FIA Qualification Scheme
The FIA Qualification Scheme:
- provides recognised personal qualifications and a clearly identified career path;
- encourages quality training provision;
- ensures continuing learning provision;
- improves the levels of expertise within the fibre optics industry;
- delivers tangible and intangible benefits to all involved.
Recognition of the scheme.
Corporate recognition via FIA Qualification Scheme logos on letterheads and promotional literature with increased client confidence through “Certified” staff. Personal recognition via Qualification Award “letters” and Qualification Award logo on business cards. Versions of the FIA Qualification Scheme logo are able to be displayed by supporters of the Qualification Scheme including training organisations and equipment vendors.
What are the benefits?
- free enrolment for FIA Personal Members;
- a register of companies supporting the scheme on the website;
- a register of FIA members with qualified staff;
- improved job prospects;
- pending employers permission;
- a register of Level V Award “experts” for clients requiring consultants in specialist areas;
- a register of certified personnel.
The FIA firmly believes that the Qualification Scheme will flourish if it demonstrates significant benefits to individuals and organisations. This will benefit the fibre optic and cabling industry. The FIA Council is committed to offering further benefits as the Scheme progresses.
The FIA Qualification Scheme is a High Level Award scheme operated by the FIA Qualification Scheme Directorate.
What is the FIA Qualifications Scheme Directorate?
The FIA Qualification Scheme Directorate (QSD) is a sub-set of the FIA Council and comprises the Training Director, the Qualifications Directo and at least one other FIA Council Member.
The QSD is responsible for the administration of the FIA Qualification Scheme and its developmentto satisfy the requirements of the fibre optics industry.
The QSD objectives are to:
- make decisions in the best interests of the industry, the FIA and FIA members;
- promote the FIA Qualification Scheme;
- deal efficiently with any Qualification Scheme issues;
- refer any non-standard queries to the next QSD committee meeting;
- ensure information is available and is communicated efficiently;
- minimise FIA costs and fees consistent with the long-term viability of the scheme;
- keep costs to a reasonable level for both training providers and learners;
- ensure equal opportunities wherever possible, for example the FIA may make allowances for examinations where the trainee does not have English as a first language. Allowances could include a longer time allowance, but must not compromise the standard of the award.
The QSD is governed by the Qualification Scheme Charter which enables the FIA to monitor any problems with the operation of the QSD, and to ensure that a quality service is provided by the QSD to FIA members.
Any non-compliance with the Charter will be brought to the attention of the full FIA Council. Where such non-compliances are judged to be serious or of significant concern, the FIA will take action to improve the operation of the QSD. Such action as may also be required will also be taken should high levels of minor non-compliances be identified.
The actions available to the FIA are to:
- review the operation of the QSD;
- tighten or improve procedures;
- allocate greater resources;
- change QSD committee members.
The FIA cannot compensate any organisation for any alleged loss of business as a result of the QSD failing to comply with a charter objective. This should be clearly understood by any organisation basing a business case or commercial decision around the FIA Qualification Scheme.
The FIA Qualifications Scheme consists of five Levels, with Levels I, II and III being broadly equivalent to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Levels 1, 2 and 3 respectively. The FIA Levels IV and V have not been mapped to the new NQF levels, but the FIA regard these as high level awards.
The scheme is designed to be flexible, such that an FIA Approved Training Provider can submit new units or even propose a completely new route to a High Level Award. This flexibility is essential to ensure that the scheme meets the needs of a diverse industry. Without such a flexible approach, high level qualifications would either be absent, due to the relatively small student numbers, or inappropriate to many learners.
A key feature of the FIA award system is the flexibility to adapt to the relevant skills required for a job function within the fibre optics and cabling industries. In other words your job should not prevent you from achieving a FIA Award at any level, and you should not have to undertake any irrelevant training in order to achieve such an award. The qualification adapts and maps to your job.
The table below provides an indication of the guided learning time requirements for an FIA Award. A training-day is typically regarded as providing 7 hours of guided learning, but the FIA understands that some courses will have shorter days and some may be more intensive with longer days. The minimum guided learning hours is the shortest training programme that can be accredited under the FIA QS, whilst the typical guided learning hours indicates the normal expected duration of the training programme. There is no maximum duration.
|GLH = Guided Learning Hours
|II (> 30% GLH at NQF Level 3).||50||+20||70|
|III (> 50% GLH at NQF Level 3).||70||+20||100|
An Approved Training Provider can submit an application for an FIA accredited award based on FIA approved ‘units’ providing adequate learning hours as indicated above.
It is important that both learners and training providers recognise the inherent flexibility of the Scheme. The qualifications listed below are a selection of what are expected to be the more popular FIA awards.
Qualifications - What are they and how to get them?
Base Level Awards – Level I
One or more of the following FIA Approved Core Unit awards:
- City & Guilds 3466-01
- City & Guilds 3466-02
- City & Guilds 3466-03
- City & Guilds 3466-04
- City & Guilds 3666-02
- City & Guilds 3666-03
- City & Guilds 3666-04
NOTE: The City & Guilds 3666 scheme replaced the previous City & Guilds 3466 scheme as the industry standard qualification for optical fibre cable installers. The FIA Qualification Scheme accepts either the current 3666 award or the earlier 3466 certificates as the Level 1 foundation qualification.
High Level Award – Level II (Technician)
A Level I award plus the following FIA Approved Unit awards:
a recognised industry award including manufacturers awards and an Approved Health & Safety award such as:
- ECA: Health & Safety Assessment
- NEBOSH Health & Safety Diploma Part One
- Health & Safety Award (NVQ Level III)
- SELECT: Safe Working in the Electro-Technical Industry
- AMICUS: Working Safely Together in the Electro-Technical Industry
- IOSH: SPA Passport Course
- CCNSG: Safety Passport
- CITB: Health and Safety Assessment
High Level Award – Level III (Specialist)
A Level II award plus an “Advanced” NQF Level 3 Award such as:
- for CDS, City & Guilds 3663
- for CMS, Advanced OTDR, CD and PMD Testing
High Level Award – Level IV (Engineer)
A Level III award plus a combination of FIA Approved Unit awards leading to one of the following:
- ‘Advanced’ education in the communications industry to Level IV
- ‘Advanced’ training courses of a duration twice the length of a Level III award
An FIA Level III Award requires a minimum of 70 hours of tutor-led training. The basis for the FIA Level IV award is to recognise that learners having undertaken further appropriate training at NQF Levels 2 and 3 are better qualified than any one individual award would indicate. Effectively the breadth of knowledge/skills gained equating to a higher overall skill level (in-depth subject knowledge).
This requires that the learner has undertaken considerably more training than is required for the FIA Level III award, and so a minimum of 140 hours tutor-led training leading to awards from UK awarding bodies, with at least 42 hours of this training leading to NQF Level 3 awards with the remaining 98 hours at a minimum of NQF Level 2.
The FIA may at their discretion recognise a significantly longer duration of NQF Level 1 award training days in lieu of up to 14 hours of NQF Level 2 training.
High Level Award – Level V (Expert)
Except in exceptional circumstances, candidates for the FIA Level V Award status must first have achieved the FIA Level IV status Award.
There are two routes to achieving the Level V Award, both of which involve an oral examination/interview. The FIA understands that this is an unusual examination format for most candidates. However, the FIA believes it is important for candidates gaining Level V (Expert) status to be able to articulate their expertise, and in the case of Option One write a clear report/thesis on a technical subject.
Achieve a Level IV Award and then submit a technical thesis or report (5,000 words minimum – 10,000 words maximum) on a fibre optic or cabling topic at least 2 weeks prior to the date specified by the FIA Level V Award Examination Panel. The candidate can select their own report/thesis topic, or may request a short list of appropriate topic titles from the FIA.
The report/thesis shall be well laid out, clear and technically correct, with any conclusions appropriately judged. The Level V Award will be judged on the thesis itself and an oral examination based on the thesis and any Units taken as part of the FIA Qualification Scheme. The purpose of the oral session is to establish that the thesis is the candidates own work and that the candidate has retained a good proportion of the knowledge imparted during earlier course units.
The examination is in three parts:
- presentation of the candidates report or thesis;
- panel questions on the presented work;
- panel questions on technical issues relevant to the areas of fibre optic cabling that the candidate works in or has studied.
The candidate is assessed by the panel on:
- report writing skills;
- presentation skills;
- knowledge of presented materials;
- depth of subject knowledge.
Candidates will need to score well in all of these assessment areas in order to succeed.
Learners who have achieved two Level IV Awards are able to submit to an oral examination based on the content of the Units taken. The purpose of the oral session is to establish that the candidate has retained a good proportion of the knowledge imparted during earlier course units.
The examination by the Examination Panel will comprise questions on technical issues relevant to the areas of fibre optic cabling that the candidate works in or has studied.
The candidate is assessed by the panel on:
- presentation skills;
- depth of subject knowledge.
FIA Level V Award Examination Panel - What is it and how do they operate?
The Panel comprises between two and five ‘interviewers. One member will be a University representative and one member will be an FIA Director. It is important that the members have a good understanding of the subject matter of the course units undertaken and/or the thesis/report submitted, hence additional panel members with such subject knowledge may be in attendance. Additional panel members will normally be selected from Certified Level V Award holders or otherwise acknowledged industry experts.
The Panel will award the candidate with one of three possible outcomes:
the candidate displayed a good level of knowledge and a sound grasp of the issues and technologies from both the course unit syllabi and, where appropriate, the thesis/report.
the candidate displayed a good level of knowledge in most areas, but was weak in one or two areas, or produced a report/thesis that requires additional (significant but not major) work. In this outcome, the candidate has come close to passing, but the FIA is inviting an early re-test with only a limited level of further work or revision required by the candidate. The panel will advise of the area(s) where the candidate should revise or study further.
Requires More Work:
the candidate was poor in several areas and will need to revise these areas or take more training courses to update knowledge levels, or the candidate submitted a thesis/report that was poor or requires significant re-work. This situation will arise either because a candidate is eager to achieve Level V status and applies in haste, or in situations where the lower level training course units were taken over a longer period of time and knowledge has been forgotten or out-dated. The panel will provide a general guide to the areas of weakness. The FIA are determined to maintain the highest standards for the Level V Award, and so it will not be unusual for candidates to be asked to apply for a re-test, rather than passing first time. Candidates are encouraged to view the first oral examination as part of the learning process that will equip them to be more confident and better prepared if a re-test is required.
there is no limit to the number or re-tests (oral examinations) a candidate can take, but a thesis or report can only be used twice, and for further re-sits a new thesis/report would be required, where this option was the chosen route to expert status.
Becoming a learner
Learners enrolling on, and continuing to be listed under, the FIA Qualification Scheme shall either be a Personal Member of the FIA or be an employee or officer of a Corporate Member of the FIA.
Candidates should complete the Enrolment Form and return it to the FIA.
It is the responsibility of the successful candidate to:
- advise the FIA of Units achieved by submission of a Unit Feedback Form;
- provide the FIA with details of CPD courses/events attended in the year;
- advise the FIA of any address change;
- promote the FIA, the FIA Qualification Scheme and professionalism throughout the industry;
- advise the FIA of any misrepresentation by any other individual or organisation.
Learners who have successfully achieved Level II-V Awards are entitled to display the relevant award letters (and logo as appropriate) for a period of up to one year.
Enrolled learners at Level II and III are required to maintain entitlement to that Award Level by Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and shall commit to achieving at least one Unit award each year.
Learners shall not misrepresent themselves by using titles which they have not yet achieved.
Continuing Professional Development
The FIA believes it is important to encourage successful candidates for Award Levels II-V to continue to learn and update their knowledge and skills. In order to maintain the entitlements achieved through successfully completing these High Level awards, a minimum of eight (8) hours CPD must be registered with the FIA each year.
Eight hours of CPD will mean eight learning hours. These learning/training hours can be achieved in a single day, but the FIA considers that a standard training day or conference day is typically only five or six true learning hours, and hence a day and a half or two days of training would be more normal to obtain eight true learning hours.
A wide range of technology orientated events and training courses will qualify for CPD including the following examples:
- training courses/events from FIA Approved Training Providers;
- FIA seminars and other technology update seminars;
- industry technology conferences e. g. European Conference on Optical Communication, Optical Fibre Measurement Conference, Optical Fiber Conference;
- other recognised science or technology courses/events.
Specific product update/awareness seminars, as typically delivered by equipment vendors, will qualify only if they have an independent element delivered by an FIA Approved Training Provider or independent (of the product vendor) FIA Certified Trainer.
Events submitted for CPD approval will be judged by the FIA QSD. The exception to this is training events organised and delivered solely by FIA Approved Training Providers with significant fibre optics, cabling, or closely related content, in which case the CPD entitlement does not require further FIA approval.
Content that is closely related to fibre optics or cabling, for the purposes of CPD, could include optics, general physics, mathematics and engineering subjects. It will not normally include non-technology courses, such as management courses, unless they are specifically orientated towards the fibre optics industry (e.g. “managing network growth”).
The FIA recognise that “distance learning” including video and computer-based training (CBT) courses, such as those offered by the Open University and learndirect can be a valuable source of knowledge and skills development.
The FIA is keen to promote learning at all levels, and considers that “distance learning” packages are particularly accessible to learners who are not used to classroom training and/or reduce the time the learners will be required to spend away from work or home.
These packages are a valuable resource, but can not fully replace the hands-on skills development and fully interactive “trainer-led” learning from a ‘traditional’ training course, but can, nonetheless help to build learners confidence and knowledge.
Learners who have used such packages can ask training providers if they are prepared to do a shortened, practical, version of their training course, followed by the assessment.
This will be at the discretion of the training provider, but it is hoped that some providers of “distance learning” packages will tailor them to the FIA Qualification Scheme Unit syllabi, and work with other FIA Approved Training Providers to provide such a solution. The FIA Approved Training Provider would then augment the distance learning element with hands-on training and invigilated assessment.
The FIA recognises these courses/training packages where the candidate has been awarded with a certificate of course completion or its equivalent and has evidence of the number of learning hours undertaken.
Since one of the aims of the CPD requirement is to ensure candidates who have achieved the High Level Awards are “keeping up to date”, the FIA would not want the same candidate to submit such “distance learning” options for CPD approval for 2 consecutive years. The exception to this rule will be for High Level accredited education, such as an Open University degree course, which may be used for up to five years. Other exceptions will be at the discretion of the FIA QSD.
Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL)
Learners may apply to the FIA for APL rights for courses or qualifications achieved in the past that the learner feels are relevant to the chosen route to a Level II-V Award.
However, the FIA QSD considers that few alternative qualifications have, or have had, content equivalent to the current Qualification Scheme. The FIA QSD is concerned that awarding APL without careful consideration could result in learners achieving a Level Award more easily, with the possibility that these learners do not have the full depth or breadth of knowledge of trainees who have gone through the programme without APL.
Whilst the FIA will consider each application on merit, the FIA are unlikely to accept most applications for APL for the reasons given above. However, any notable exceptions to this rule will be advised on the FIA website.
While the FIA are sympathetic to companies and individuals who have previously invested in fibre optics or cabling training, but rather than award APL in such circumstances, the FIA would prefer learners to pass the new Unit awards. In this case, learners may require only a brief refresher, or update course, followed by the assessment.
FIA Approved Training Providers may be able to provide this service where learners feel they will not require the full training course – but it is at the discretion of these providers to decide whether to offer this option.
The FIA Qualification Scheme has a once-only Enrolment Fee of £49 + VAT, to be submitted with the Enrolment Form, which covers the establishment of the Learner Record and a hard-copy certificate detailing the Award achieved together with the ongoing administration to monitor and cross-check trainee progress.
This fee is waived for FIA Personal Members.
There is NO annual fee for learners. After achieving a Unit award with a training provider as part of a Level II-IV Award, the learner will need to register this Unit with the FIA by submitting a Unit Feedback Form. There is NO fee for this. After achieving the next Award level a new hard-copy certificate will be issued. There is NO fee for this
Applications for Level V Awards are subject to a once-only Application Fee of £250 + VAT which covers the administration of the process and cost of the oral examination. This fee is to be submitted along with the Level V Award Application Form.
Training providers wishing to deliver awards under the FIA Qualification Scheme shall fulfil requirements that vary depending on whether the award is approved, by the FIA, as a “Core”, “Optional’’ or “Associated” Unit.
These are Units that are wholly related to the fibre optics and/or cabling industries and are agreed by the FIA as being wholly relevant to FIA Level Awards. Examples of “Core Units” include the City and Guilds 3666 schemes.
Core Units are accredited by recognised awarding bodies (normally national organisations that submit their awards for QCA approval in the UK, or their equivalent in other countries). Examples of UK awarding bodies are the City and Guilds Institute and the Open College Network. It is the responsibility of the course provider to gain accreditation for their course/assessment.
Core Units shall be available, in the form of syllabus and assessment criteria, to any FIA Approved Training Providers. It is not necessary for the originator of the Unit to make any training materials available as each FIA Approved Training Provider is expected to develop their own training presentations and course manuals.
Optional Units provide knowledge and/or skills specifically relevant to the fibre optics and/or cabling industries and are agreed by the FIA to contain a significant fibre optics, optical technology (optronics, photonics, optoelectronics) or cabling content (minimum 50%) which is directly relevant to an FIA Award.
Optional Units are accredited by recognised awarding bodies (normally national organisations that submit their awards for QCA approval in the UK, or their equivalent in other countries). Examples of UK awarding bodies are the City and Guilds Institute and the Open College Network. It is the responsibility of the course provider to gain accreditation for their course/assessment.
Optional Units shall be available, in the form of syllabus and assessment criteria, to any FIA Approved Training Providers. It is not necessary for the originator of the Unit to make any training materials available as each FIA Approved Training Provider is expected to develop their own training presentations and course manuals.
Associated Units that provide knowledge which is not specifically related to the fibre optics industry but is, nonetheless, agreed by the FIA as being useful to the all-round knowledge and skills of the learner and which is directly relevant to an FIA Award.
Examples of “Associated Units” include general health and safety courses, First Aid courses, management courses and technology courses or awards.
Associated Units are not required to be accredited by a recognised awarding body but accreditation will assist in gaining FIA approval. Providers of Associated Units shall submit to the FIA the following details for the course Unit:
- course content;
- any applicable accreditation/approvals;
- course duration (training hours).
At the discretion of the FIA QSD, Associated Units may be approved retrospectively, and may be submitted for approval by students enrolled on the FIA Qualification Scheme. In the event that approval is denied by the FIA QSD, appeals may be addressed to the FIA Council.
FIA Approval of a course does not represent commercial authorisation for its delivery.
When delivering FIA Approved Core Units, training providers shall be FIA Approved Training Providers, use FIA Certified Trainers and promote the FIA Qualification Scheme over and above alternative schemes.
When delivering FIA Approved Optional Units, training providers shall use FIA Certified Trainers and promote the FIA Qualification Scheme.
Within one month of FIA Approval of a Core or Optional Unit, the training provider shall ensure that following information must be included on course brochures, programmes or schedules for the Unit:
- the wording “FIA Qualification Scheme Approved” or the supplied logo of the FIA Qualification Scheme;
- the Unit Award Level – e.g. “Level III Award”;
- the Unit status i.e. Core;
- the wording “Further information on the FIA Qualification Scheme is available at www.fia-online.co.uk or on request from [the training provider]” in a clearly legible font of not less than 11 point in size
Where training providers have a stock of course pre-printed programmes , e.g. City & Guilds courses, the FIA requirements can be satisfied by adhering a label, or attaching (e.g. with a staple) an additional information sheet.
When delivering FIA Approved Associated Units, there are no specific requirements for training providers.
APPROVAL OF UNITS
Approval of Units by the FIA QSD will normally be advised within 2 months of submission of the Application Form, and typically much sooner.
The FIA will only approve a submitted unit if fulfils the FIA Qualification Scheme requirements and specifically if:
- the content is judged to be relevant;
- it is judged that the proposed unit is sufficiently differentiated from existing approved units;
- the unit is openly available for other FIA Approved Training Providers;
- fees, where applicable, are settled to the satisfaction of the FIA;
- it is judged that to approve the unit is in the best interests of the Qualification Scheme and the fibre optics industry.
The FIA will give brief reasons, in writing, for any non-approval decision.
It is inevitable in a fast changing technology such as fibre optics that Units may include elements that become redundant or out-dated. Any FIA Approved Training Provider may propose the revision of a Unit. The FIA will consult with the original Unit originators and/or other FIA Approved Training Providers, in order to decide if the proposed change is appropriate and worthwhile.
Where it is decided that a change is appropriate and worthwhile, the proposer and/or the originator of the Unit will be requested to liaise with the awarding body for that Unit with the aim to update the Unit as soon as possible.
Unit Application Form
The fee payable to the FIA for each Unit to be approved is £50 + VAT. This covers assessment of the Unit against the relevant FIA QSD requirements and the listing of the Unit on the FIA QSD web-site (see below for new ATP waivers).
NEW APPROVED TRAINING PROVIDER FEE WAIVER
Approval fees are waived for a period of time, typically one month, following the successful application of a training organisation to be an FIA Approved Training Provider. This allows existing courses, prior to the approval of training provider, to be included in the Qualification Scheme at no additional cost.
When a submitted Unit is not approved by the QSD, the applicant has the right to appeal to the FIA Council.
The appeal should be in the form of a short written statement (one side of A4 or less should be sufficient).
In some circumstances the FIA QSD will decide that their original concerns have been addressed and approval can be granted. In such circumstances, it will not be necessary for the appeal to wait for a meeting of the FIA Council. However, should a submission prove more controversial, a decision will be made at the next FIA Council meeting after receipt and circulation of the appeal to the FIA Council members.
List of Approved Course Units
The FIA Qualification Scheme is a flexible scheme, able to incorporate awards and learning from a diverse range of sources. For degree and foundation degree level courses offered by Universities, we refer you to the Universities and Colleges Administration Service (UCAS).
Courses can be found by searching on the UCAS website at www.ucas.comunder the subject of interest.
Colleges or Universities who provide specialist fibre optic, photonics or other communications technology courses are welcome to submit their course prospectus or programme to the FIA.
In particular the FIA is keen to hear of courses from Colleges and Universities that are open to people in work as day-release, evening or distance-learning options, and which result in, or lead to, qualifications.
Individuals who have been on courses with Colleges and Universities can also let us know about the courses, or are welcome to suggest that the College or University contacts the FIA.
Appropriate courses will then be listed on the FIA website with no charge to the College or University.
The FIA reserves the right not to list any courses submitted, for whatever reason. Courses and events will be listed at the discretion of the FIA Council.