Assure 360

Last time, I laid out where the change was coming from and why; now for what form the change is taking – unless we’re very careful.

On the basis of these few nebulous ‘competence’ phrases, licence assessments now focus on a company’s ability to demonstrate the competence of its workforce. Some organisations are rushing in to fill the gap with “come to us and pay ~ £800+ per person and we will prove competence for you”. These are exams branded as competence schemes and none of the main offerings entirely fit the bill. In addition, some of these new offerings are marketed as replacements for traditional learning.

What changes are being made to the asbestos training architecture?

Regular readers will be familiar with the three pillars of a good scheme:

  1. It measures the behaviour, skills and knowledge of all individual employees
  2. It must be a continuous exercise over their entire career
  3. It identifies the skill gap between where the employee is and where you / they want to be

Critically you then train the weaknesses away, and repeat the process.

An NVQ (very expensive unless through ACAD) fulfils 1 and 3. The old Open College Network exam from IATP (inexpensive) would satisfy 1 and if delivered by a responsible trainer would also bridge the skill gap (3). Neither however say anything of the subsequent years of the employee’s career. ARICs (very expensive) tests the competence at an instance in time but doesn’t give guidance on precise training needs. If a scheme is missing one pillar (never mind two) – it will fall over.

If you rely on these offerings exclusively, at the extreme, you could double or triple your training outlay, and still not demonstrate compliance with Reg 10. So if not one of the new breed of set piece exams or traditional training, what does compliance with Reg 10 look like?

Genuine compliance is a detailed knowledge of your workforce and a corresponding bespoke approach to training. If Bob is great at enclosure building, removing AIB (etc…), but can’t get his head around taking the overalls off in the middle stage – then his training course should focus on that. Barry, however, can’t roll a cube to save his life, so his training course needs to focus on that. George (Supervisor) never seems to enforce correct transiting and in addition he is weak on the correct protocol for making changes to the POW – his training needs to nail that.

The good news is that this kind of knowledge is only built up by the employer. Paying someone to ‘sort out competence for you’ is both eye-wateringly expensive, and ultimately a waste of money. Any decent removal contractor is making these observations routinely, there will be an unconscious recognition of ‘don’t send Barry on the domestic job, where he needs to roll 6 cubes before lunchtime’. The trick is only to get a system that records and presents them in a useable way. Articulating this knowledge, IS a Training Needs Analysis, armed with this – training can actually change for the better.

Once you know the precise weaknesses (and strengths) of Bob, Barry and George – the off the peg approach becomes a waste of everyone’s time and money. What is required is an overall catch-up session of changes in the industry, followed by masterclasses for individuals covering their individual needs. Supervisor and Operative training could overlap if the skill gap dictates. If you have the ability in house, some of these practical sessions could be led by your star employees. Both IATP and ACAD would advocate this approach – genuine TNAs driving quality training.

The trainer for the next decade would therefore be one that designs bespoke modular courses. One that will work with you and your competence system to create a tailored approach. The set piece annual one day refresher would disappear, replaced by a several 1-2 hour sessions.

The challenge for the training industry is to move from the rigid large scale, pack them in approach, to a smaller individualised service. As mentioned earlier, some of the smaller independents seem to have an advantage here, with the ability to provide a personalised course. The larger providers who produce a single course for multiple employers have the most to do.

The danger of the trainers not changing is that traditional learning will still fail to fit the bill and the rush to ‘comply with competence’ will leave them behind. Without genuine TNAs the only way for misguided souls to fake compliance with Reg 10 will be the exams and an awful lot of money would have been spent without actually improving anything.

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