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Upskilling for the future: How to get the most value from it

Continuous employee engagement and training is necessary for companies to ensure that they are ready for future challenges and opportunities.


The updated environmental management system standard, ISO14001 reinforces the need to ensure that all parties involved in your company are suitably trained to assist in fulfilling not only your environmental compliance obligations but also to assist in achieving your company’s sustainability strategy.  

The methods for delivering training and employee engagement are rapidly changing; no longer is a one size fits all training approach appropriate.  Whilst the requirements in the standard around competence and awareness are broadly similar in the 2015 standard, but there are a number of new areas that need to be explored. This includes; engaging leadership and executive teams on what risks and opportunities the business faces and how to best get their buy in; ensuring internal auditors fully understand the new requirements of the standard and how to audit against it; and, making sure environmental teams and other teams such as procurement are upskilled to the new requirements of the standard.  

When a variety of new training and learning solutions across a business are required, online learning management systems (LMS) provide opportunities to deliver training in a more flexible approach. But even as technology becomes a more popular method of training delivery; the human touch is still important and can still be the best approach.

E-learning can facilitate formal training requirements, such as sharing your companies environmental and sustainability vision to sub-contractors.  But it is also important to recognise the benefits of social interaction and experience learning which can be achieved through mentoring and on the job experience.

Here are some top tips for training success to help ensure that organisations can implement successful sustainable business strategies.

1.       Upskilling requirements and objectives

It is important that you are clear about what the requirements are for training and upskilling so that employees understand what they need to learn and what the value of it is. It is important to note that training should not be a one off session but part of a wider programme which enabes the understanding the objectives of that training and how this links to day to day operations and the wider business strategy.

2.       Be flexible.

Different formats suit different styles of learning so training should vary from e-learning to mentoring. By using a variety of different media to engage your teams, the effectiveness of training will increase.  For example e-learning modules and real time webinars can help you reach a large group of people but one to one coaching is a great way build knowledge between people and enhance skills.

3.       Be interactive and make it fun

Narrating 64 packed slides in an hour has never (and will never) engage people. Adapting the learning methods and media by incorporating games, characters and videos can often be more memorable and engaging. Interactive sessions also provide opportunities to learn from colleagues and will assist in putting theory into practice.

 4.       Add an Incentive

A reward for employees doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary; providing certificates are a good starting point and assists with achieving CPD with certified training. Establishing friendly competition between departments or teams for the highest scoring team can also make training more interesting and engaging.

 5.       Learning by doing

Most people learn skills through doing - think about how we learnt to walk, talk and read when we were children. Working through real life scenarios, challenges and business practices is key. It is important that training is tailored to the business specific practices as well as needs.

So, whilst traditional training methods still have a place to ensure everyone is competent and aware - alternative upskilling approaches should not be overlooked. The new environmental management system standard, ISO14001 is yet another reminder that training must evolve and align with a company’s business strategy. The new training standing highlights that environmental sustainability goals are becoming a bigger part of company objectives and so training must progress.

Written by Marielle Pantin, WSP Senior Consultant