Europe adopts the Cogent Gold Standard Competency Framework for the Chemical Industry

At a landmark conference in Brussels Framework Agreement on Education, Training and Lifelong Learning, which took place on Friday 15 April 2011, The European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG) and the European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation (EMCEF) signed a ground-breaking agreement on job competences and training covering the chemical sector in all 27 European Union countries.

The agreement will see European take up of the Cogent Gold Standard, a competency framework for job roles in the process industries which sets the skills benchmark for world class performance. Cogent, the UK Skills Council for the chemical industry, developed the standard with cross-industry input.

The agreement the first of its type in the chemical industry and only the second across all European sectors related to training, education and lifelong learning – is a strong example of how the trade unions and employers in the chemical sector have worked to help businesses and workforces through the global economic crisis and build a platform for sustainable growth.

Future needs for good training and skilled employees in times of demographic changes and an ageing workforce was one of the drivers in the negotiation of this agreement. Anticipating demographic risks and preparing to tackle this challenge is a key issue for the future of a sustainable European chemical industry.

Reinhard Reibsch, Secretary General of EMCEF said, “This agreement is a further sign of the importance that a well qualified workforce plays for science-based production and the chemical industry as a whole.”

Simon Marsh, Employment and Communications Director of the CIA and Chair of ECEG said, “The agreement will help to deliver a commitment to a Gold Standard level of competence across Europe.”

John Holton, Cogent Strategy Director, who attended the meeting, added, “The value of the Cogent Gold Standard was instantly apparent; management competency for a first line supervisor was identified as a skills gap by many countries and they are now planning training programmes to close this gap.”

The EU Directorate has suggested that the group now consider establishing a European Skills Council for the Chemical sector following the successful work to date.

More about the Gold Standard

Using the Gold Standard framework employers can be confident employees' skills are being developed to an industry standard, leading to improved productivity and enhanced performance. Each Gold Standard job role describes and maps the competencies required. The framework covers a wide range of roles from Level 2 to professional status, across four areas of competence:

  • Technical Competence
  • Compliance
  • Business Improvement
  • Functional and Behavioural

Companies who have made a commitment to progressing through the Gold Standard are invited to place their logo on Cogent's website 'Roll of Honour' to showcase their commitment to world class skills.

About the agreement

The Gold Standard agreement was negotiated by Simon Marsh and Alan McGuckin of Unite the Union and represents a major step forward in establishing European competency standards. The 27 countries of the European Union will initially use the Gold Standard competency framework for process operator and first line supervisor job roles in the chemical sector, moving onto other roles in due course. This will ensure that individuals undertake training and qualifications that provide them with the right skills and competence for the job.

About Cogent

Cogent is the Sector Skills Council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries. It has recently taken on sectoral responsibility for bioscience. It is the voice of employers in these industry sectors and is working with them to design qualifications; attract young people into the Sector and understand their needs through comprehensive research. Cogent currently represents the interests of a sector which employs around 900,000 people in high value jobs and indirectly supports around three times as many.

The world-leading science-based industries in the Cogent footprint have a turnover of £200bn – greater than all government spend on health and education. The industries rely on a constant supply of high level skills, especially in science and engineering, to ensure innovation and growth in energy, advanced process technology and biotechnology.

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