Certification body, CompEx, has unveiled the Recognised Practitioners Programme (RPP), an updated version of the Gas and Vapour Refresher (Ex01R – Ex04R) qualification.

The updated training and assessment programme, which will be available from September, is for experienced electrical and instrument technicians who already work in hazardous areas and want to recertify their competence under the CompEx scheme. Practitioners are required to recertify every five years, in line with the requirements of IEC 60079-17.

Practitioners who have previously completed the five-day core practitioner course Gas and Vapours (Ex01 – Ex04) but do not regularly work in hazardous areas are advised to retake the full course rather than the updated refresher programme.

The RPP is the result of extensive stakeholder consultation and feedback. Over the last 12 months the CompEx team has undertaken a fundamental review of the scope, learning outcomes and design of assessments. This review follows other changes made to the refresher programme in 2020 and 2021.

The main update to the RPP relates to the equipment selection part of the online assessment. In the current version, a learner selects appropriate equipment, cable glands and accessories against a range of installation scenarios.

The new equipment selection assessment radically simplifies and standardises the question structure by including a more familiar multi-choice question format into most of the questions. Candidates will no longer need to refer to a separate reference booklet to answer questions. The new assessment significantly reduces the number of separate choices a candidate must make in the 70 minutes allowed. These changes mean that the overall test burden has been reduced whilst maintaining rigour, validity, and reliability of the assessment and ensuring that candidates are able to demonstrate the key knowledge that underpins competence.

One participant of the pilot programme commented, “the complexity of the selection questions has been reduced but [it] still maintains the objectives of the assessment.” Whilst another said, “questions are relevant to the subject and have a sufficient level of technicality.”

Huw Bement, Director of CompEx, said: “Our job at CompEx is to ensure that we enable practitioners to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing valid, reliable and rigorous assessments. Our competency certification scheme must be credible and trusted by industry. That’s why I am determined that we always listen to feedback from employers, practitioners, and our training providers. Reflecting on the previous refresher programme it was clear that there were some areas that needed to be improved. As part of the review we piloted these revised assessments with our training partners and industry representatives.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve made sure that we have the right mix of expertise in the team, by including both assessment design and hazardous area subject specialists. We are implementing a continuous development plan for our qualifications so that our stakeholders have confidence in the scheme.”