20 August 2021

Enter the Ratrix


Can you imagine a world where a learner driver takes their theory test and, upon passing it, is immediately allowed to drive unsupervised on the road?

No, that would be dangerous and irresponsible!

BPCA secures funding for 3D Competency Assessment - enter the ratrix

Well this is the current situation in pest management, where you’re only required to pass a knowledge-based test before you can go out to where people live, work and play, and use dangerous substances to control pests.

In some cases, those who pass this test will never even have seen a rat, a mouse, or a cockroach in its real-life environment. They’ll never have used professional-standard chemicals or tools.

That is why BPCA strongly believes that ensuring the competency of pest management technicians is absolutely vital – both for their safety and for the safety of their customers.

With this in mind, BPCA applied for funding from the Ufi VocTech Trust to support the development of a simulated competency assessment.

Earlier this year we were successful in securing that funding for a pilot programme that will pave the way for integrating competency, alongside the knowledge and skills requirement, for pest management professionals.

L2P, n00b

This project aims to offer those new to the industry the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in a simulated 3D environment. It will mean putting that theoretical knowledge into practice in a safe and controlled way, before moving on to doing it in live situations.

Think of it like a video game - users will enter an environment on their device sort of like a new “level”. It will look like a common situation pest technicians should expect to find themselves in, such as a home or a restaurant kitchen.

Don’t worry, there are no bad guys to fight - just some pest problems to locate and eradicate!

Users will be able to move about freely and see the environment through 360 degrees, zooming in on areas where they need a closer look.

They’ll be able to move from room to room as they would in a real-life situation, looking for evidence of infestations and their potential causes.

Once the user has identified an infestation, they will have a toolkit of solutions to choose from. They’ll be able to place products and treatments where they will be most effective, taking into account any safety or site-specific considerations they feel are relevant.

As part of the assessment, users will be required to highlight any hazards or risks associated with the treatment chosen and select appropriate risk mitigation methods, making recommendations to their ‘customer’ to reduce the risk of recurrence.

At the end of the assessment, users will receive a pass or fail grade.

A digital solution for a digital world

The competency assessment will be easily accessed with an internet connection and a desktop computer, laptop or tablet.

“This project will ensure that pest technicians have a safe place to put what they have learned in the classroom into practice, and will bring a new level of confidence both to them and those they work for.”

Karen Dawes, BPCA Training and Development Manager

Karen Dawes, Training and Development Manager at BPCA says: “This is a really exciting project for us and for the industry as a whole, truly bringing pest management into the 21st century.

“Being able to simulate environments that are instantly recognisable and having the flexibility to include a range of contexts that the pest management technician may come across within those environments is something that we haven’t been able to do before.

“This project will ensure that pest technicians have a safe place to put what they have learned in the classroom into practice, and will bring a new level of confidence both to them and those they work for.”

Steering us into the 21st century

The development of the competency assessment is in its early stages and will be steered by a working group of the Professional Standards Committee which includes Martin Rose-King (Bounty Pest Control), Paul Blackhurst (Rentokil), Simon Taylor (Ecolab) and Alex Wade (Wade Environmental).

The steering group met for the first time on 9 June to discuss the types of environments, pest species and contexts that will be of the most benefit for the simulation.

The group will continue to meet at least every other month for the lifespan of the project.

The funding period is for 12 months and it is expected that the competency assessment will be launched early in 2022.

What is Ufi VocTech?

Ufi VocTech Trust is a grant-funding body focused on delivering an increase in the scale of vocational learning.

It supports the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology and aims to use the funding to catalyse change across the UK so that a significant increase in skills-based learning can be achieved.

We believe this project is necessary in order to demonstrate the professionalism of those working in pest management...

Ian Andrew, BPCA Chief Executive

BPCA Chief Executive Ian Andrew commented: “We are delighted to have been successful in securing funding for this project. The pest technician role is a practical, hands-on role that requires significant problem-solving skills.

“These skills cannot be taught using theory-based assessments alone. We believe this project is necessary in order to demonstrate the professionalism of those working in pest management through formal training, qualifications, and continued professional development and demonstrable competency.”

Want to get involved?

When we reach the testing stage of this new assessment, we’ll need willing volunteers to help us out. But we don’t just want people who are great with technology - we need a mix of skill levels to help us really weed out any issues we might have.

So even if you’re not usually tech-savvy, we still want you to volunteer to help us test it out! Get in touch if you’re interested.

Source: PPC104

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