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Institute of Quarrying unveils new ‘Skills Wheel’

First published in the June 2016 issue of Quarry Management as Opportunity Knocks

Institute of Quarrying unveils new ‘Skills Wheel’ at Hillhead 2016

Raising personal and operational performance standards in the quarry sector is now simpler than ever following investment by The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) in its innovative new ‘Skills Wheel’, which will be unveiled on Stand H3 at Hillhead 2016. 


The Skills Wheel is designed to help individuals and operators make informed decisions about investing in relevant industry-specific and vocational skills development. The ambition is to deliver better skilled employees working in the minerals, quarrying and extractives industries, as well as encouraging operators to achieve sector recognition for the highest operational standards. 

Phil James, chief executive of IQ, said: ‘We recognize that people working in today’s modern site operations need a range of expertise in order to be effective beyond the basics of the job itself. We also know that those businesses that continually develop their staff have a more motivated and valued workforce that will deliver better operational performance. 

‘As the international professional body for quarrying, construction materials and related extractive and processing industries, we want to make identifying opportunities for potential skills and professional development as straightforward as possible. We’ve identified four broad development headings for our customers, which should help signpost them to relevant courses and programmes.’

The four ‘spokes’ of the Skills Wheel are:

  • Knowledge & Innovation
  • Standards & Professionalism
  • Engagement, Influence & Impact
  • Personal Effectiveness.

Knowledge & Innovation

Knowledge and innovation drive the quarrying and mineral extractive industries to assist the continual improvement in productivity, efficiency, and health and safety to benefit all staff, as well as company performance. This area of the IQ Skills Wheel focuses on all areas of site operational issues, as well as general management advice. 

Standards & Professionalism

Standards and professionalism are a key part of the IQ Skills Wheel as they address the key regulations and standards that affect the quarrying and mineral extractives industries. Everyone working within the industry should be aware of the legislation and key documents that underpin best practices adopted in the workplace. 

Engagement, Influence & Impact

Being more aware of how to interact as a team member in a wider context helps you to become a more rounded professional. The engagement, influence and impact area of the IQ Skills Wheel considers how quarrying and mineral extractives professionals work within teams and the wider community and networks.

Personal Effectiveness

Successful professionals within the quarrying and mineral extractives industries are aware of their own personal attributes and how to develop their skills in different areas. Learning how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and being able to use them in the most effective way is an important part of growing personally and professionally.

Phil James continued: ‘The IQ Skills Wheel reflects the core skills and areas of knowledge that all members of IQ should aim to develop as part of their commitment to lifelong learning. But it’s not just our members who should invest in CPD – businesses and individuals working in this sector should see continuous professional development not as a ‘nice to have’, but as an essential investment for future success.’

Recognized CPD activity ranges from on-the-job learning and reading relevant articles, to participating in accredited webinars and attending formal training courses. IQ provides these activities as part of its services to members and the wider industry.

IQ training programmes are provided through the IQ Academy. The Academy offers a range of learning on topics such as geology and geotechnics, operations and processes, blasting, the environment, health and safety, and management systems.

In addition, IQ also provides a needs-analysis service to help businesses looking for support to develop a training programme for staff based around the IQ Skills Wheel. This can lead to tailored programmes to best suit specific business needs in areas including:

  • managing safety in quarries
  • managing health in quarries
  • environmental management in quarries
  • continuous improvement
  • behavioural safety.

The IQ Academy also has formal education programmes that lead to higher education qualifications. These programmes are delivered and accredited by the University of Derby and range from higher apprenticeships to degree level.

Case study

Ben Strickland is an assistant quarry manager at Hanson Aggregates’ Shap Quarry, near Penrith. His career path started with an HND in Construction Management at the University of Salford. He joined Hanson Aggregates’ higher apprenticeship/trainee management programme straight from university.

‘Initially, I started working at Pateley Bridge, in North Yorkshire, as a trainee supervisor in the operations and processing side of the business. After about 18 months I had the opportunity to do a secondment for six months at Penmaenmawr, in North Wales.

‘Other short-term placements have broadened my experience and knowledge of quarrying, particularly in the fundamentals of static and mobile processing. My apprenticeship finished in 2014 and I’ve now progressed to assistant quarry manager at Shap Quarry.

‘The in-work and out-of-work training I’ve undertaken has been invaluable. I’ve become really interested in the commercial aspects of the business, in particular the positive effect that a process of continuous improvement has on the operations. And, most importantly, what I’ve learnt has been directly relevant to my job.

‘I now have a Foundation Degree in Mineral Extraction and have started the full Honours Degree, which will take two years to complete. I’ve also got additional qualifications in safety, health and environment (SHE qualifications at levels 4 and 6) as well as shotfiring.

‘What I have found is that this is an industry where you work closely with your colleagues, supporting each other and providing ongoing feedback. You get a real buzz from seeing the difference you can make to the business. Your ideas are listened to, acted upon and you get to see the important contribution you can make.’

For further information about courses and programmes available from the Institute of Quarrying, visit:


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