This paper was first presented to the International Cost Engineering Council on 24 July 2010 at the 7th International Cost Engineering World Congress in Singapore in a more condensed version than appears here.

The presentation was provided as an introduction to TASC which is short for The Assessment Service Centre for Vocational Qualifications for Project Controls in Industry. TASC offers a service to candidates in project control occupations to assess and evaluate their experience and capability as cost engineers, project managers, cost estimators and planning engineers.



The key purpose of those engaged in project control occupations is to develop and provide professional estimating, cost control, planning and commercial support to achieve successful implementation of projects.

TASC is approved by the Engineering and Construction Industries Training Board (ECITB).

TASC is an integral part of the Association of Cost Engineers in the UK and was set up as a non-profit making service to business and industry. TASC is approved by the National Vocational Qualification Awarding Body to take candidates through programmes leading to the award of Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 NVQs in Project Control.

The assessment is based on evaluating the experience and capability of candidates at each of these three levels and comprises 74 separate occupational standards some of which are compulsory and others are optional according to the individual role played by the candidate in his organisation.

Each individual candidate is assessed in technical skills, team working and self management, starting a project, running a project and completing a project.

It is not an Academic Qualifications. It is a Test of Professional Competence and knowledge and is assessed in the workplace.

Details of the National Vocational Qualification (NVQs) can be found at



When TASC was first set up in 2006 it was expected to complete NVQs for at least 20 candidates. In reality it achieved 50 candidates.

The following year the objective was to attract a further 50 candidates. It achieved 100.

The objective in 2008 then became 100 candidates. The number achieved was 150.

Currently there are 435 candidates each taking an average of 18 months to complete their chosen level.

There are 26 assessors and 6 internal verifiers within the TASC organisation and 2 external verifiers who represent the ECITB.

The purpose of the internal verifiers is to monitor the work of the assessors to ensure the current standards are being achieved and maintained.

The purpose of the external verifiers, provided by the ECITB, is to ensure that the standards meet the requirements of the Awarding Body who have approved TASC as an Awarding Centre.


The Awarding Body works closely with many of the major companies in the UK many of whom are world renowned and include Petronas, the British Nuclear Group, British Energy, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, British Petroleum, Rolls Royce Marine Power, Thames Water, London Underground, BEA, British Airways and British Gas to name but a few.

Companies in other countries are increasingly becoming interested in and involved since international work requires common standards of work practice.


The response from the candidates and the effectiveness of TASC appears to be significant:

  • Improved my performance and increased my knowledge: 80%
  • Improved the range and scope of my skills: 80%
  • Helped me focus on my own development needs: 90%
  • Improved project performance through the sharing of experience: 70%


Remote Candidates

During the assessment period, which is unlikely to be less than 12 months and is quite a few cases will take up to 24 months to complete, regular visits are made by the assessors to approve completed elements of the work and to monitor progress and give advice and guidance.

This may mean assessors having to travel considerable distances dependent upon the geographical location of the employing body.

One of the earlier difficulties occurred when two candidates were based in the Shetland Islands some 120 miles north of the Scottish mainland or 200 miles flying distance from the airport at Aberdeen.

The key aspect to the assessment process is the creation of a candidate portfolio of evidence by which their competence is assessed and recorded. The contents of this portfolio needs to be accessed by the candidate, the assessor and both the internal and external verifiers in order to complete the process.

A method has been developed using Information Technology (IT) to create a virtual or electronic portfolio which is held on a secure database and which can be accessed by all those involved.

Over the last twelve months this method has been developed to overcome the problem of those remote from the Scottish mainland and has been extended to candidates working for Petronas in Malaysia and Foster Wheeler in South Africa, Singapore and Australia.

The method is known as the E-Qual system.

The E-Qual system and its application

E-qual is an electronic portfolio which simply replaces the numerous lever arch files which would otherwise have to be used in more conventional situations. The documentary evidence of whatever type is then uploaded by the candidates into the file store.

E-qual is a proprietary software package which is regularly updated and enhanced. The cost of this is not charged to the candidate.

Access is gained by use of a password for all authorised users.

Minimum system requirements do apply together with Internet access speed. Since all work needs to be done on-line a reliable broadband internet connection is required.

In addition to the E-qual package and to enable communication on a remote basis to be realised, TASC have introduced the use of video conferencing and recording to enable candidates and assessors contact to be more easily established.

The introduction of this solution which, although not straightforward perhaps at the outset, is nonetheless meeting the requirements of the vocational qualification process nd allowing worldwide access to awards for all in the profession.

Candidates in remote or difficult geographical locations are therefore no longer prevented from achieving the same objectives as their counterparts in more accessible situations.

Also the more conventional procedures required by the Awarding Body can be matched by the use of modern technology and the use of regular telephone conference calls to supplement the use of E-qual portfolios.

Having made that point, visits from assessors to meet candidates cannot be eliminated altogether and a minimum of six-monthly visits for face to face consultations is recommended and indeed some clients have .....for such visits to be undertaken on a regular basis.


The very fact that a workable solution has been found to overcome the difficulties experienced by candidates in remote locations means that if distance ceases to be a problem allowing TASC to offer their experience in providing a service to test and certify the competence and experience of candidates worldwide.

Candidates in the UK seek to gain a National Vocational Qualification which their employers will recognise.

These same stringent occupational standards can be offered worldwide under the aegis of the Association of Cost engineers in the UK who can also provide their own certificate which can be approved by ICEC for international use.


This paper is prepared by Bruce Watson FRICS FACostE as the UK delegate to the International Cost Engineering Council. He wishes to acknowledge the considerable assistance he received from Alec Ray and John Ward of the TASC organisation and whose previously presented papers form an integral part of the above presentation.


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