Your auto’s AC needs service – where do you go?  You’re going to Aruba and you want to know how to SCUBA? Your daughter is doing a 500-hour Yoga training to be certified.  Did you know that all of these critical work functions have a recognized credential?

Credentials, whether certification or licensure, indicate a level of commitment, learning and experience.  It conveys a level of confidence for the consumer that the person doing the job knows what they’re doing.  As for me, I’m putting my money and confidence on someone—or some organization—that’s credentialed.

But how is the credential developed?  Who comes up with the criteria for critical work functions?  Who establishes the curriculum?  Say hello to the job task analysis (JTA).

“At its very basic, a JTA is the heart of any credentialing program for training providers,” says Pat Fox, IREC’s Director of Operations.  “A JTA is based on core knowledge areas, essential work functions, and skills for workers in that field.”  A well-constructed JTA will help you perform your job—whether you’re a Yoga instructor, an auto mechanic, or a SCUBA instructor, and it’ll help you perform it competently.

According to the ISPQ Candidate Handbook, the JTA lists knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) that a practitioner needs in order to perform a given job appropriately.   Facilitated by a psychometrician, JTA’s are developed by committees of subject matter experts (SME’s) who apply specific job experience for specific technologies within the renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation sectors.

“Developing a JTA is a very complex process,” said Fox. “The psychometrician guides the SME’s to identify and document all of the KSA’s that someone needs to perform successfully on the job.  Sequentially, the KSA’s support the JTA. “It’s not something you can come up with in a weekend.  Realistically, it takes between one and two years to develop a JTA,” says Fox.  And yes, credentialing has its very own set of acronyms.

Psychometrics?  Psychometrician?

Psychometrics measures knowledge, abilities, attitudes and personality traits and educational measurement (thanks, Wikipedia).  Those who practice psychometrics are known as psychometricians.

IREC’s ISPQ Candidate Handbook (pg. 4) has very specific guidelines it uses to evaluate and approve a JTA for its ISPQ Accreditation and Certification Program.  If an applicable JTA doesn’t exist for the sector, IREC encourages applicants to use SME’s to develop a JTA.

Since the mid 1990’s (was it really that long ago?), IREC figured out that credentialing of renewable energy training programs and trainers was crucial if the industry was to survive and emerge as a sustainable, dynamic workforce.  IREC, along with some other very smart people, developed the ISPQ Standard—it specifies requirements for competency, quality systems, resources, management, administration, and qualification of a curriculum against which trainers and training programs can be evaluated.   Since 2005, the ISPQ credential has become an important and desirable credential to have, for both training programs and trainers of renewable energy practitioners.

According to Fox, there are 49 renewable energy training programs (for both training programs and continuing education providers), and 59 renewable energy trainers who hold IREC’s ISPQ Credential.

Just this year, IREC’s ISPQ Standard expanded to include the energy efficiency and weatherization sectors. Fox said that the influx of money, coupled with the expansion of federal, state and local goals related to energy efficiency is driving exponential growth in this sector.

“Through the work led by NREL and supported by DOE through the Home Energy Retrofit Initiative, groups of SMEs facilitated by a psychometrician developed Standard Work Specifications (SWS), KSAs and JTAs for the job categories of installer, crew chief, energy auditor, and quality control inspector in the energy efficiency and weatherization fields,” said Fox.

“This means that training providers in this field now have the tools to develop quality programs based on consistent standards and IREC now has the tools it needs (JTAs) to fully assess training providers in these areas for accreditation and certification.”

Got those acronyms straight?

Here are details about those four new energy efficiency and weatherization JTAs:

  • Quality  Control  Inspector is  an  evaluator  who verifies  the  work  performed  against   the  work  plan,  specifications  and  standards,  performs  building  diagnostics,    records/reports  findings   and  concerns,  and  specifies  corrective  actions;  by  conducting  a  methodological  audit/inspection  of  the   building,  performing  safety  and  diagnostic  tests,  and  by  observing  the  retrofit  work;  in  order  to  ensure   the  completion,  appropriateness  and  quality  of  the  work  providing  for  the  safety,  comfort,  and  energy   savings  of  the  building  occupants.
  • Energy  Auditor is  a  building  scientist  who  evaluates  the  energy  efficiency  and   health  &  safety  of  a  building  and  identifies  areas  for  savings  by  gathering  empirical  data,  conducting   tests  and  using  energy  modeling  software,  in  order  to  reduce  the  energy  consumption,  improve  the   safety,  and  increase  the  lifespan  of  a  building;  while  improving  the  quality  of  life  and  comfort  for   building  occupants.
  • Crew Leader is responsible for supervising the retrofitting activities specified in the   scope  of  work.  He or she is responsible for interacting with the client  plus  managing  personnel  and   materials  on  the  job  site  in  a  safe  and  effective  manner.    The Crew Leader  is  responsible  for  quality   control,  testing  procedures,  documentation,  and  conducting  a  final  walk  through  to  ensure  that  all   work  is  completed  in  a  satisfactory  manner.
  • Retrofit Installer Technician installs energy efficiency measures to single family or 2 – 4 unit homes using a variety of building sciences best practices to improve safety, comfort, durability, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency.

“This rapid growth has created an urgent need for standards and quality training to develop a workforce that can perform successfully on the job and deliver quality to the consumer,” said Fox.  “IREC is delighted to see the SWS, KSAs and JTAs for these job categories and our ISPQ team is fully focused on beginning the assessment of training providers to help support this sector. “

Now that the JTAs are available for those four job categories, IREC is fully ready to accept applications for programs and trainers in the energy efficiency and weatherization space.  “We already have a handful of Letters of Intent (LOIs), predominantly for programs,” said Fox.

IREC’s ISPQ program plans on having informational webinars on how to apply later this year.  In the meantime, candidates who are interested in applying should review the Candidate Information Handbook.

For more information, contact IREC’s ISPQ program at [email protected]. or call 518.621.7379.