Employee Competence and Training

posted in: People, Processes 0

In its standards for quality management systems, ISO-9001 has a lot of sections relating to how the production floor works and how quality is maintained. One section that is sometimes overlooked, 6.2.2, addresses personnel qualifications, competence, and training. In particular, it discusses:

  • – how a company determines the required competencies for a position
  • – what training is provided to make sure employees are competent
  • – the effectiveness of the training
  • – the records that demonstrate all of the above

One easy way to determine what competencies are needed is to have job descriptions for each position. Job descriptions should include all the knowledge, education, training, skills, and experience needed to do the job properly.

Once the requirements are known, a training program makes sure that they are met. Training ranges from general information such as safety training (e.g. OSHA 10-hour) to company knowledge such as its quality policy to very specific skills such as how to run a particular model of lathe.

Training is a waste of money if it doesn’t result in more competent employees, so ISO-9001 asks employers to prove that the training worked. A piece of paper validating class attendance isn’t as effective for this as the results of a skills test. Other ways to demonstrate effectiveness include on-the-job observations and performance reviews.

And what would a QMS standard be without paperwork? Training records are one of the few required records in ISO-9001. They include what training has been taken and copies of required certifications; they are generally kept in HR, separate from personnel records so supervisors can review them without seeing confidential information. On-the-job training records can also be kept by supervisors.

Another common (but not required) document is a training matrix, which shows which positions need what training; the matrix includes all training from orientation and safety through SOP knowledge. It also indicates training for shifting roles such as Management Representative, which are assigned to individuals rather than positions. The same matrix, or another one, can be used to indicate what training has occurred for each employee. This is an efficient way to demonstrate requirements, show training provided, and keep records.

The good news about all these requirements is that they are good HR practices anyway and make hiring and managing employees easier.