In this article we look at the different types of external training that are available to you and also, what the Standard and your customers require of you.

This article references the requirements in the following Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 7.1 Training
BRCGS Packaging Issue 6 6.1 Training and competence
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 2 5.1 Training and competency
Storage & Distribution Issue 4 8.1 Training and competency
FSSC22000 Version 5.1 ISO22000 – 7.2 Competence
IFS Food Version 7 3.3 Training and instruction
SQF Edition 9 2.9 Training

Take a look at our awesome Food Safety and GMP training courses…

What the Standards say

All of the Standards expect you to determine what training is required for each role in your business. However, none of them specify that you must use accredited training.

The most specific in this area is the BRCGS Food Safety Standard, which in the interpretation of clause 7.1.1 states that one solution for initial training ‘may be’ “obtaining a qualification in ‘basic food hygiene’ for food handlers”.

So, let’s be clear from the outset – accredited, certified, endorsed or approved training is not a requirement of any of the GFSI Standards.

What Customer Codes of Practice say

Typically, customers COP (codes of practice) in the UK are more stringent than the GFSI requirements. But even these don’t specify that accreditation is required. One COP states that a recognised HACCP Level 4 is required for HACCP team leaders and that HACCP Level 3 is required for the other members. The term ‘recognised’ probably implies that it should be accredited, but as long as the training is provided by a competent trainer to a Standard which is equivalent to a Level 4 or accredited curriculum, they would most likely be happy with that.

What all your customers want – is for you to ensure that training is of a good quality and that the result is a competent person.

Training terms

There are many terms used when describing training and it makes it difficult to know what really adds value – and you know we’re all about the value.

Accredited training, or certified training sounds great – but what does it actually mean? Well, here’s what we’ve learnt over the years, our experiences of what they mean and which ones really add value.

What is accredited training?

Accredited training means that both the training provider and the qualification they provide, are governed by an official body. In the UK, the governing body that manages training providers and qualifications is ofqual.

A ‘qualification’ has to be an accredited training course, if you follow the exact meaning of the term ‘qualification’ under the ofqual Recognition Standards.  This means as far as ofqual are concerned, you can’t have an ‘unaccredited qualification’.

Accredited qualifications are provided by Awarding Bodies. The Awarding Bodies are governed by ofqual. ofqual set the structure for the training, for example in our industry we use the ‘Levels’. So it’s ofqual that specify what a Level 4 training must be.

The Awarding Bodies don’t necessarily provide the training themselves though. So, they approve training providers to do this. The Awarding Body then have to make sure that the Training Providers all are working to the same Standard, the Standard set by the Awarding Body to meet the Conditions of Recognition for ofqual.

So, if you go for a HACCP Level 4 Qualification for example – it will be provided by an Awarding Body that is governed by ofqual. If you look at your certificate, you’ll see it will have the ofqual logo on it and also the logo of the Accreditation Body that provided the qualification. And it will also have the trainer provider details on it too.

What are the benefits of accredited training?

When you go for accredited qualifications you know what you’re getting, because there’s a set standard that all Awarding Bodies have to work to. And the Awarding Bodies have to make sure that the Training Providers are all working to that standard too.

The Qualification will be benchmarked to the required Level as well. So, no matter where you get a Level 4 HACCP Qualification from, they will all provide you with the same level of training.

This is why, historically – accredited training has always been the way to go. And it’s this culture within our industry, that’s led most to believe that it’s actually a requirement – when it’s not. You don’t even need to use external training at all.

However – before jumping ship and going for the in-house training option, there are few things you need to bear in mind. Yes – it’s totally acceptable to run in-house courses yourself, but you do have to be competent as a teacher to do it. This means you have to have at least, train the trainer training and you have to have undertaken an accredited Qualification in the subject you’re going to teach. And, the Qualification you hold, must be higher than the level you’re going to teach. Plus, you will have to prove to an auditor what you taught during the course – so you’ll need to document control all of your training materials to do this.

What the negatives of accredited training?

To explain this properly, we’ll tell you a story…

In 2017, when we were launching our first set of Level 2 Food Safety courses, we made the decision to become an Awarding Body. We did this because we knew that there was an expectation in our industry, that to have a good quality training course – it had to be accredited.

The journey to becoming an Awarding Body was new to us, so we went into the process with total dedication. We were confident that our experience, knowledge and qualifications, together with our expertise in compliance and the ability to work with regulations would be of benefit.

During the process of becoming recognised by ofqual, we made a huge discovery….

In order for a Qualification to be recognised by ofqual it has to be comparable to other qualifications already available.

That makes sense – right? Well that depends…

What this means is it has to be comparable to the structure and curriculum content that is already available.

So, we were trying to become an Awarding Body because we wanted to get our product specific Level 2 courses accredited. However, there aren’t any product specific Level 2 courses out there at the moment. Which meant, that we had to compare our course to the current Level 2 Food Safety for Manufacturing curriculum – and they just don’t align.

We purposefully wanted to bring Level 2 training into the 21st Century, but we couldn’t if we were ofqual recognised, because we would have to continue to provide a qualification that’s comparable to what’s already out there (that was designed probably in the 1970’s).

This meant that the ofqual framework just didn’t work for us. We didn’t want to be constrained by practices that we felt were out-of-date and required us to change our training to fit a mould that badly needed updating in our opinion.

Which is why, in the end – we decided not to progress with our application to become recognised by ofqual.

And this is why there are negatives to this type of training. We’re sure that you’ve experienced some of these negatives yourselves:

  • The curriculums tend to be out-of-date for today’s industry and standards.
  • You have to learn specific elements in order to pass the exam, and then you never use them again (because the focus is on achieving the curriculum not gaining competency and skill in the subject).
  • The qualifications can’t be adapted. A training provider can add on specifics for your site, product and process – but you’ll still end up with a generic qualification.

Our conclusion of accredited training

This means there’s a place for accredited qualifications as long as you remember that the aim is to provide the best quality course, that achieves the desired learning need.

Take a look at our awesome Food Safety and GMP training courses…

What is certified training?

Training which has been certified means that it’s been assessed and approved by someone. The ‘someone’ however, can be anyone.

The most popular certification for training is using CPD.

To become CPD certified you have to pay a fee to the CPD and then submit your training for assessment. Once approved, you can then use the CPD logo to show that course has been approved by them.

What the benefits of certified training?

If you belong to a scheme like the Institute of Food Science + Technology you have to complete a certain amount of training each year, for your personal development. CPD certified training allows you to assign your CPD hours to your personal development.

However, this unfortunately is the only benefit we can identify. And we’ll explain why….

What are the negatives of certified training?

Here’s another story… As we can tell you this from experience (we’re tryers, we try anything once – you have to give us that!)

In 2016 we applied to CPD and paid the fee (which wasn’t cheap) to become CPD certified. We sent them access to our course content and filled the submission form – which asked for a brief description about the training and the learning outcomes. The course was assessed and passed so we were then able to put the logo on our website and other materials.

The course that we had submitted was our Food Fraud & Vulnerability Assessment course, which was new to industry with no-one else providing this. The subject matter was unknown to CPD and we had to supply the answers to the questions for it to be approved. It took just 6 working days – we were happy at the time for the approval, but it has made us question what the value really is of becoming certified. They didn’t know anything about the subject and therefore, couldn’t have been able to tell if we were teaching something correctly or not. We also realised afterwards, that there doesn’t seem to be any particular standard, that you have to achieve. So, it’s unclear what you’re being assessed against.

Which is why, at renewal a year later, we didn’t see the value in handing over the amount of money that was expected again, just to have a logo on our website – so we didn’t!

Our conclusion about certified training

Again, there’s a place for this. But you just need to be very aware that when you see a certified logo, it doesn’t mean that they’re saying the course is of good quality. Its our experience, that it’s just checking that the fundamental aspects of training are there and the CPD hours are valid.

Approved or endorsed training

There are many examples of ‘approved’ training. You’ll probably have seen some of these:

  • EHO approved
  • Approved by RoSPA
  • Institute of Hospitality endorsed

The benefits of approved and endorsed training

This type of approval or endorsement can be beneficial, if the body that’s approving it specialises in that specific subject matter. They’ll have the experience and knowledge to be able assess whether the course is providing a good level of training.

The negatives of approved and endorsed training

Although approvals can be good, you’d need to think carefully about what they mean and how they’ve been applied. For example, EHO approved – just means that someone who used to be, or is an EHO has looked at the course and approved it. It’s not an official approval against a set standard and, you don’t know how long ago it was done.

Approved by RoSPA is good, as RoSPA are subject matter experts. But you’ll find their logo being advertised where food safety courses are displayed, which is very misleading as RoSPA are not food safety experts. They specialise in H&S. So, you have to consider who has approved the course, and whether that adds value to the type of course you’re looking at.

The Institute of Hospitality endorsed can also add value, if the course you’re considering is kitchen and hospitality related – which for our industry doesn’t mean anything.

Use of the term ‘matches’, ‘meets’ or ‘equivalent’

These terms give you a good idea of the content and level of the course you’re looking at. These terms tend to be used, to benchmark a course against an accredited qualification. Which is really useful, but just keep in mind that, this might mean the curriculum is the same as an accredited qualification exactly. And, if that’s the case – why not go with an accredited course? At least then you know you’re getting a good quality version.

Take a look at our awesome Food Safety and GMP training courses…

Here at Techni-K

You’ll not find any accredited, endorsed, approved or certified training on our website. That’s because we don’t need any flashy badges to tell us how good we are. And, the only opinions that matter to us – is yours.

We want our training to speak for itself, because we know that it really adds value – as it’s up-to-date, relevant to today’s standards and is designed specifically for the food manufacturing industry.

Thoughts?

We’d love to know what you think about this subject – what type of training would you pick and why? Just add your comments below.

Have your say…

10 thoughts on “Is an accredited qualification a requirement of the Standard?

  1. We have just drawn up an in-house food safety training programme suited for our factory requirements – a poultry abattoir.

    There are elements of a Level 2 course that we have maintained in our training – microbiology, food poisoning etc. but we did concentrate on how specific topics relate to abattoirs, knife decontamination and sterilization etc. We did not cover cooking temperatures at all with the exception of showing where they fall on a temperature range.

    The course we have designed fits better with our business than the level 2 and I can translate my booklet into their native languages as required and teach in a specific language group so they can discuss key points.

    1. Hi Julie,
      we are about to do the same for our production staff because there simply is very hard finding the time for anything else. But this in-house training is based on us, the techies´ knowledge. And we need to get our training straight from a trustworthy source. This is where external training can fit the purpose I think.

      Also, if there are requirements within the Standard, we are obliged to take the course. This will be beneficial with regards to keeping our business culture alive and also check the boxes regarding what training I as an employee must take. I.e. I can rely on that I get the training I got the right to since no one can say “there are no resources”.

  2. Training has always been a struggle for our company in terms of striking a balance with our staff. We have members of staff who have worked on site for 20+ years and who are extremely competent at their roles, but fear the classroom environment and exam situations.

    We thought about our training in great detail and have adopted an in house approach to the vast majority of food safety topics / areas. The most effective way for us has been for our trainers (who are accredited trainers) to attend accredited courses and then come back in house and teach the topic to our staff.

    This allows us to base the course around site specific examples and can help adapt the teaching methods to the skills of the staff on site. This has proved successful in meeting the criteria of our customers, whilst removing the stress from our staff.

      1. Unfortunately no dedicated trainers Tony, those trained as trainers undertake dual roles, so for instances the QA Manager will train HACCP, Allergen Control etc. We have one part time dedicated trainer who conducts inductions for new starters. Anything more food safety specific is trained out by our QA Team.

        1. Ok, then it sounds like for all others including us which is too bad.
          The food industry seems to struggle with manpower within QA areas…

  3. Hi everyone,
    Working in other parts of the EU, I can tell that accredited, certified, or endorsed trainings are typically British concepts, as is the recognition and accreditation of consultants. There are benefits and negatives for each system, and we must balance the need and purpose of training against the creativity and adaptation to everyone’s business. As you mentioned in the article, if accreditation / certification / endorsement means you can’t come with new ways of teaching, new methods or new content, the whole system is then biased. It just means that “every new trainer must do like the others”. If it’s only about the capability of training and knowledge on the topic, then it’s good. And in that case, it is not the company or the training that is validated, but the trainer.

    1. Mathieu,
      sounds reasonable! We follow BRC which is very British. The Swedish auditors need to look at the Standard through Swedish glasses because all of it is not possible to follow by the book.
      This is why the article about changing GFSI standard is so interesting and I still await the summary from Kassy 🙂

  4. Massive fan of in house directed training – spend your valuable training budget on proper “training to train” for your Trainer (s) or QA Manager – get decent resources to make it more memorable and specify your required outcomes properly. A skilled BRCGS auditor puts more emphasis on assessing if the individual knows what they are doing and what actions to take in scenarios than a paper record with a fancy logo. I have come across some awful Accredited / Certified and Endorsed training -in particular in HACCP (including whilst auditing in Europe where much emphasis is placed on a Qualification – and they vary so much ! ) . Must say though Techni-K are properly experts in this field – always seen delivery from their training courses.

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