New Auditor Certification Process with RABQSA

If you are an RAB certified auditor, the planned merger of the RAB and QSA organizations will affect your continued auditor certification. In the past, certification basically consisted of successfully completing an auditing class, passing its examination, and then collecting sufficient audits on your log for submission to the RAB.

Beginning next year, the auditor certification process will require passing an online psychometric test to determine if you have the desired attributes. Knowledge and skills will still be determined and may be examined in the classroom or via the Internet. In addition, there will be a requirement for a witnessed audit by a specially selected examiner.

These extra requirements are expected to increase the annual auditor certification fees. The good news is that audit logs and CPD details will no longer be required.

Current auditors will be given a two year transition period. The new merged organization, RABQSA, will continue to offer the non-accredited schemes, e.g., QMS and EMS until YE2006, at which time all schemes will transition to the accredited competency-based schemes.

The new auditor certification period for the accredited schemes will be four years. Throughout this period, RABQSA will conduct surveillance “gap” examinations (an e-based knowledge examination as appropriate to each scheme) to ensure that, in terms of knowledge, the certified auditors remain competent.

Merger of RAB and QSA 

The merger of the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) and the Quality Society of Australasia (QSA) into RABQSA International is to take effect January 1, 2005. The principal offices will be located in Milwaukee and Sydney, with Joint Venture offices located in Tokyo, Taipei, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, and Auckland.  Expansion into Mexico and Canada is planned for 2005.

The new organization will be focused on implementing ISO 17024:2003, ” General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons”. At the core of ISO 17024 is the requirement for the accredited personnel certification body (e.g., RABQSA) to determine industry’s requirements and then define, measure, and objectively examine personnel competence.

Determining and examining competence is about the recognition of persons with the required knowledge, skills, personal attributes, and qualifications to satisfy industry’s requirements. According to the RAB, this will have a significant and positive impact on business performance, and the fundamental value and relevance of personnel certification.

Auditor Certification or Recertification

The following new accredited personnel certification schemes (based on ISO 17024) will be introduced on January 1, 2005: Quality, Environment, Occupational Health and Safety, and Food Safety Management System Auditing, as well as, the Training Provider and Examiner Certification Scheme (TPECS).

Applicants seeking certification or recertification next year to one or more of these accredited schemes will be required to achieve the appropriate competency, including the examination of:

1. Knowledge: Applicants will need a Certificate of Attainment from a RABQSA Certified Training Provider. During 2005 and 2006, certificates from RAB accredited training providers will be recognized as meeting the knowledge-based competency, along with the addition of a “gap” examination.  All training providers seeking agreement to examine knowledge will be required to transition to TPECS no later than YE2006.

2. Skill: Applicants will need a Certificate of Attainment from an RABQSA Approved Skill Examiner. This witnessed audit will be coordinated by RABQSA.

3. Attributes: Applicants will need to successfully complete a psychometric assessment (Personal Attribute Assessment System) specific to the appropriate scheme. The assessment tool, referred to as PAAS Master®, will be accessed via the RABQSA web site and should involve no more than 35 minutes of an applicant’s time.

In addition, applicants will be required to provide evidence of recognized qualifications reflecting the additional competencies required for the scheme and scope of certification. Applicants must also agree to the RABQSA Code of Conduct and related administrative requirements.

The certification period for the accredited schemes will be four years. Throughout this period, RABQSA will conduct surveillance examinations (an e-based knowledge examination as appropriate to each scheme) to ensure that, in terms of knowledge, the certified persons remain competent.

Skill Examination 

Examining skills is about witnessing the performance of the person under realistic operational conditions. Defining the required competency in measurable terms is relatively easy. The difficult task is the examination of the applicant against each competency under defined auditing conditions, i.e., onsite. The traditional approach has been to rely on experience, number of audits, analysis of audit reports, and reference/auditee verification, compared to the prescribed criteria.  According to the RAB, this methodology is at best subjective, and at worst, does not truly examine skill and the application of acquired knowledge, which by definition requires onsite examination of the auditor demonstrating specific competence.

Of the formal and informal complaints RAB and QSA receive each year, they report that 90% relate not to the auditor’s knowledge and skill, but to his or her conduct onsite. RABQSA will engage the services of competent skill examiners to provide the examination of the applicant’s performance against defined RABQSA competency standards.

Personal Attribute Assessment System

QSA has been examining personal attributes since the release of ISO 19011:2002. This auditing guidelines document details those attributes; open-minded, perceptive, etc., that effective and efficient auditors should be capable of demonstrating. Late 2003, QSA reviewed a number of international psychometric HR models to determine a simple e-based product that could be shaped to satisfy the examination requirement. Culture Map Limited New Zealand was selected as the preferred supplier and worked with QSA in designing an appropriate examination. The result was the Personal Attribute Assessment System (PAAS Master®).

PAAS Master® is a simple e-based online examination consisting of 85 psychometric questions, which examine 12 personal attributes. The attributes were determined following extensive national and international research and interview with the aim of determining what, in terms of personal attributes, separates the more effective and efficient auditors. Software matrix-analysis of each answer determines whether the applicant has the potential to demonstrate the required attributes.

Essentially, the first six attributes are ‘shall haves’, with attributes 7 – 12 the ‘should haves’. The latter attributes are generally accepted as an indication of the applicant’s potential to add value to his or her performance in terms of their approach, conduct, and application to a given situation. The ‘ethical’ attribute will remain subject to the new RABQSA Code of Conduct.

PAAS Master® is not a ‘go/no-go’ evaluation. Simply, it will indicate to RABQSA where an applicant may experience difficulty in terms of demonstrating specific attributes and will be considered in relation to the other competencies of skill, knowledge, and qualification. Where RABQSA may have a concern, the applicant will be required to attend an interview with a RABQSA scheme examiner.  The examiner will validate the PAAS Master® result and recommend appropriate professional development. It may be a simple case of the applicant misreading the examination. In the most extreme case, RABQSA may decline certification.

Note: The new application, criteria, and related administrative requirements, should be available at the RAB and QSA web sites in December 2004.