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Quarry workforce

First published in the June 2020 issue of Quarry Management

As the industry begins to return to work, it is important to ensure employees feel confident to carry out the duties expected of them to get operations back up and running safely

This will be a year that few of us will ever forget. So much of what we have known has gone out of the window, not just at work but in our social and personal lives too. We have had to find new ways of being engaged and connected with ourselves and others.


At the core of who we are as people are the beliefs, knowledge and experiences we have accumulated over time. During the pandemic, whether you were furloughed or working, have you learnt something new, or been able to apply your skills in a new way, or even been lucky enough to rediscover a hidden talent or passion? 

When times are tough, personal development remains an important objective, both for the individual as well as for the organization. For the individual, ongoing development helps them to build resilience, a key strength in managing stress and well-being. Awareness of mental health issues in organizations is rising; according to a recent study by Deloitte, poor mental health costs UK businesses up to £45 billion per year1.

Organizations want to get their operations back up and running safely and how their employees perform will be a key part of making that happen. As the quarrying and mineral products sector begins to return to work, the industry needs to ensure that its employees feel confident to carry out the duties expected of them.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, over the past decade UK businesses have consistently underinvested in training employees in comparison with other European countries2. Skilled employees are intrinsically linked with economic growth, productivity improvement, competitiveness and innovation.

Julian Smallshaw is IQ’s head of education and standards. He has been involved with the quarrying industry all his working life and has experienced how the industry responds to peaks and troughs. His passion is to give something back to the industry within the field of training and education.

He says: ‘The importance of training and development for employees should not be underestimated – particularly when there are many priorities for businesses to manage. We have been through a tough time and are likely to face further challenges. But we know that by investing in the training and development of employees, organizations can create a more productive, better motivated and more loyal team.’

The Institute of Quarrying has been supporting the industry with recognized industry-specific qualifications since 1949. Its approach to education and training has been to work with operators to develop knowledge-based courses to meet a specific need. IQ has long had the capability to deliver online learning so its courses can be tailored and delivered in a flexible way to suit the business and the individual learner.

Julian continues: ‘There has never been a better time to learn with the Institute of Quarrying. We have a vast resource of industry-specific content available online that can be consumed in bite-sized chunks, as well as a couple of targeted programmes suitable for people employed in supervisory roles.

‘We had identified a gap in the market where the industry needed Level 3 qualifications in Leadership as well as Health & Safety. These qualifications have been running for about two years now and have proved very popular both here in the UK as well as internationally.’

The bite-sized learning is subject specific. Users can choose which subjects they want to access and over what time period. A lot of the content is utilized within IQ’s partnered higher education programmes, therefore is up to date and peer reviewed. IQ can provide a CPD certificate to cover the learning accessed. IQ members can access a sample of this learning through the recently launched ‘IQ Connect’ app, which brings together valuable resources and learning materials as part of their membership.

For those in supervisory roles, IQ has two Level 3 programmes that have been designed to give employees a solid underpinning of knowledge that will support them as their careers develop.

MPQC L3 SHE Knowledge Certificate (VQ)

The Level 3 Certificate in Safety, Health and Environmental Knowledge for the Extractives and Mineral Processing Industries has been developed to provide an in-depth understanding of essential elements required for an individual’s career development in the extractives and mineral processing industries.

The 12-month course delivers a firm foundation of knowledge in key elements of safety, health and environmental processes and procedures, alongside additional complementary key areas such as leadership and communication techniques and theory.

Ideally suited for supervisors, foremen or anyone aspiring to join supervisory management, along with those who may have been out of education for some time, the course is delivered through online modules and assessments. Feedback is provided from the tutor after each completed unit. There are three supporting tutorials, which are currently being delivered online but are usually face to face and occur locally to the learner.

Learners also have an annual IQ membership included with the course so they can extend their learning through local branch networks and access additional valuable content.

ILM L3 Leadership and Management Practice Certificate

IQ has historically focused on delivering learning content that has a technical or operational focus, but it has recognized that success in the modern world means that employees also need to develop their softer, interpersonal skills to build a career in leadership.

The ILM Level 3 Certificate in Leadership and Management Practice provides an internationally recognized qualification with an extractives pathway to help learners develop skills and techniques to effectively lead, supervise and manage workplace behaviour.

Delivered over a six-month period, this course is for managers and supervisors looking to develop their leadership and management skills. It is also an opportunity for learners in office-based roles to develop a greater understanding of the industry. Its flexible five-unit vocational qualification can be delivered online or face to face, depending on individual learner preferences.

Julian Smallshaw continues: ‘Both courses are about providing relevant work-based skills and enhancing knowledge and expertise. It’s this sort of personal development that is so highly regarded by people as it reflects the value that is placed upon them by their employer.’


  1. Mental health and employers: refreshing the case for investment; published by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd (2020).
  2. Addressing employer underinvestment in training; published by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2019).

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