Geoscientist Competencies

Geoscientists Canada, the peak body which brings together the individual, provincial bodies responsible for the progressional registration of geoscientists and engineers on geoscience issues is considering defining the core competencies required of geoscientists for registration.  Geoscientists must be registered in Canada in order to practice as professionals where the exercise of independent judgement is central to their work.  Unlike Australia, registration is required for many professions in Canada where it is seen as a means of ensuring professionals have appropriate levels of education and knowledge of the principles of ethical practice, demonstrated by completing an examination.  What is regarded by many as the textbook for engineering and examination candidates, Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics by Gordon C. Andrews was reviewed recently on this site and provides an informative description of how the Canadian registration process evolved.

The majority of regulated professions in Canada have developed, or are developing, competency profiles.  There are perceived to be a number of benefits, specifically with geoscience:

  • It describes the work that geoscientists can undertake and the services they provide to society on a daily basis;
  • It explains the scope of the work of geoscientists to employers, clients, other professions, government and the general public;
  • It provides enhanced clarity regarding what licensure represents— for applicants, referees, validators, assessors, Fairness Commissioners and others involved in admission to geoscience as a regulated profession;
  • It gives prospective applicants a clearer vision of their likelihood of becoming licensed;
  • It provides a firm foundation from which to later develop competency-based assessment tools for potential use in admissions into the profession;
  • It can be used to create stronger and more direct links between education and practice; and,
  • It sets a transparent and objective benchmark for admissions and potentially for other purposes – such as: continuing competency, practice guidance and disciplinary matters.

Geoscientists across Canada were asked to complete a survey to provide feedback on the draft profile which has been under development over the past 18 months and the competency profile is expected to be completed in Q3 2014.

Is this something that would benefit geoscientists in Australia?  In Australia, there is no requirement for professional registration in order to practice as a geoscientist.  The voluntary registration schemes operated by AIG (RPGeo Programme) and AusIMM are designed to provide assurance that registered geoscientists have demonstrated impeccable ethical standards and are committed to undertaking continued professional development.  Would specification of competencies required of professionally registered geoscientists, or even all geoscientists admitted to membership of AIG, help to improve the public perception and standing of our profession?

Have your say by posting a comment here or on the AIG Linkedin group page.  The consultation draft of the Competency Profile for Canadian geoscientists is available for review  here.  Canadian Geoscience Competency Profile, Consultation Draft, Apr 30 2014

Andrew Waltho


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