A well-developed and managed qualification standard (qualification program) is essential to ensuring safe and efficient operations of any power plant. The need for an investment in training is all the more important in this current environment of reduced training budgets, trying to do more with fewer people, and ever-evolving plant technologies.
The development of a “qualification standard” for power plant operators is a key component. Especially in meeting a plant’s specific training needs. There are many ways to create and institute such a standard. And there are many existing ones available from which to begin. These include standards at the state level, the federal level, and various organizations within the power generation industry. A good resource is EPRI’s Qualification Standards for Power Plant Operators – https://www.epri.com/research/products/1000431. However, a qualification standard created specifically for the operators of that organization or plant will enhance any particular power plant or fleet of power plants that organization or plant.
A qualification standard provides a power plant with a resource and guide to develop a site-specific power plant operator qualification program. The qualification standard describes a training program structure that combines a variety of training methods that prepares operators for qualification.
So, what should go into the qualification standard? While the methods used to perform and document qualifications vary, experts agree that at a minimum, a qualification program consists of:
In order for these components to be effective, they have to be clearly defined, relevant to the job task and graded to a standard that is understood by both the trainee and the trainer(s). The steps to ensure job relevancy are:
Once a qualification standard is developed and a training and qualification program is in place, the program should be evaluated to confirm program design success and to identify opportunities to improve the training and qualification program. Refresher training requirements should also be identified during the evaluation of the program.