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Creamer Media : 10 June 2024

With technological advancements rapidly changing the face of work and employees having to acquire essential new skills, the need for corporate training has never been greater.

The results of a 2023 survey by global professional services network Deloitte found that 56% of South African respondents said between half and their entire workforce complement would be required to change their skills in the next three years to remain competitive.

Additionally, the LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report says 89% of professionals believe developing employee skills will help companies navigate the changing work environment.

Given the speed at which the corporate environment is changing, the temptation to roll out employee training as quickly as possible is certainly there. However, companies also need to be wary of sacrificing the effectiveness of programmes and adherence to regulations as they seek to expedite these processes.

Muhammad Ali, managing director of South African ISO specialist World Wide Industrial & Systems Engineers(WWISE), points out that standards set out by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) can play a crucial role in assisting South Africa’s companies in their training endeavours.

“Human resources practitioners will want to consider standardisation for various reasons,” Ali says.

“A significant one is that ISO standards are now aligned with the South African Education and Training Authority (SETA) as well as the Quality Council for Trades & Occupations (QCTO). Tax rebates and the Skills Development Levy (SDL) are among the benefits,” he explains.

Aside from this, since many training requirements are also legal requirements, compliance is effectively built into the programme. The result of this is conformity that ensures the standard of product or service is consistent.

Furthermore, Ali says, companies can use ISO to ensure their suppliers meet international standards and, in many cases, this improves the relationship.

“Identifying the skills shortage and working with a skills development programme are all part and parcel of any SETA, SDL and QCTO programme, all of which are governed by law in South Africa. By training and upskilling employees, their productivity and efficacy improve.

“Evidence of effective utilisation of the training is crucial, so it is important to measure this against objectives and key performance indicators.”

Most companies implement ISO standards when the need arises from tender or client requirements. Simply put, failure to meet these can result in the firm losing the contract.Ali says top management needs to create a level of governance that optimises processes and best practice standards.

“Once implemented, the induction phase is critical in integrating new employees into the culture of the organisation by demonstrating the ISO management systems and how to effectively use them to understand policies, conformance values and consequences of not following the standards.

There are various ISO standards applicable to training programmes, including: ISO 9001 – Quality Management Systems. Creates overall corporate governance using a risk and process-based approach with an internal and external client focus. ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems. Creates an understanding of environmental impact in all organisations, from paper usage to waste. ISO 45001 – Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems. Create a system where injuries, ill health and all safety hazards are accounted for with mitigating controls. ISO 27001 – Information Security, Cybersecurity and Privacy Management System. To manage the data and information through all processes in the organisation to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of Information. It also focuses on competence (education, training and experience) and controls related to onboarding employees with induction and respective privacy laws.

Ali adds it is essential for all company stakeholders to buy into ISO standards for training programmes to be successful. “Facilitators need to ensure trainees commit to the programme by providing engaging content with practical examples. Resistance to change is simply not an option.”

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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