Training can be used to boost the effectiveness, safety and efficiency of the workforce, however knowing how to select appropriate training, what to look for in your choice of providers, how you determine you are meeting your legal obligations, and keeping track of staff competencies can be quite confusing.
There is a plethora of providers offering various training services on the Internet, advertisements on radio, in magazines, even popping up on the side of buses. Where do you start in determining what needs to be trained (under legislation as well as organisational need), whether it needs to be accredited or non-accredited, and who to choose?
A good start is a training needs analysis (TNA) of your workforce. Before you start looking for providers, be confident you know what your staff need training in and why. A TNA highlights where gaps exist in skills or performance, and points to where training is required. An effective TNA ensures the right training is identified, and helps to justify the need for training (particularly if it is not a priority within the organisation).
When documenting your TNA, don’t forget to consider training required by legislation, not just the training required by your staff to effectively perform their duties. This may include training such as first response firefighting, general evacuation training, training in emergency preparedness, and specific skill sets which require licensing such as forklift operation, or dogging and rigging.
When you are looking at the training requirements, you need to determine whether this training needs to be accredited or non-accredited. What’s the difference? I hear you ask. Quite a bit considering the wrong choice could land you in hot water if there’s a workplace accident.
Accredited training is training which:
- meets national quality assurance requirements (i.e. is delivered under the Australian Qualifications Framework)
- provides appropriate competency outcomes and a basis for assessment
- can only be delivered by a registered training organisation (RTO) or an organisation partnered with an RTO
- is recognised across Australia
- is delivered from a Training Package or accredited course
Non-accredited training is training which:
- has been developed to fill a need for an individual, group or organisation
- follows no benchmark and has no standard inclusions
- is not regulated
- may contain anything the course writer wishes to include
- there is no requirement for participants to be assessed at the conclusion of training
Non-accredited training may be perfectly acceptable for those who don’t require a nationally recognised competency, and has the flexibility to be written specifically for individuals or organisations. Examples of such training are new employee inductions, in-house training on sales techniques, or a training session on how to use a certain type of software.
If training has been mandated under legislation, your first point of call is to look at that legislation and identify the training requirements. This means looking at the Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice (which are often called into legislation). In particular, the Regulation and Codes of Practice will often spell out exactly what is required to comply with this legislation.
Here’s two examples involving fire safety:
- General evacuation is stipulated in legislation and must be provided to your workforce within the first 2 days of their employment. It does not, however need to be accredited training (meaning you can train in-house using your own procedures and resources, or have another party come and train a non-accredited course).
- In high occupancy buildings, a fire safety advisor is required under legislation. This training must be accredited and there are eight units of competency stipulated which must be achieved to gain your fire safety advisor accreditation.
Both these examples come from the same Regulation, but require different types of training.
Once you determine what kind of training you require (accredited or non-accredited), you can start looking for appropriate providers. There are a few clues to determining if a provider is an RTO (and therefore able to deliver accredited training). They may have the nationally recognised training logo on their website (green and red inverted triangle). They will state they are a registered training organisation and have a provider number. Another good idea when determining if an organisation is an RTO or not is to look up their name on the website www.training.gov.au (there is a search field on the home page where you can search for RTOs). If the organisation does not come up on this website, they are most likely not an RTO.
When choosing your training provider, ensure you ask questions about their training, how their organisation deals with refunds, recognition of prior learning and training outcomes. An excellent checklist for this can be found on the website of the Australian Skills Quality Authority.
Do your homework too. Ask around colleagues in your industry as to who they use, find out the reputation of the provider, compare pricing (remembering in some instances you get what you pay for), ask about funding options, delivery options, how long you have to complete the training, etc. A big question to ask is how experienced is the trainer? What qualifications do they hold and how many years of industry experience have they had? We so often see a person attend a course, has never worked in that industry, and next minute they pop up as the trainer of that competency. This trainer will not have the breadth of knowledge, skill and experience to do justice to your training, so seek out credentialed and experienced trainers.
Once you have determined the training needs of your organisation, found appropriate providers and have completed the training, there’s one more step. Keep a record for each staff member of what has been trained, by whom and when. A Training Matrix showing all staff training is an excellent way to keep track of who has been trained in what.
Some courses require refresher training after a certain period of time (i.e. first aid requires refresher training every 3 years), and this has to be managed into the future. Compliance software such as Mango ( www.mangolive.com ) is an excellent way of keeping track of this type of recurrence, and provides an ongoing database of employee competencies, skills and overall company compliance in this area.
So in summary:
- When determining your training needs, don’t forget to check the legislation particular to your industry sector, to ensure you are meeting your legal duties.
- Decide on accredited or non-accredited training, and find the most appropriate provider.
- Ask questions! Ensure the training offered is suited to your needs, and check on things like refresher requirements, licensing and accreditations, reputation, trainer skills, and available funding.
- Keep records of staff training, and update the training as required by internal policies, legislation or industry best practice.