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Professional Development in the Extractive and Processing Industries

First published in the April 2017 issue of Quarry Management as Development Key to Future Success

An insight into the IQ’s approach to professional development in the extractive and processing industries

Raising professional performance standards of the workforce in the quarrying, construction materials and related extractive and processing industries is key to the success of this essential part of the UK and global economy. But its long-term prosperity is also about presenting the sector as an attractive career opportunity to the next generation of quarrying professionals.


The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) is invested on both fronts; delivering a wide range of knowledge development programmes to quarry operators and operatives that equip them with current thinking and good practice, as well as proactively promoting the sector’s benefits to the wider public through a range of innovative engagement activities.

IQ Academy and Skills Wheel

The new IQ Academy is a ‘centre of excellence’ for people working in the sector to access relevant and rigorous continuing professional development. More than 200 industry-specific development modules have been created by IQ, covering professional development at all levels – from operations management to site operatives. 

Julian Smallshaw, head of educational development at The Institute of Quarrying, said: ‘We’ve looked long and hard at how to make professional development accessible and meaningful to anyone employed in our sector. That’s why IQ Academy training programmes are informed by insight and experience gained from many years working with operators in quarrying and related industries.’

People working within the quarrying industry need a range of knowledge and expertise to be effective beyond the basics of the job itself. Operators who develop their staff have a more motivated and valued workforce that will deliver better operational performance. To help both individuals and operators understand what the overall view of what that mix of skills looks like, IQ introduced its unique ‘Skills Wheel’.

The Skills Wheel shows the core skills and areas of knowledge that all employees should aim to develop as part of their commitment to lifelong learning. 

Mr Smallshaw continued: ‘The IQ Skills Wheel is designed to help individuals and operators make informed decisions about investing in relevant industry-specific and vocational progression by mapping development to four key areas. 

‘The focus of the Skills Wheel is on ensuring a rounded educational experience is provided for people at all levels, providing a 360-degree view of all the proficiencies a modern quarrying professional needs, from essential technical knowledge to those all-important and often overlooked soft skills.’

A new health, safety and environmental vocational qualification (VQ) is the latest addition to the IQ Academy’s growing sector-specific professional development portfolio. The IQ Academy Level 3 VQ Certificate in Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Knowledge is a vocational qualification for the extractives and mineral processing industries. It is targeted at upcoming managers and supervisors looking to further develop their understanding before progressing to a leadership role.

The qualification covers a number of essential safety, health and environmental topics in order to prepare learners for their future management role. The qualification is open to all, with no prior learning requirements. 

Blended learning and short courses

Blended learning uses multiple methods to deliver learning by combining face-to-face interactions with online activities. IQ’s blended learning programmes are a mix of traditional classroom teaching, combined with learning online that can be accessed either at work or at home. Essentially, it is learning delivered to fit best around the needs of the learner and the employer.

IQ short courses cover a wide variety of topics from health, safety and environment through to management and leadership. Short courses are designed to be highly interactive and are delivered by industry experts, providing insight and knowledge across a range of topics. Courses are accredited by IQ for valuable continuing professional development (CPD) hours and include:

  • Understanding quality in the workplace
  • Solving problems and making decisions
  • Improving customer experience
  • Understand how to establish an effective team.

Strategic partners

IQ also delivers continuing professional development programmes with a number of strategic partners. Working with the University of Derby, IQ has a suite of education programmes to suit everyone from apprentice through to Honours Degrees – all available for both UK and international students. These include a Higher Apprenticeship in Mineral Products Technology, Diploma in Mineral Extractives Studies, Foundation Degree in Mineral Extractives Technology and Honours Degree (BSc) in Minerals Management.

Another key strategic partner is the National Fluid Power Centre (NFPC) in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. It is one of Europe’s leading centres for education and training related to industrial and mobile hydraulics, power pneumatics and control, and electronics and control associated with fluid power systems. 

John Savage, a director at the National Fluid Power Centre, said: ‘The NFPC provides among the best hands-on, practical training facilities in Europe for anyone involved in the maintenance and management of fluid power systems and control. 

‘We have partnered with IQ to alert people working in the minerals extractives sector that there is a centre of excellence here in the UK providing essential skills development that is absolutely relevant to the continuing professional development of quarrying professionals. 

‘We are the UK’s number one training provider for integrated systems engineering – that is hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, control, automation – offering our services to more than 300 major companies across the UK and internationally.’

IQ’s Julian Smallshaw concluded: ‘At the end of the day, as an Institute our overarching 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. That’s why we partner with relevant professional organizations, as well as offering a rich mix of blended learning and short courses that count towards IQ CPD.’

For further information on IQ short courses and the IQ Academy, visit:


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