Thames Water: ensuring everyone has the skills to do their job

Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company with over 9 million customers in London and the South East. It is also responsible for some of the UK’s most significant construction projects to improve its infrastructure including Thames Tideway. Many of the people involved in these projects are not employed by Thames Water but by an extensive supply chain.

Thames Water has been a client of Reference Point’s for well over a decade. Over this time, we have delivered several systems for them, winning new projects as a result of the quality of our systems, service and our ongoing client commitment.


With a current investment programme worth almost £5 billion being delivered through their partner organisations, it’s a key requirement for Thames Water to be able to ensure delivery of safe and effective projects.

With corporate objectives of reducing water wastage and improving value for money for its customers, every possible measure is taken to ensure the workforce is kept safe. A large part of this is being able to ensure that the workforce is competent, qualified and has authority to work, whether directly employed or supply chain.

Thames Water has been a Reference Point client for over a decade. Our latest solution, SkillGuard, was implemented in 2017 and is a cornerstone of Thames Water’s mobile workforce management solution.

  • Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company.
  • Client of Reference Point since 2002.
  • Current Reference Point system: SkillGuard.
  • SkillGuard statistics of over 23,000 active operatives.
  • Approximately 600 new workers added each month, inducted, smartcarded and managed on SkillGuard.

The Requirement

Seriously committed to a well-trained and competent workforce and to maintain the highest standards of site safety, Thames Water was clear on what it wanted from its new competence management system. This included:

  • Ensure that no unqualified worker can gain access to site by ensuring that all personnel are fully inducted.
  • Record all training in one system including for the supply chain.
  • Provide a smartcard as an ID card to reduce the risk of counterfeit cards.
  • Facilitate worker transition across the supply chain whilst keeping one record on the system.
  • Provide reliable audit data for Thames Water's management team as part of its commitment to protecting the workforce.

The Solution

Having successfully operated a bespoke system from Reference Point for more than 15 years, when finally ready for an upgrade, Thames Water was delighted to find our new generation SkillGuard system had all the replacement functionality they needed and more.

The first step was readying the Thames Water version of SkillGuard including some rebranding and card overprint design.

Once this was in place, the next element in replacing the former system with SkillGuard was to transfer current valid records from their previous system and archive older data. This was a straightforward job for Reference Point and meant that on day one SkillGuard was seeded with operative information for a supply chain of approximately 20,000 people. The original system remained online in a read-only state for a short period while the transfer of staff records was undertaken and verified.

The next step was to manage a simple replacement smartcard process only for active individuals – saving time and money by only providing new cards for active personnel. This was progressed straightaway and a communications programme undertaken to inform team-leaders on the new system, the smartcards and how individuals’ authority to work could be verified on site.

The Outcome

The Thames Water Safety Passport System (SkillGuard) manages competence as part of Authority to Work control for the mobile workforce across a wide range of Thames Water sites.

There are over 23,000 active workers using SkillGuard on a daily basis with approximately 600 new workers added, inducted and smartcarded each month.

"The Reference Point team are a pleasure to deal with – always responding with good humour and a genuine desire to understand and meet our needs."

Veronica Richards, Safety Passport Coordinator, Thames Water

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