TT Talk - Lifting the lid on training
Most individuals and organisations know that training is an important requirement in order to develop skills. However, appropriate, needs-based training is more difficult to define and control.
While training will widely be accepted as ‘good’, its benefit clearly needs to be evaluated in the light of defined needs, and considered in relation to current skills gaps and future requirements as the world around us changes.
Training does not stand alone, it needs to be incorporated in effective feedback loops to ensure that it has been worthwhile and contributes to the development of the recipient and the organisation. A poor reason for training is simple compliance with law or regulation. Most of all, training should be part of the journey towards and assessment of ‘competence’.
"training should be seeking part of the journey towards and assessment of 'competence'"
Analyse the needs
One of the first steps when embarking on any training programme is to consider whether training is necessary in the first place.
The UK’s Health & Safety Executive recommends that managers consider:
• the specific job or task
• the person(s) carrying it out and their existing capabilities
• the processes and the equipment required
• whether contractors will be engaged, if so how they will need to be trained or assessed
• how that training will be delivered and by whom
Prudent organisations will develop a ‘Training Needs Analysis’ by examining their current skills base, any impending changes and, of course, what the law demands. This clearly applies not just to new staff inductions, but also any change in role, process, plant/equipment or technologies in order to ensure that all staff have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out their duties safely, without risk to themselves or others affected by them.
Training has several levels:
• Basic or induction – to impart enough knowledge to carry out a task without introducing risk. For example, dock health and safety induction courses or a basic fork-lift driver course;
• Intermediate – more advanced knowledge, particularly providing understanding of why a task is carried out in a certain way and how to deal with the situation when things go wrong or circumstances change;
• Advanced – higher level of skills required to deal with a whole range of situations and complex processes;
• Refresher – carried out at suitable intervals to maintain imparted knowledge or accommodating changing circumstances. This may also be in response to an incident or event that indicates knowledge or work practice has become impaired and needs remedial action;
• Responsive training – specifically dealing with identified trends or incident analysis.
Naturally, training can take various forms and formality – it might be ‘on the job’, often reliant on experienced staff buddying, or embedded in written instructions/online information, computer-based courses or classroom/workshop events (whether on or off site).
Howsoever the training is delivered there are certain factors to consider:
• People learn at different rates and with differing learning styles. Language and literacy need to be taken into account.
• Records need to be kept of all training delivered (including short bursts of training such as ‘tool-box talks’).
• Training methods and outcomes should be monitored to ensure they remain relevant to the organisation and its needs. Feedback is vital, including identifying the effectiveness and competence of those carrying out the training.
• Consult with workers or their representatives before initiating formal training programmes in order to ensure engagement and improve the scope.
A key consideration for many organisations is who will deliver training. Experienced staff clearly are valuable, but need to be equipped in training techniques and monitored to ensure that they are not passing on their own bad habits! Outsourcing the training may be effective, so long as there is solid understanding of your organisation and its requirements, as well as competence to carry out the specific function.
Competence is the goal
The fact that training has been carried out effectively may not mean the individual can be regarded as competent. Getting the best out of people and developing them fully is a ‘win-win’ for organisations and staff alike. Training alone cannot deliver that and working on a full programme of ‘competency’ assessment is ideal.
The ILO (International Labour Organization) in its Guidelines on Training in the Port Sector, defines ‘competence’ as ‘knowledge skills and attitudes that a person needs and uses in an occupation/job that is both observable and measurable’.
"Getting the best out of people and developing them fully is a 'win-win'"
Using ‘competency matrices’ for each task, individuals can be benchmarked to assess whether they carry out their function at the desired level. Such matrices are comprised of statements about the task in order to describe what elements of performance should be judged – whether by members of the training team or supervisors. It can be desirable (for both the company and the individual) for proven competences to be recognised by way of a certificate or formal qualification (by a government qualification body, including those ‘hosted’ by trade associations, such as Port Skills & Safety in the UK).
Training programmes alone are insufficient in this ever-changing world and have limited effectiveness. Coupled with a comprehensive assessment process – or ‘Competency Based Training’ – organisations can be equipped with the tools to develop their staff fully and integrate into the company’s future and how it tackles change.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance in the preparation of this article of Capt Richard Brough OBE, Technical Adviser to ICHCA International
We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Risk Management Director, TT Club