To answer this fully, I need to give you a bit of background.
The Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) is a regulated examination, which means it’s required by law. The responsibility falls to the Department for Transport (DfT). However, DfT is not an awarding organisation, i.e doesn’t have the capabilities to set and manage the examinations. For DGSA, they appointed the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to undertake the role of an agent – to set and mark the DGSA examinations, nationally. SQA also issue the DGSA certificates in the UK, which are valid in all EU states and other signatories to ADR.
Training and Exams
SQA ensures exams are scheduled and standardised. Put another way, they’re the same for everyone taking the exam each quarter.
DGSA Training courses are not regulated. Independent providers offer courses of differing duration, format and quality.
As you’d expect for a qualification which enables you to advise on the transportation of dangerous goods, there has to be a robust standard of attainment. Although the pass rate fluctuates, from quarter to quarter, the pass rate across all exams has been as low as 50%. This is probably where your colleague’s perception comes from.
The good news is, there are ways to prepare which can tilt the scales in your favour. Ways to learn which can strip away the complexity, improve comprehension, and consequently get better results than the ‘average’. The way we like to do it is to gradually introduce concepts and topics, delving deeper as the course progresses. We then provide resources and support which keeps this information fresh in your mind as you revise for your exam.
We’ve all been on courses where the instructor read us the textbook/slides – it’s hard-going. But, that’s not what we’re about. Learning is best when it’s relevant and action-oriented. That’s our basic approach.
As for price, well it’s an open market. DGSA Academy is not the most expensive and we’re also not the cheapest. What we would say is, ‘value’ is not the same as ‘price’ – experience tells us this principle applies to, pretty much, anything we buy. Whichever providers you look at, be sure to check what you are actually getting within the price of the course.
This answer may not change your colleague’s perception, but hopefully it’s given you some further information to consider.