing bursaries and funded internships for selected trainees.


Continuing Professional Development

Another key element of the programme is high quality material for continuing professional development (CPD). Flexible delivery provides a variety of access points, online or through lectures in different locations. Material will be produced from accredited texts including published papers on the most recent developments.


Those registered for the CPD programme will be provided with their own web space within the Institute’s web-site. This can be used for logging CPD and work experience. The CPD programme will be designed to satisfy ongoing professional registration requirements as well as certification renewal.


Planned new features of the integrated programme

The equivalence already established, and illustrated in the earlier table for vocational qualifications, academic awards and professional registration could logically be extended to include a new Level 4 certification pathway to engineer level competency. 


The technical scope of the Foundation and BSc degrees is to be broadened into Condition Monitoring and standalone distance-learning foundation and bachelor degrees in Condition Monitoring are also being considered.


Future developments may include campus-based BEng and MEng degrees in Inspection & Test Technologies (ITT).  The BEng programme will include opportunities for work experience during vacations as well as specific training towards certification. 


 An apprenticeship programme is being developed in conjunction with the UK’s Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). This will provide an entry level for 16 to 18 year olds. Younger entrants will attend a one year college-based general engineering course before embarking on the work-based NDT training programme. It is hoped that the first apprentices will be recruited to start in September this year.


The new University Technical College (technical school for 14 to 19 year olds) being built at Silverstone, Northamptonshire will have NDT and materials testing in its curriculum. It is hoped that in the future this material will be made available to mainstream schools.


With the developments being considered it is possible that the qualification matrix will look more like the table below.



   Work based

   Vocational

     Academic

   Professional

   NQF 

   equivalent


        CPD

        Experiential Learning

        Apprenticeships


    Engineering 

    Doctorate


           8


    Masters

    degree

   Chartered

   Engineer

           7

  Certificated 

  Engineer

    BSc NDT

    CM, ITT

   Incorporated

   Engineer

           6

   PCN 3

    FdScNDT

    Stage 2

           5

           4

   PCN 2

   PCN 1

    FdScNDT

    Stage 1

   Engineering

   Technician

           3

                                 SCHOOL LEAVER OR OTHER ENTRY LEVEL




Education Committee


To assist with the development of the integrated programme the Institute has established an Education Committee to oversee and undertake a number of tasks including:


•  Working with higher and further education bodies in the design of inspection and test technologies (including NDT and CM) education programmes.


•  Liaising with academics and researchers in identifying research material that is suitable for education purposes.


•  Commissioning the writing of education and training material.


•  Liaising with industry bodies in identifying current and future education and training needs.


•  Liaising with the Institute’s professional registration committee (Engineering Council Working Group) to help ensure that education and training provision satisfies professional registration standards.


•  Generating, classifying and maintaining an online library of academic, education and training material.


•  Managing the Institute’s Initial and Continuing Professional Development programmes.


For more information on the Institute’s education and professional development programmes please contact Matt Gallagher    HYPERLINK "mailto:matt.gallagher@bindt.org" matt.gallagher@bindt.org


 
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