Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!
Frequently I am asked for pointers for putting together a training and development policy. Sadly, this document tends to be rushed in an attempt to fulfil some deadline from a principal contractor or accreditation body.
But let’s look at the benefits of a training and development policy.
Used correctly, this document can be an effective tool in organising the development of your business and highlighting its credentials. It can set you apart from your competition by advising the client about what they ought to be looking for from their specialist contractors.
So how should you draft a training and development policy?
First, its unlikely the policy will ever be worth more than the paper its written on unless The Boss is the driver behind it and it is enshrined in management systems with aspects delegated to key officers and line managers.
Second, you need to have a system for flagging up training needs. Every employee should have a job description and should be appraised annually against that job description. Any shortfall will show you where their training gap is.
Third, complete the picture by factoring in the training and development needs your business is required to comply with from such sources as contractual requirements, legislation, accreditation programmes and card schemes.
Once you have all this information, you can write a Training & Development Guide that really can assist you to steer your business purposefully.
Generally, a well rounded out policy will bear the following headings:
1 Introduction. Provide a training and development mission statement about the vision for the company’s development as a whole and for its employees.
2 Aims. Communicate where you see the different sections of your workforce developing. You could express your aim to keep on top of accreditation audits for ISO certification or similar. And define whose standards of achievement for worker skills qualifications you are going to comply with.
3 Equal Opportunities. To meet legislation, your policy must expresses your arrangements for ensuring equality throughout your workforce.
4 Responsibilities. Formalise who has what responsibility in respect of identifying needs and receiving provision. Make sure you copy this over to individual job descriptions. You can also use this section to highlight the role of each employee in raising skills levels in the firm.
5 Core Learning for Construction Project Personnel. Use this section to list the type of training and qualifications achievement you expect to be in place, tying in the requirements from CSCS, the UK Contractor Group, the CDM Regulations, Health & Safety legislation, heritage groups and your principle contractor, so this section defines a plan that is workable and everyone can follow. Once defined, cross-reference it to job individual descriptions. This section also needs duplicating for other aspects of your business which are not construction facing (such as administration, commercial and in-house professionals such as architects, draughtsmen, surveyors, estimators and managers.
6 Access to Learning. Detail resources available for training and development. It can include reference books, trade magazines, guides to best practice, British Standards, training providers and course names. And don’t forget to include your own in-house skills mentoring.
7 Policy Review. Since the document should not be written once, archived and forgotten, formalise its review date. If you really want to make it work for you, review it annually after appraisals have been digested.
The policy needs signing off by the most senior person in the organisation or by a committee that is truly empowered to run with the scheme.
And the Training & Development Guide must be communicated effectively to all employees, because it will be a dead duck the day your client quizzes one of your people about it and it draws a blank.
Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. Mobile: 07876 687212