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verification of competency a new way of thinking v2
18.03.18    |  

Verification of Competency - A new way of thinking

18/03/2018 by Marcus Bathan - VHNZ Regional Manager

At Vertical Horizonz New Zealand (VHNZ), certain certificates/unit standards are issued with a "recommended refresher date". Whereas some training events are required to be 'refreshed' by law, including Certificates of Competence in Forklift and First Aid. Some training refreshers cannot be enforced but are strongly recommended by Industry Training Organisations (ITO), WorkSafe New Zealand, NZQA and most large worksite PCBU's.

Refresher training is training that re-trains and refreshes the knowledge of the trainee periodically after the initial training has taken place. These refresher periods are used to confirm and enhance an individual's knowledge and update them on any changes within that field. We know that the Health and Safety at Work Act requires risk to be managed as far as what is reasonably practicable; refresher training is a clear measure that reduces risk, so whether industry best practice or not, employers should be following recommended refresher dates to ensure they are managing and reducing risk to their employees.

We understand however that many individuals are constantly applying their skills at work so there is a greater likelihood of them retaining the majority of required skills and knowledge against the units. In this case, we do not need to re-train the worker and can simply challenge test them and perform a Verification of Competency (VOC) against your workplace procedures whilst performing the tasks that they are carrying out in your workplace.

Assessing for Verification of Competency enables businesses to confirm that their employees are competent in their skills and using the equipment. It can also be used for pre-employment checks, contractual arrangements or site requirements. This assists employers to meet their H&S requirements.

Of course, in the case where workers are not constantly applying their skills in a work context, we still recommend re-sitting (refreshing) the course in question. This allows us to re train, as a large amount of the core skills can be forgotten if not used enough in day to day work activities.

VOC's won't work for everybody and VHNZ can and still will run normal refresher training under the format that we have always done. Our public course offerings will remain the same as it is important that VOC's are run in the workplace against your organisation's workplace procedures.

The VOC offering is a formal process that allows for flexibility to meet client needs whilst maintaining a high standard of assessment. All of our VOC assessors are industry experts who hold all relevant qualifications combined with years of experience.


To undertake a VOC participants must provide that they hold the relevant NZQA standards prior to VOCs being conducted.

If students cannot provide their relevant NZQA certification they cannot undertake a VOC, however, we can offer full training and assessment.

Please note VOC's are not NZQA accredited & students receive a VOC certificate only. NZQA unit standards cannot be awarded at the successful completion of a VOC.


Example of a typical working at heights VOC.

Learning outcomes

· Update on Best Practice

· Update on any relevant standards

Verify competency of the following:

· Working at heights planning including job safety analysis

· Equipment Inspection and Fitting

· Establishing working at heights systems

· Disestablishing working at heights systems

· Rescue roles and responsibilities


The trainees will be practically and verbally challenged throughout the tasks at the work site.


Estimated time

1 hours theory (all trainees)

.5 hour job safety analysis

1.5 hours practical and oral assessment (conducted in max groups of 4)



NZQA Unit Standards 23229, 15757 and or 17600 and 25045 are pre-requisites for this VOC


· A learning space suitable for number of trainees

· VOC assessment

· A live or simulated working at heights area

· Working at heights equipment

Assessment method

Oral and practical observation

VOC Assessment areas:

VOC's can be assessed against many discipline areas including but not limited to:

·         Height and Access

·         Confined Space

·         Elevated Work Platforms

·         Transport

·         Crane

·         Fire & Emergency

Benefits of VOC:

A VOC is a bespoke assessment adapted to the everyday environment of the worker. This provides benefits for both employer and worker. The worker is often more at ease as they are on their own turf and outside of the formal assessment environment. The VOC also has a much greater focus on hand-on skill and experience of the worker than what a tradition day of training would offer and considering a VOC is assessed against a company's internal operation procedures, the trainer/assessor has the opportunity to provide feedback and advice back to the workers and employer.

If you think a VOC could work for your business or have any questions regarding VOCs then please give us a call on 0800 72 33 848 or flick us an email info@verticalhorizonz.co.nz

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