Forward thinking initiatives win top marks

LAWE's special review of education and training across the wide spectrum of environmental and waste management disciplines reports on new initiatives within the academic and institutional sector, lists a cross-section of current courses and examines the active role of WRAP in training. A special contribution from Waste Watch makes the case for better funding of the teaching of waste issues in schools.

Legislation and economic factors are spurring new approaches to education and training across the environmental and waste industry sector.

The professional institutions have been leading the way in innovation. The CIEH has introduced a new route for graduates to pursue a career in environmental health. By agreeing to accredit graduate and post-graduate diplomas in environmental health the CIEH says it is “taking a new step forward with its education strategy.” The new routes are aimed at providing further opportunities for graduates from other disciplines to change their career and join the environmental health profession.
Universities are being given the opportunity by the CIEH to develop and seek accreditation of graduate and post-graduate courses in environmental health that meet the CIEH curriculum.

In another innovative move the Environment Agency last year launched a pioneering new foundation degree course to help meet the need for flood management engineers and address the widespread skills shortage in the engineering professions.
A first for the UK, the two-year Foundation Degree in Rivers and Coastal Engineering has been created and funded by the Environment Agency working partnership with the University of West England, Middlesex University and Bristol University.

Study of waste issues

The inter-action between academia and the waste and environmental sector, exemplified by the waste management courses run by a universities such as UC Northampton, was also underlined by two recent projects. In what is stated to be the first study of its kind in the UK, Cranfield University and Mouchel Parkman consultants are using computer models to support the London boroughs as they develop their sustainable waste management strategies.

Also in London, research carried out by the Open University (OU) and MORI Social Research Institute, found that residents of four London boroughs – Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth and Wandsworth – consider recycling a “good thing” to do but do not always act accordingly.

The overall objective of the research was to understand what makes people recycle. The work looked at three issues: general awareness and understanding; beliefs, attitudes and behaviours; and what people felt about service provision.

Vocational training

On the vocational front, the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB), established in 1989 to determine and advise on policy and standards of education, qualifications and training for employees in the waste management industry, continues to play a pivotal role in supervising the awards of qualifications and certificates in the sector.

In addition to its responsibilities as the Awarding Body for NVQs for the waste management industry and in issuing and controlling the Certificate of Technical Competence (COTC) scheme, more recently WAMITAB has developed occupational standards and vocational qualifications for waste management operatives involved with waste collection, landfill and treatment. Other areas covered include street cleansing, treatment (composting) and recycling activities.

WAMITAB cites a case study from the local authority sector which illustrates how a successful partnership on an NVQ programme can work. WAMITAB has been working very closely with the Waste Services section of Wakefield Council to support its NVQ programme.

The main function of the programme is to deliver the NVQ to meet the Waste Services management team’s requirements.
Achievements within the NVQ programme to date include, for example:

  • Centre award Accreditation
  • One D34 Internal Verifier award
  • Six WAMITAB NVQ awards
  • Self -authorisation Award Status
  • Five NVQ module completion Certificates issued (Internal)
  • Four Assessment Centres operational across district
  • New NVQ delivery method is operational and hitting targets
  • APSE award honours
  • The initial pilot run of “Wheel and Track” is scheduled to run into this next year, when a review will take place. Feedback from all concerned will be form part of the next run. Once completed the NVQ certificate is issued at the annual Civic awards ceremony at Wakefield Town Hall with awards being presented by the Lord Mayor.

    Speaking at the awards, Dr Lawrence Strong, Director General of WAMITAB, said:
    ” Wakefield should be congratulated on the very professional way they have introduced the programme. WAMITAB was keen to work with Wakefield and other councils to increase the uptake of vocational qualifications and to improve the competence of the Waste Services workforce”.

    Future NVQ programme

    The programme as a whole has immense potential and there are proposals for future development within the programme, which are:

  • Development of the advisory role
  • Construction of a second delivery wheel
  • Proposals for delivery at Transfer Stations
  • Increased activity and development of the four Assessment Centres
  • Proposals for a Modern Apprenticeship framework
  • An NVQ conference to be hosted by the Main centre
  • Increased input and linkage to Basic Skills
  • Development of existing NVQs to level 2
  • Development and monitoring of a case studies archive

    Paul Spawforth, NVQ Project Officer, said: “Wakefield Metropolitan District Council is proud to be associated with WAMITAB on this venture, the benefits of this relationship are being reflected in the high standard of workforce development being shown by all members of the NVQ team. This has only been possible with the guidance and clear direction from WAMITAB on the implementation and requirements of the Waste Management Industry NVQs”.

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