Our APC expert shows you how to ace your final asessment

This article focuses on the Risk Management competence (A090), identifying the type of questions the APC assessor may ask and what they would be looking for from the candidate to demonstrate they have achieved the required level of competence. This is an optional competence for the Quantity Surveying and Construction pathway, which the candidate can select at either level 2 or 3.

During the candidate’s training period and prior to the interview, they should have successfully achieved the required level of competence, and had it signed off by their supervisor and councillor. Risk Management is a wide subject area and the assessors will be looking for evidence of the candidate’s actual experience to satisfy themselves that levels 2 and 3 have been achieved. The questions and answers will therefore be dependent upon the candidate’s experience and the pathway they have followed. As such, the questions below should be considered as indicative only.

Level 1

The RICS guide outlines the requirements for the Risk Management competence at Level 1 as ‘demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the nature of risk and in particular those associated with your area of business/practice’. Typical level 1 questions and appropriate responses the candidate may give are included below:

Question What do you understand by risk management?
Answer Risk management is a proactive exercise designed to enable the identification, analysis and effective ongoing management response to risks.

Q What is a risk in the context of a construction project?
A An uncertain event or set of circumstances that, should it occur, will have an effect on the project’s objectives. Examples may be given, such as statutory consents, design change, etc.

Q What is the purpose of a contingency on a project?
A The contingency sum is usually incorporated to allow for unforeseen items and/or project specific risks. Risk assessment can be used to provide an objective assessment of the contingency requirement, rather than relying on percentages which do not relate to project circumstance.

The assessor may probe the candidate’s knowledge with further questioning, or if satisfied that the candidate has demonstrated this competence at level 1, they would then move the questioning up a level.

Level 2

At Level 2, the RICS states the candidate must ‘apply your knowledge to carry out risk assessments taking into account all relevant factors. Understand the application of the various methods and techniques used to measure risk’. Examples of level 2 questions are:

Q How did you assess the risks on your project X?

Q What were the major risks identified on your project X?

The assessor here is exploring the candidate’s experience and specifically what role they performed on their project. The assessor will be looking for the candidate to demonstrate they have a good understanding of the process of identifying and evaluating project risks, including their cause and effect. The evaluation of project risks should take into account time, cost and quality considerations, and the candidate should be aware of the various methods in carrying out quantitative assessment. Better candidates will also recognise the importance of categorising risk to aid control and management. The second question is testing the candidate further to ensure they understand and can articulate the major risks on their project.

Level 3

Finally, if the candidate has selected Risk Management as one of their optional competences at level 3, they will be assessed on whether they are competent to ‘give reasoned advice and implement policies to manage risk by competent management in relation to specific projects’. So a question might be:

Q A risk review has been carried out at feasibility stage for a new multi-storey building with basement, on a brownfield site. One of the major risks identified is the potential for significant ground contamination, which the client heard was a problem on an adjacent site during a recent development. The client has asked you to advise him on how this risk will be managed.
A The candidate could initially advise reducing the risk through improving the team’s understanding of the potential type and extent of contamination. A study into the previous uses of the site and adjacent site could be undertaken if not already known, as well as a review of any existing record information. The candidate may also recommend reducing the risk through carrying out borehole site investigations at the earliest opportunity. Following on from these actions, appropriate further measures can be taken to address any realised risk. In the meantime the candidate should recommend that in conjunction with the design team, the potential likelihood and impact of the risk should be assessed, to allow its quantification and to improve the robustness of current estimates.
Depending upon the outcome of any investigations, or if none are possible on the site until much later, the candidate should recommend that the client may consider alternative options to remove or reduce the risk, which may involve adjusting the brief. This may include considering alternative sites, adjusting the aspect of the building on the current site, considering alternative foundation solutions, or adjusting the design to remove or reduce the extent of the basement.
A further option would be to transfer the risk to a third party. However, even if a third party was willing to take on the risk as part of a development, the premium would likely be significant and unlikely to offer best value for money.