This page of our website has been created to provide quick reference and answers to questions we are frequently asked by our clients. We shall endeavour to update this section of our website on a regular basis, providing any information you may need with regard to our training courses and competence assessment and certification schemes.

What is the difference between a GA and an ICA?

A Grade Assessment (GA) requires the individual to work through the competencies for a specific role and undergo assessment in the workplace. They are required to build and submit a Portfolio of Evidence that contains evidence of all the assessments they have carried out, including supporting evidence such as written reports, copies of log sheets etc

The GA is ideal for individuals who are developing in their career, for example someone who has just started working in the industry. In addition, the GA may suit individuals who are working towards a Supervisory role after working as an Engineer or Technician.

The GA takes between 6- and 18-months to complete depending on how much experience the individual can gain in the workplace.

An Individual Competence Assessment (ICA) is an assessment/verification process that allows individuals to gain recognition and a Certificate of Competence for the role in which they have been competently working at, for at least the previous 12-months up to the point of assessment.

Individuals are required to submit evidence relating to previous work carried out such as:

  • Appraisals;
  • Logged hours;
  • Witness statements;
  • And short written assignment on their job role.

The ICA can be completed typically within 1-month and is aimed at experienced personnel who wish to certify in their existing role.

How long do I have to complete a GA or ICA from date of purchase?

You have 12-months from the date of purchase to complete your ICA or GA.

If not completed within this time scale, you will be required to re purchase your course.

You may access the competencies for your role at any time in preparation for your Grade Assessment (GA). We recommend that you set up your account on MTCS Online (there is no cost to do this), download the competencies and once complete purchase your Grade Assessment.  Further details on how to compete your Grade Assessment (GA) can be found on our website at

What is the GA renewal process and why can’t I do it - my colleague did?

The GA renewal process requires individuals to submit a witness statement and copies of 2 x appraisal forms along with copies of Survival and Medical Certificates.

This process is only eligible for individuals who were awarded the certificate, that they wish to renew, by the GA Process. It also requires them to have maintained a valid certificate for the grade at which they wish to renew.

The GA renewal (if applicable to you) is also valid for 12-months, however, this must also be completed within 6-months of the expiry of your previous certificate of competence at that grade.

Individuals who were awarded their certificate using the ICA process must compete another ICA to renew their certificate.

Individuals who wish to renew a Certificate of Competence that has been expired for more than 6-months must also complete an ICA.

Why can’t I use evidence from 2-years ago for my ICA? Why does it have to be from within the last 18 months? I’ve been doing this job for years, I’m great!

The reason we need evidence relating to work carried out within the last 18-months for the ICA process is due to the fact that it has to be ‘current’.

This is in accordance with our ‘Quality Requirements’ relating to ICA evidence.

In practice an individual may have demonstrated competence 2-years ago, however, over time their skills may have lapsed, or procedures may have changed.

Who should sign my witness statement?

A witness statement should be signed by someone who is competent and experienced in the activity they are witnessing.

In some cases a witness statement is confirming that an individual has worked in a specific role, for a period of time, and is deemed competent against industry guidelines.

This witness statement should be signed by a manager who is fully aware of the individuals overall performance in their role.

If I can’t ‘back track’ to get appraisals from previous employers, is there any way around this?

Appraisals are important pieces of evidence and confirm your ability and performance in your role. If you can’t access historical appraisals, then you will need to get new ones when the opportunity arises.

Officially employers are required to give you full access to any documentation relating to your performance even after you have left the company. They should keep information of this nature on file for a period of time after you have left and are legally bound to provide you with this.

We do, however, strongly advise you to retain all documentation relating to your performance in your job role.

If you are unable to obtain copies of your appraisals due to other reasons, we can accept additional witness statements however these must be from different managers or supervisors you have reported to.

What is the difference between an Assessor and a Witness?

An Assessor is someone who has been trained and deemed competent in Assessment Practice.

A Witness is someone who is competent in the activity they are witnessing and can confirm that it has been carried out in a safe manner in accordance with procedures and company requirements.

An Assessor will be expected to be actively involved in the development of an individual in their role.

What should I do if I can’t get access to an Assessor when completing the GA?

You may use a witness to witness that you have carried out an activity safely and in accordance with company procedures.

We recommend that you then provide further evidence of the activities you carry out in the form of  written reports detailing what you have done and how you did it. This will ensure you have a wider range of evidence that the verifier can take into account.

Your verifier may also request that you provide further written evidence to support specific competencies.

Some companies do have qualified Skills Assessors who are based onshore. They can carry out a final assessment in the form of an interview.

During this interview they will review your Portfolio of Evidence and question you on various aspects of your role.

A record of your responses to these questions should be kept and included in your portfolio which is then submitted to MTCS for final verification and certification.

Why are the ‘certificates of competence’ only valid for 3-years?

The reason Certificates of Competence have a validity period of 3-years is due to the fact that an individual’s competence may lapse over time.

For example they may take time out of the industry during which procedures, processes and even legislation may change.

The revalidation ensures a competence check is carried out on a timely manner.

Are MTCS certificates recognised worldwide?

Yes, MTCS Certificates of Competence are recognised on an international basis by leading contracting companies.

The key value that an MTCS Certificate provides is that is has only been awarded after independent verification, by an accredited body (MTCS) against national standards of assessment and verification.

The certificates are therefore transferable across industry sectors and confirm individuals have complied with the requirements of an independent verification.

Will the MTCS verifiers advise me further if I don’t get my evidence requirements right on first submission?

Yes, the verification process identifies weakness in evidence, or in some cases lack of sufficient evidence to confirm competence in a specific role.

MTCS will provide constructive feedback to the individual with clear actions on what has to be done to achieve competence.

This is all very much part of the service provided by MTCS in both the GA and ICA.

What is a 'Working Towards Letter' and how do I get one?

There are numerous instances where experienced personnel who have not been working for the last 18-months for reasons such as COVID or a downturn in their specific sector, and are now trying to get back into work.

Potential employers will understandably ask for a valid Certificate of Competence which, for legitimate reasons, the potential employee cannot provide.

A ‘Working Towards Letter’ is a formal document issued by MTCS that confirms an individual is registered on a specific Competence Program (ICA, GA or GA Renewal) and is working towards a Certificate of Competence.

It is important to realise that an individual may be employed in a role in which they are not fully competent. During this period they must be adequately supervised and given the opportunity to develop their skills and ultimately achieve competence.

The Working Towards Letter is not a Certificate of Competence and is only valid for 6-months (12-months in respect of the GA process) after which time the individual is expected to have demonstrated competence.

It is only suitable for people:

  • who have previously worked in the role;
  • were deemed competent;
  • and need to rebuild their skills.

It is not suitable for people who are new to the industry.

Ultimately, it is the decision of the employer to decide if they will employ someone on the basis of a Working Towards Letter.

You may access and download your ‘Working Towards Letter’ in the ‘Welcome & Introduction’ Section of your ICA,GA or GA Renewal course.

How does the Diving Grade Assessment (GA) work?

Individuals wishing to gain an MTCS Certificate of Competence in a commercial diving discipline must first demonstrate that they are ‘eligible’ to undertake the specific Grade Assessment.

Essentially, they have to provide evidence confirming that they satisfy the IMCA entry criteria for the role at which they wish to certify via the GA.

Prior to carrying out the GA individuals most therefore complete an ‘Assessment of Eligibility’ which is also referred to as Stage 1 of the Assessment process.  Typical Evidence for the Assessment of Eligibility includes proof of competence in the role below that of which you wish to certify. For example, if you wished to certify as a Diving Supervisor then, in order to be eligible, you would have to prove that you have been deemed competent as a Diver.

Other evidence includes certificates of training and qualifications, logbooks, valid Survival and Medical Certificates.

Once your eligibility has been verified then you will be offered access to the Grade Assessment (GA) for the role in which you wish to certify.

Please note that no Certificates of Competence in the commercial diving sector can be obtained via the Individual Competence Assessment (ICA) process.

Does my one MTCS Online account stay with me throughout my career?

Across the world, many organisations are clients of MTCS and therefore may request us to register you on MTCS Online and associate your online account to their company.

This is usually the case when they are offering you employment and are wishing to purchase verification and certification on your behalf; the company administrators will in this case have access to view all your certification and verifications.

You may choose to have only one MTCS Online account throughout your career, and you may move this account between companies.

However, you should be aware that only one company may be associated to your account at any one time.

If you therefore work as a contractor, and work for different companies at the same time, you may need to have more than one MTCS Online account.

You will continually have access to all your MTCS Online accounts, regardless of whether or not you are still employed by a company and companies associated with your account can be removed at any time, either at the request of the company, or you, the account holder.

Please Note: If you already have a personal online account with MTCS, and one of our client customers, contacts us to request a training course or certification on your behalf, we may contact you to seek your permission for the new company’s administrators to have access to your original account.

This would then allow them to purchase new services for you, see any certification you may already hold and view any verifiers comments.

If you prefer them not to have access to your original account, we would open a further new account for you. This would be associated to the new company so they can purchase your new training/certification.

You would have access to both accounts at all times.

What is Evidence?

Evidence may be in many different forms however all evidence should prove that you have carried out a task safely and in accordance with company/equipment procedures.

In practice, you may be observed by your assessor carrying out a routine task as part of your job. This would be excellent evidence as it is naturally occurring and taking place in the contextual environment.

Some evidence may be generated during a simulated exercise or role play and this is still acceptable, however, not quite as good as naturally occurring evidence.

Some activities such as emergency procedures may only be generated by simulation and role play.

Other evidence may take the form of answers to questions you have been asked by your assessor when they are assessing your knowledge and understanding of an activity.

You may compile written reports on activities you have carried out and even include copies of log sheets etc.

Photographs and videos are now also commonly used as part of your Portfolio of Evidence.

This Insight article helps provide further information on the subject of evidence.

What is a Portfolio of Evidence?

A Portfolio of Evidence is the term used for the collection of evidence that you submit for final assessment and verification, prior to certification.

In practice, this may be in electronic format and contain the following:

  • Assessment Plans
  • Feedback from assessors
  • Signed competency documentation such as observation reports and responses to underpinning knowledge questions
  • Supporting evidence such as copies of logs, appraisals, written reports, videos, images etc

MTCS Online provides the opportunity to build an e Portfolio in your Private Files Area prior to the purchase of a verification (ICA/GA).

The following link shows you how to use your Private Files Area:

What is a Company Administrator?

A Company Administrator is normally a manager or HR/Personnel Administrator within your company who has been requested (by your company) to have ‘Administrator Access’ on MTCS Online.

This person is normally directly responsible for overseeing the development of company personnel and will be required to monitor your progress on your MTCS Competence Scheme. They can therefore:

  • Access your certificates
  • See a summary of Feedback from MTCS Verifiers
  • Receive reports on their personnel from MTCS Online, for example notification of the expiry dates on certificates

You will always have access to any MTCS Online accounts registered in your name, whether or not you are still employed by the company.

Company associations and Company Administration access can be removed at any time either by the request of the company or you as the account holder.

Why are MTCS training courses predominantly online?

For the first ten years or so of MTCS’ existence, the preference from many of our clients was for our training courses to be delivered at one of their locations, either offshore or at one of their on-shore facilities, meaning we would deliver our training across the globe.

However, recent years has seen a shift to online learning via our digital platform, MTCS Online, an approach which proves to be more cost-effective for clients and individual candidates.

This distance learning solution affords users the flexibility to learn at their own pace and they appreciate having this in the same online space as their private files, guidance documentation and certificate validation tools.

Video Guides and Resources

VIDEO: Renewing Your MTCS Certificate of Competence

All MTCS certificates are valid for a three-year period. We don’t offer certificates with a longer life as frequent industry changes are likely to affect how a certificate holder works and therefore we recommend re-certification should be sought in a timely fashion.

This video provides information on the process for renewing your MTCS Certificate of Competence.

VIDEO: How to Validate a MTCS Certificate of Competence

This video provides an overview of how to use the MTCS Certificate of Competence Validation Tool, an important feature of MTCS Online and one which allows employers, agencies and managers to easily check the validity of an MTCS Certificate of Competence.

VIDEO: MTCS Individual Competence Assessment (ICA)

This video describes the process for completing an Individual Competence Assessment (ICA) in order to gain an MTCS Certificate of Competence.

This would apply if you are seeking a competence certificate for the job role you are currently doing, and involves providing evidence of the work that you have been undertaking in that role over the past 12-18 months.

VIDEO: MTCS Grade Assessment (GA) Process

The Grade Assessment Process would apply if you are looking to work towards your next job role. It requires you to be assessed on the competencies in the workplace.

You should gather evidence relating to the work you are assessed on and upload it to your MTCS Online account for final verification and certification.

Information about MTCS (UK) Limited

Who are MTCS?

MTCS (UK) Ltd are specialists in the field of offshore competency and training solutions. Founded in 2003 by personnel with years of experience developing and delivering training and competency for the offshore sector, we have grown to become an internationally recognised and industry-leading training and personnel development company.

Who owns and operates MTCS?

MTCS (UK) Ltd are a fully independent organisation. Whilst we hold numerous accreditations and are members of industry bodies such as IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association), our independence also assures our clients and customers of our impartiality.

We are a UK registered Private Limited Company, and our registered office address is:

10 High Street, Windermere, Cumbria, England LA23 1AF

If you cannot find the information you require, please contact us using the form below and we shall respond to your enquiry as quickly as possible.