In summer 2016, we already informed you that DQS CFS has joined APSCA. This initiative aims to develop a uniform qualification framework for social audits and thus ensure the effectiveness of social audits. Two years after we joined the initiative, the first auditor examinations are about to take place. In this article, we would like to give you a brief report on progress and explain the implications of APSCA for suppliers, buyers and auditors.

What is APSCA?

APSCA stands for Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors. This organization was founded with the goal of increasing the added value and effectiveness of independent social audits. APSCA's certification process for auditors ensures that auditors have consistent education, training and proven competencies.

Why it matters.

  • If you are a supplier being audited: By choosing an audit firm that is an APSCA member, you can ensure that your customers accept the results of the social audit. Many buyers have now already determined that only audits from registered APSCA members will be accepted.
  • If you are a buyer who relies on social audits to assess the level of social responsibility in your supply chain: Working with APSCA members allows you to assess the level of competence and experience of audit companies and auditors.
  • If you are a social auditor: The new competency framework allows you to demonstrate your level of experience and competence.

APSCA Competence Framework

Since joining APSCA in 2016, DQS has contributed in working groups to create a new competence framework that defines the competencies of social audit auditors. These competencies refer to the expertise and basic skills required to perform a social audit.

The framework created establishes the basic competency requirements for the APSCA social auditor certification program. There are two levels of APSCA auditor membership:

  • CSCA status is similar to that of an audit manager who is able to independently conduct audits and write reports. This level is reserved for auditors who can demonstrate extensive experience with social audits.
  • ASCA status, on the other hand, can be compared to a co-auditor who can be part of an audit team, led by a CSCA auditor.

Auditor registration

Over the summer, audit organizations registered their social auditors in the APSCA database. With over 2,600 auditors completing the registration process, the response was overwhelming. 75% of these auditors have been able to demonstrate that they meet the requirements to take the APSCA exam.

Exam process

The exam assesses auditors' understanding of basic facts, policies, practices, methodologies, international human rights treaties and labor standards, local laws and other regulations. In the coming months, the first auditors will be eligible to take the exam.

What DQS can do for you

DQS welcomes the development of APSCA because we believe it is important to harmonize the competencies of social auditors. As a worldwide provider of social audits, we have a large network of highly qualified auditors who are available globally.

Dr. Thijs Willaert

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Global Director Sustainability Services. In this role, he is responsible for the entire ESG service portfolio of DQS. His areas of interest include sustainable procurement, human rights due diligence and ESG audits.


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