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EMPI Awards have developed their Occupational Competence Assessment (OCA). This is a comprehensive assessment based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) comprising an observation of Skills, a multiple-choice test of Knowledge, a consideration of training & experience and a discussion of other qualities. The OCA is designed to be a robust and rigorous assessment of competence.



Until now the industry recognised route to demonstrating competence has been a Plant Operator Card Scheme. This card scheme has run for many years, becoming a two-tier system dependent upon the eventual achievement of a level 2 VQ. The EMPI Awards OCA is an alternative NOS based assessment of competence, giving employers in the extractive & mineral processing industries a choice.



Due to the safety specific nature of the extractive & minerals processing industry EMPI Awards have written an assessment that is fully compliant and based on the NOS for Mobile & Processing Plant Operations (Road Surfacing will follow in due course). The assessment is holistic and includes an assessment of start-up, operations and shut down of specific plant types whilst working safely and efficiently and having the proper regard for environmental considerations, relevant to the job function.


Assessing ‘other qualities’ allows operators to fully demonstrate their ability to contribute to a safe, effective and efficient workforce in the 21st Century. The OCA is available for most of the more commonly used plant & machinery categories.


The OCA contains a system of grading, where an operator can be assessed with a ‘pass’ grade as competent but can also progress onto a Credit or Distinction grade following feedback from the Occupational Competence Assessment. This feeds into a system of continuous improvement and continuing personnel development, as the Occupational Competence Assessment is renewed every three years.



This occupational competence assessment has been developed and is owned by EMPI Awards. 


EMPI Awards is a credible, alternative and independent Awarding Organisation for the Extractive & Mineral Processing Industries.


EMPI Awards are recognised and regulated by Ofqual & accepted by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for End Point Assessment of Apprenticeships.


The OCA is delivered in partnership with MinTrain, a wholly owned subsidiary of MinExp Ltd, who offer a unique blend of expertise, knowledge, and experience with additional attributes necessary to deliver solutions. Focusing upon key areas of improvement within the sector, MinExp can provide a full range of SHE services, front-line operational consultancy, as well as bespoke training, mentoring & assessment of individuals at all levels.


EMPI Awards have the responsibility for maintaining ongoing quality assurance of MinTrain’s assessment delivery. EMPI Awards also approve all assessors and internal verifiers as necessary using the same principles that apply to regulated qualifications, such as VQs. A structured Terms of Reference for the Occupational Competence Assessment and an Assessment Strategy and Guidance for use by MinTrain and their associates has been produced & is managed by EMPI Awards. MinTrain will conduct all assessments in line with the requirements set out by EMPI Awards. EMPI Awards will then issue a certificate of Assessment of Competence to the site operator/employer and the employee will receive a card (100% biodegradable) confirming which equipment they have been assessed on and the grade of achievement.




Assessments can be conducted nationally and internationally at your place of work.



THE OCA is now available. This cost-effective OCA offers several significant advantages over other assessments of competence currently available. This is because it is based on the National Occupational Standards for the job role and explores further  than operational machine skills, thereby fully addressing all the qualities that a competent operator should have.

The OCA is a true measure of competence. Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience, knowledge & other qualities that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely.

  • Training is learning about a subject or being taught in a particular field.

  • Skills are the abilities that person has gained.

  • Knowledge is understanding of, or information about a subject that you gain by experience or study

  • Experience is practical contact with facts and events over time.

  • Other qualities are less easy to define. However, these attitudes & behaviours have real value and are very desirable in the workplace, they contribute to a fully rounded individual. It is these ‘other qualities’ that are the difference between a competent operator and an excellent operator.

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