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Charlie Cadman

C&C Training Ltd

Commercial Director

Read more from Charlie Cadman

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Employee training: Ticking the box or building business competence?


As Charlie Cadman explains, there is a real opportunity to build strong, long term employee competency, minimise accidents and create the skills base that reflects the business needs of the organisation.


The rise in regulatory requirements for health and safety skills certification over the past two decades prompted a tick box approach to training, with organisations simply undertaking the minimum requirements in order to maintain compliance. But the planned reduction in health and safety red tape combined with growing industry demand for proven skills from contractors and suppliers, as well as the cross skilling that has become so important during the ongoing economic downturn, is changing attitudes.
The government's red tape bonfire is provoking a shift in attitude to training. Whilst over the past 15 years the requirements for skills certification has grown dramatically, the current government's pledge to reduce the health and safety burden on organisations is mitigating – although certainly not removing – some demands for repeated certification and accreditation in areas such as health and safety.
”The government's red tape bonfire is provoking a shift in attitude to training.
However, this is not reducing the need for training; organisations are still required to ensure employees are trained correctly and have the right knowledge to undertake a job effectively and safely. In fact, whilst the government is stepping back from its prescriptive approach, industry is now stepping up to the plate; with organisations demanding both direct and indirect employees are certified to undertake specific roles as a prerequisite for employment or new contract.
Indeed, this attitude extends far beyond prescribed training requirements to employee development. Building on the cross-skilling that has ensured the survival of many businesses over the past few years, growing numbers of companies are now recognising the value of nationally and internationally recognised standards – such as the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) - for both employee development and competitive differentiation.

Business relevant

With a reduction in the regulatory burden, organisations are released to rethink training strategies. Every company can now take a far more business specific and employee relevant approach to training. Courses can be tailored to ensure that not only the required qualifications – such as a Site Manager Safety Training Scheme – are achieved but to also include business relevant aspects and information to improve relevance and candidate engagement. Imparting insight and knowledge in a way that can be successfully implemented in the workplace is proven to provide a far quicker return on investment.
For the vast majority of organisations, however, whilst welcoming the theory of standardised and verifiable skills, as well as a transparent route for employee development, the process of managing training requirements is just one more overhead. Indeed, in many SMEs where the HR function is part-time, the onus can even be on employees to ensure their qualifications are up to date and to find an appropriate course.
As a result, far too often individuals are booked onto the wrong course, because they do not understand either the requirements or the training options. For example, a company may book an individual onto what appears to be the correct public course only to discover the training is inadequate for a specific contract because the individual has not achieved the right certification.
Similar issues apply to non-certification employee development skills. If, for example, an individual's presentation skills have been highlighted as lacking by a line manager, the obvious solution would appear to be one of the many public presentation skills courses on the market. But is this really the case? Would a short session of one-to-one coaching that highlights the specific development issues of this individual actually be far more effective?
”With a consistent training model and provider, the administrative burden of tracking training requirements and retaining required certifications is removed

Effective training management

With organisations struggling to keep up to date with changing regulatory demands and increasing expectation from industry bodies, it is tough for any SME to ensure each employee has the required skills. A training provider should be managing that process for the business, from tracking legislation to proactively updating the company both on new training needs and periodic retesting when required, and advising on areas where regulatory requirements can be combined with additional skills. 

A brief discussion between the training company and individual to ascertain business focus, job role, existing skills and courses attended, can rapidly clarify the situation and ensure access to the right course or one to one coaching session. With a consistent training model and provider, the administrative burden of tracking training requirements and retaining required certifications is removed; whilst the organisation also has immediate access to the deep resources required to determine the best, most effective training approach for each individual.


Having learnt the value of up-skilling staff in recent years to cope with a recessionary economy, organisations are now actively embracing the value of both company specific and industry standard training to build skills and demonstrate to customers a commitment to quality.
With what would seem to be the start of a shift change in prescriptive regulatory training, now is an excellent opportunity for UK SMEs to embrace a business-relevant attitude to training and skills creation that reflects the needs of the industry and key customers, as well as employee development.
Charlie Cadman is commercial director of C&C Training

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Charlie Cadman

Commercial Director

Read more from Charlie Cadman

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