Getting regulators on board with modern learning programs

Behavioral change | 02-05-23

It’s time to bite the bullet: your organization wants to pursue a new method of keeping your staff’s skills up to scratch and being able to demonstrate those skills. After all, traditional learning methods based on exams and certificates don’t cut it when it comes to minimizing mistakes and accidents in the workplace. But there’s just one thing standing in the way of you completely abandoning old-fashioned learning methods altogether: authorities and regulators. They still require periodic certification to demonstrate employees’ competence through classroom training and/or exams. Or do they? Maybe there’s a way around this through dialog and discussion.

Compulsory certification

Practically every organization is subject to legislation, regulations and protocols drawn up by authorities and regulators, all to ensure the level of quality and safety of operations. On the one hand, there are general government laws and regulations and, on the other hand, sector-specific directives from industry associations. But they have one thing in common: they are all used to set out the requirements for the skills that employees need to have. And this makes sense, because it’s an important factor in ensuring compliance. In order to demonstrate employees’ competencies, most regulators and authorities ask for a certificate to be obtained every now and then.

One major disadvantage of this periodic certification, however, is that it merely provides a snapshot. When an employee obtains a certificate, they are at a peak in their knowledge. You provided training, employees took it and learned enough to obtain the certificate. But a few months or even weeks later, a lot of that knowledge has already been lost (the notorious forgetting curve), and it is doubtful whether employees are still fully competent. No wonder your organization is looking at doing things differently.

Old and new side-by-side

Your organization is eager to introduce a modern professional development program to help keep your people continuously competent. But those regulators and authorities are still demanding certificates every two years, if not annually. While this shouldn’t prevent organizations from introducing a new program in theory, it can mean double the workload if you introduce new learning methods but still need to issue certificates. After all, your employees have already demonstrated their skills through the training program itself. So, why should you need to make their lives more difficult with the added stress of certification?

Inviting them to the table

There is an assumption that regulators and authorities are just stuck in their ways and want to keep that routine certification requirement for the sake of it. But nothing could be further from the truth. These institutions often simply don’t know how things could be done better. If you get them around the table at the very start of your project, you can teach them about the new methodology. Here at Drillster, this approach has served us well. In our experience, regulators and authorities are often very enthusiastic about modern training programs when they see the results they produce. Ultimately, what matters to them is ensuring quality and safety in the workplace. And with solid evidence that modern methodologies are much more effective at this than traditional learning methods, this tends to convince them to focus on substance over style.

Wrong perception

In our experience, the obstacles that organizations are afraid of aren’t actually that insurmountable after all. So, why hold on to that old routine certificate-based method if you don’t even need to? Simply invite regulators and authorities to the table early in the process, tell them about your vision, and show them the results that modern learning methodologies can produce. Chances are that your employees will have to suffer the burden of certification no more, and your organization will be able to move toward continuous competence. No authority or regulator can deny how much this benefits quality and safety in the workplace.

Would you like to know how KLM Cargo talked the authorities round to their learning method? Read the case article ‘How KLM Cargo’s learning method replaced the recurrent exam’.