In part three of our series, we continue our examination into the challenges of recruitment and retention faced by the vehicle dismantling industry, and try to understand why there are so many vacant dismantling job roles across the UK and the reasoning why we struggle to keep those positions filled. This week we discuss the significance of applying standards to workplace training and why it is crucial for the vehicle recycling industry to adhere to competency framework in order to achieve the right calibre of candidate.
Training; the necessary evil
Training isn’t something you can avoid. Every job has some level of training, however the historical lack of structure around workplace training for depollution and dismantling roles is something I have always found alarming. With workplace health and safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and a job role and working environment littered with hazards, I find it disturbing that training standards can vary wildly. That said, there are many organisations that do depollution and dismantling training very well, and as such, reap the benefits of a defined approach. Some stand-out examples include Charles Trent and Synetiq, who use social media to regularly share posts about the quality of their training and their reverse engineering approach to vehicle dismantling. Sadly though, there are still numerous organisations that still take a more historical approach to training, preferring to let new starters pick-up skills from more experienced operatives through observation and shadowing. Now I am not claiming that there is no place for this type of approach to onboarding, but without first setting out learning objectives and tracking an individual's progress against these objectives, my experience tells me that this approach will backfire longterm for a business, leading to accidents and incidents. Businesses that adopt this approach are training employees how to do the task without necessarily understanding why an activity is done a certain way, or providing the deeper understanding that typcially highlights the disadvantages, risks or environmental consequence of adopting a different approach.
Different Perspective Different Approach
For those of you who have many years of experience to draw upon from working within the vehicle dismantling industry, take a moment and view this through the eyes of a potential new starter within your organisation - a newbie to the industry, possibly a novice to all things automotive. What does their training look like currently and ask yourself, what should their training look like? Depollution and dismantling roles are technical, requiring people to be highly skilled and, in many cases, expecting employees to work unsupervised. The expectation is that these indivduals will be required to safely disassemble entire vehicles in such a way that they don't negatively impact the environment, and vehicle components remain in a condition that renders them suitable for resale as spare parts. How well are they likely to perform if their onboarding and training for such a task is inhouse, informal and unstructured? How long will it be before our new recruits are likely to lose motivation, take a shortcut, or adopt poor practice; hurting themselves, others or potentially damaging equipment? It doesn't bear thinking abut especially when the fix is cost effective and straight forward. And yet, I am sure we can all recall a time in our working lives where an unfortunate incident could have been avoided if only the person had been trained properly. A situation that leaves the Health and Safety Manager running for their employee training records to form the company's defence against enforcement action or a civil claim?
Employers must start recognising the value of training to a defined standard, rather than relying so heavily on historical workplace familiarisation training. Poor peer-to-peer training has little value to the individual undertaking it, and has been shown to have a direct impact on staff turnover and accounts for why competency from one technician to the next, varies so significantly.
Without standards a business will lack the necessary performance and quality measures to be successful. And without following a defined standard, the quality of traditional handover training relies solely on the ability and capability of the person passing on their skills and knowledge. Poor habits may be unknowingly passed down to new recruits and industry best practice is rarely highlighted or shared. Unrealistic KPIs focus on the number of vehicles processed across a single hour/shift/week. Work practices are typically setup to measure quantity not quality, encouraging unsafe practice and environmental non-compliance. If a job has unrealistic work targets, the role is unstructured, disorganised or unsafe, or peer to peer training is weak and inconsistent, it is unlikely that new recruits will stick around long-term.
Transforming Your Workforce: The Power of Standardised Training in Attracting and Developing Skilled Talent
Whether looking to attract new talent or upskill existing employees, technical training needs to adhere to a competency framework guaranteeing that employees possess the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out the role safely and compliantly, and to an industry-agreed standard. What does it say about your business and the value you attach to the vehicle dismantling role if you don’t provide proper quality training?
Thankfully, there are industry bodies supporting the cause and trying there best to steer the industry in the direction of apprenticeships and Occupational Standard routes, but uptake does remain slow.