An Insight into the SiLC Exam

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Tags: Featured SiLC

If you have ever considered applying to be a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) and wondered what the process is like, this may help you. We asked some people who have recently become SiLC what their thoughts on the process.

Motivation for becoming a SiLC is often driven by personal desire, but support and encouragement from employers can really help. Aspirations to achieve the next obvious step in career development and reassure clients and regulators of competence when trying to negotiate agreement on a tricky site were big personal drivers. In my experience and from talking to others, where employers do not actively encourage professional accreditations from early years, SiLC uptake is lower within an organisation. There are clients and regulators who require demonstration of competence, such as SiLC, to work on their projects.

Looking back over their SiLC application process, candidates consider it has given them increased confidence in their own abilities and instilled some new behaviours that help them do a better job going forward. For instance, they have continued the rigour in researching source documents for actual legal definitions or specific wording in guidance rather than relying on memory or text within a previously written report. During exam research one candidate set up a series of weblinks to key documents which they now consult easily and regularly as part of their job. Another candidate really enjoyed going back to some of the source legislation that they might not have consulted for a while and reading minutes from some of the contaminated land forums which exist. On receiving the exam questions, candidates tend to be aware of the main topics and knew where to start and where further research was required to add detail to their answers. Some struggled with providing an executive style summary of data within a word count but recognise this is a key skill for presenting technical information to clients. It is always best to write the summary and then go back through it, perhaps several times, to ensure that all the salient points are covered and that the envisaged client would get an appropriate understanding of the site, based on the information provided, and also to check that words are not used up unnecessarily where a more concise use of words would leave some words to enable the adding of more information provided that it is included in the supplied report extracts etc.

Many said that the SiLC Induction Day was beneficial, making people feel “I’m ready for this” or “I can achieve this” and de-busting some of the myths about how difficult it is to become a SiLC. It highlighted the need to consider what being a specialist within your own field and experience means. You are not expected to be an expert but you are expected to employ rigorous questioning and checking of facts and research. The pass rate is higher for those who attend the Induction Day compared to those who don’t. Some consultancies have hosted Induction Days for a number of their staff at one time.

The interview was generally found to be “challenging but fair and friendly”. Those candidates who had reviewed their exam submissions prior to the interview and acknowledged where they did not know an answer but could explain what they would do to find out were typically more successful.

Candidates should not underestimate the time required to complete the exam and this can be the reason why some candidates fail. However, those who have been through the process and come out as a SiLC have found that it has given them increased confidence and often changes their ways of working for the better. It is also easy CPD for the year. All say that having done it that they feel it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

As a SiLC we can help raise standards within our industry by encouraging our employers to support and promote professional accreditation and raise awareness with potential clients and regulators of systems in place to demonstrate competence.

Further information about SiLC can be found on the SiLC website.

Article provided by Louise Beale, Technical Director at SLR.