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The IRSE operates a competence certification scheme, known as the IRSE Licensing Scheme, to provide assurance about the competence of individuals to carry out technical safety-critical or safety-related work on signalling and railway telecommunications equipment and systems. It provides a cross industry accepted benchmark of competence for personnel carrying out a range of activities from maintenance through design, installation, testing, project engineering and senior technical management.

The scheme has been designed to meet the requirements of the international standard for personnel certification, ISO17024, and is accredited to that standard within the UK.

Full details of the scheme are available on the Licensing scheme website.

Competence Standards
Competence standards for a wide range of signalling and telecommunications activities have been prepared by a number of expert working groups comprised of users of the scheme and these standards are available to all employers who are registered with the Scheme. The standards list the specific skills and underpinning knowledge needed to carry out any particular category or type of work. For example, the licence categories for signalling maintenance include - assistant maintainer, maintainer, fault finder and maintenance manager.

Individuals are assessed against the competence standards using a two-stage assessment process to ensure impartial collection and review of evidence and, on successful completion of the process, a licence for those specific categories of work is issued by the IRSE.

Log book
A log book is used to record details of training, qualifications and work experience. Licence holders are required to maintain their log book and assessors will want to see it to provide evidence during the assessment process. Log books can be bought from the IRSE or provided by an employer.

People doing work may make errors, so there is a facility to record any significant complaints about workmanship in the log book. If a complaint has been made, the results of any subsequent investigations and/or remedial actions taken are also recorded. This enables the licence holder to demonstrate how a competent level of performance has been regained so that it can be reviewed in subsequent assessments. In more serious cases, a recommendation to revoke a licence may be made to the IRSE. A licence is only revoked after an independent review of the circumstances and there is also an appeals process.

Testing track circuits with a track mapper, Singapore