ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.2 Competence

The organization shall:

  1. determine the necessary competence of person(s) doing work under its control that affects the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system;
  2. ensure that these persons are competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, or experience;
  3. where applicable, take actions to acquire the necessary competence, and evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken;
  4. retain appropriate documented information as evidence of competence.

NOTE Applicable actions can include, for example, the provision of training to, the mentoring of, or the reassignment of currently employed persons; or the hiring or contracting of competent persons.

1) Determine the necessary competence of person(s) doing work under its control that affects the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system

Determining the necessary competence of the workforce is a critical aspect of organizational planning and development. Competence refers to the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes that employees need to effectively perform their roles and contribute to the organization’s success. Here are the steps an organization can take to determine the necessary competence of its workforce:

  1. Identify Organizational Goals and Strategy:
    • Understand the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic objectives.
    • Determine how each department or team contributes to these goals.
  2. Conduct Job Analysis:
    • Break down each job role into its key responsibilities, tasks, and duties.
    • Identify the skills, knowledge, and attributes required to perform each task effectively.
  3. Engage Stakeholders:
    • Consult with managers, team leaders, and employees to gain insights into the competencies they believe are essential for success in their roles.
    • Gather input from cross-functional teams to ensure a comprehensive perspective.
  4. Research Industry Standards:
    • Research industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies.
    • Understand the competencies that are in high demand within the industry.
  5. Develop Competency Framework:
    • Create a competency framework that outlines the key competencies required for different job roles and levels within the organization.
    • Categorize competencies into technical, soft skills, leadership, communication, and more.
  6. Prioritize Competencies:
    • Rank the identified competencies based on their importance and relevance to the organization’s goals.
    • Consider which competencies are critical for immediate success and which are important for future growth.
  7. Map Competencies to Job Roles:
    • Match the prioritized competencies to specific job roles.
    • Tailor the competencies for different levels within the organization (e.g., entry-level, mid-level, senior).
  8. Assess Current Workforce:
    • Evaluate the existing skills and competencies of the current workforce.
    • Identify gaps between the required competencies and the skills employees currently possess.
  9. Perform Training Needs Assessment:
    • Determine which employees require training, development, or upskilling to bridge the competency gaps.
    • Prioritize training programs based on urgency and impact.
  10. Design Learning and Development Initiatives:
    • Develop training programs that align with the identified competencies.
    • Use a mix of training methods, such as workshops, e-learning, mentoring, and on-the-job training.
  11. Integrate Competencies into Performance Management:
    • Incorporate the identified competencies into performance evaluation criteria.
    • Regularly assess employees’ competency development and growth.
  12. Review and Adapt:
    • Regularly review and update the competency framework to align with changing business needs and industry shifts.
    • Seek feedback from employees and managers about the effectiveness of competency-based initiatives.
  13. Align Recruitment and Selection:
    • Use the competency framework to guide recruitment efforts.
    • Craft job descriptions that clearly state the required competencies for each role.
  14. Monitor and Evaluate:
    • Continuously monitor the impact of competency development efforts on employee performance and organizational outcomes.
    • Make adjustments based on data and feedback.

Determining necessary competencies requires a collaborative effort involving HR professionals, managers, employees, and other stakeholders. It’s an ongoing process that ensures the organization’s workforce remains adaptable and aligned with its strategic objectives.

2) Ensure that these persons are competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, or experience

Ensuring that employees are competent through appropriate education, training, or experience is essential for the organization’s success and growth. Here’s how an organization can achieve this:

  1. Education Requirements:
    • Clearly define the educational qualifications needed for each job role. This could include specific degrees, certifications, or licenses.
    • Consider industry standards and regulatory requirements when setting education criteria.
    • Collaborate with educational institutions to establish partnerships that provide relevant education to employees.
  2. Training Programs:
    • Develop comprehensive training programs that align with the competencies required for each role.
    • Offer both onboarding training for new hires and ongoing training for current employees to ensure they stay up-to-date with industry advancements.
    • Provide a mix of formal training, workshops, seminars, online courses, and hands-on experience.
  3. Experience Evaluation:
    • Clearly outline the level of experience required for different job roles.
    • Use competency-based interview techniques to assess candidates’ practical experience during the hiring process.
    • Provide opportunities for employees to gain experience through cross-functional projects, job rotations, and stretch assignments.
  4. Professional Development:
    • Encourage employees to engage in continuous learning and professional development.
    • Offer resources and support for employees to attend conferences, workshops, and seminars related to their field.
    • Provide mentorship and coaching programs to help employees develop their skills and competencies.
  5. Certifications and Credentials:
    • Identify relevant industry certifications and credentials that enhance employees’ competence.
    • Support employees in obtaining these certifications by offering financial assistance or study leave.
  6. Performance Assessments:
    • Regularly assess employees’ performance against the established competencies and job requirements.
    • Use performance evaluations to identify areas for improvement and create personalized development plans.
  7. Feedback and Coaching:
    • Provide regular feedback to employees on their performance and areas for growth.
    • Offer coaching and guidance to help employees develop the skills and competencies they need.
  8. Recognition and Rewards:
    • Recognize and reward employees who demonstrate exceptional competence and growth.
    • Link competency development to career progression and promotions within the organization.
  9. Learning Management Systems (LMS):
    • Implement an LMS to provide easy access to training materials, online courses, and resources for employees to enhance their skills.
    • Track employees’ progress and completion of training programs through the LMS.
  10. Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing:
    • Foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing where employees can learn from each other’s experiences.
    • Encourage employees to share best practices and insights within the organization.
  11. Regular Review and Improvement:
    • Continuously review the effectiveness of education, training, and experience requirements.
    • Update requirements based on industry changes, emerging technologies, and organizational needs.

By focusing on education, training, and experience, organizations can cultivate a workforce that is equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their roles and drive the organization forward.

3) where applicable, take actions to acquire the necessary competence, and evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken;

Acquiring necessary competence and evaluating the effectiveness of those actions are crucial steps for organizational success. Here’s how an organization can approach this:

Acquiring Necessary Competence:

  1. Training and Development Programs: Develop and implement training programs that address identified competency gaps. Offer a mix of internal and external training opportunities, workshops, seminars, and e-learning modules.
  2. Collaboration and Cross-Functional Projects: Encourage collaboration between teams and departments to share knowledge and skills. Assign employees to cross-functional projects to gain new competencies and perspectives.
  3. External Partnerships and Consultants: Partner with external experts, consultants, or training providers to deliver specialized training. Leverage their expertise to accelerate competence development.
  4. Job Rotation and Promotion: Implement job rotation programs that allow employees to gain experience in different roles. Promote from within the organization to reward and retain employees with developed competencies.
  5. Mentorship and Coaching: Establish mentorship programs where experienced employees guide and mentor others. Provide coaching for employees to enhance their skills and competencies.
  6. Feedback and Performance Improvement:Use regular feedback mechanisms to guide employees in their competency development. Focus on areas of improvement and growth.
  7. Training plan: Top management provide should guidance on company strategy and objectives on an annual basis to all managers who consider the implications on their department and plan training needs accordingly, in line with the requirements of the company business plan. Your organization should summarizes major training initiatives and activities planned for a given budget year. Line Managers and Supervisor should develop, implement and monitor a training plan for the workers in their teams, based on the outcome of the Training Needs Analysis (TNA). Training plans must be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are up to date and meet current demands.
  8. Training needs analysis: Identification of employee training needs is typically the first step in developing a competency-based training programme. In addition to existing workers, new hires, temporary workers and outside contractors must be included when identifying training needs. Your organization must demonstrate that the training needs for these employees were identified.Your organization should operate a comprehensive training programme. All employees should receive training as identified by an initial training needs assessment. The training requirements for employees must be assessed against wider organizational policies and objectives. Line Managers and Supervisors often determine the training required for workers under their supervision to fill the gap in training, knowledge, competence and skills of each person and the training required to satisfy any applicable hazard and task specific competencies. Where skill deficiencies are identified or when competencies expire, appropriate training, retraining and/or supervision must be provided before work commences or continues so that employees can perform their designated duties competently and without risk to health and safety. Gaps in training, knowledge or competence must be identified and filled. Line Managers and Supervisors should monitor the abilities of all their workers, their responsibilities and ensure the ongoing monitoring and review of employee competencies. Appropriate training requirements can be further identified through this process using a Competency Review Form. Training needs are also determined during the appraisals process where any needs identified are derived from annual appraisals and personal development reviews.
  9. Competence matrix : The aim of the competence matrix is to support the Human Resources Manager and Line Managers to ensure that training is targeted, managed, effective and comprehensive. A suitable matrix should be produced for each workplace. After developing a list of these employees, the Management Representative or the Human Resources Manager should establish the appropriate training programme for each worker, based on the type of employee interaction with each significant impact or risk. Other requirements for the position such as legislative requirements, including license requirements (e.g. radiation user’s license, high risk work license) should also be identified. The training needs can then be incorporated into individual annual appraisals and personal development reviews. Where employees are unskilled in the required task, or expired mandatory and statutory competencies are identified, appropriate training or re-training should be provided prior to commencement of work. Employee training and re-training is recorded, monitored and kept up to date by their Line Manager and Supervisor. The aim of the competence matrix is to support the Human Resources Manager and Line Managers to ensure that training is targeted, managed, effective and comprehensive. A suitable matrix should be produced for each workplace. After developing a list of these employees, the Management Representative or the Human Resources Manager should establish the appropriate training programme for each worker, based on the type of employee interaction with each significant impact or risk. Other requirements for the position such as legislative requirements, including license requirements (e.g. radiation user’s license, high risk work license) should also be identified. The training needs can then be incorporated into individual annual appraisals and personal development reviews.
  10. Specialist training: Additional specialist training for particular workers may be identified through the training needs analysis with input from job safety analysis forms and risk assessments, and may include hazard-specific training (e.g. hazardous chemicals, electrical safety, manual handling, confined spaces, etc.), prescribed training for licensing requirements (e.g. ionizing radiation, diving, forklift) or health and safety responsibilities training (e.g. H&S, first aiders, or emergency control personnel).
    • On-the-job training: On-the-job training should bes provided by a more experienced employee or by an external trainer, skilled in the requirements of that particular activity as indicated by their training record. The responsible person, together with the employee, ensures that the required level is achieved after undergoing training. Line Managers and Supervisors should be responsible for:
      • Nominating training mentor;
      • Devising basic training plan;
      • Ensure training is provided;
      • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the training (during the appraisal process).
      • Training records should be updated when a competence is attained.
    • Annual appraisal reviews: Training needs are also identified through the Annual Appraisal Review process. The Human Resources Manager and the Line Managers and Supervisors should be responsible for sourcing suitable training from an approved provider and for precourse arrangements and administration. The training is provided as per the plan, whilst training effectiveness is discussed and reviewed during the appraisal process. Appraisal reviews establish the need for additional training or other actions to enhance personnel competency levels. Annual appraisal reviews should be undertaken by the Line Manager or Supervisor and the employee:
      • Further training needs may be identified and recorded on the employee’s training plan;
      • The training plan is updated on a regular basis by the Line Manager to reflect the training status;
      • Each employee is encouraged to request further training to aid their personal development.
      • The completed appraisal documents should be passed onto the Human Resources Manager for review and any new training needs that are identified, are added to the training plan. It should be noted that performance evaluations are considered confidential information between the employee, supervisor and Human Resources.
    • Career development: Competence and skills are subject to technological development; therefore, the Human Resources Manager should present training, competence and awareness data and trends for management review. Top management should review customer requirements to identify any new training requirements, e.g. training for new equipment, tools or processes.
      • Product or service training;
      • The use of, and maintenance of measuring equipment and tools;
      • Techniques for process management and mapping;
      • Problem solving methodologies;
      • Internal quality auditing techniques.
    • Contractor training: Line Managers and Supervisors who engage contractors are responsible for providing a local area induction and for ensuring that the contractors are provided with information about potential known hazards of the environment in which they work. Records of contractor’s competency or licenses, their induction must be retained.

    Evaluating Effectiveness:

    1. Performance Metrics:
      • Define key performance indicators (KPIs) related to competencies.
      • Measure changes in performance, productivity, and quality before and after competency development efforts.
    2. Feedback and Surveys:
      • Gather feedback from employees who have undergone competency development initiatives.
      • Use surveys to assess the perceived impact on their roles and performance.
    3. Managerial Assessments:
      • Involve managers in evaluating employees’ competency growth.
      • Managers can provide insights on employees’ improved performance and behavior changes.
    4. Before-and-After Comparison:
      • Compare employee performance and competency levels before and after training or development initiatives.
      • This can help quantify the impact of the actions taken.
    5. Observations and Peer Reviews:
      • Encourage colleagues to provide feedback on changes they observe in an employee’s competence.
      • Peer reviews can offer insights into how well new competencies are integrated into work routines.
    6. Employee Engagement and Retention:
      • Monitor employee engagement levels and retention rates.
      • Higher engagement and retention can indicate the effectiveness of competency development initiatives.
    7. Adaptation and Improvement:
      • Continuously gather data on the outcomes of competency development efforts.
      • Use this data to adapt and improve programs based on the observed results.

    Remember that competency development is an ongoing process. Regularly assessing and adapting your approach is essential to ensure that the organization’s efforts are aligned with its goals and that employees continue to develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their roles.

    4) Retain appropriate documented information as evidence of competence.

    Maintaining appropriate records as evidence of competence is essential for several reasons, including regulatory compliance, employee development tracking, performance evaluations, and demonstrating organizational competency to stakeholders. Here’s how an organization can ensure it has the necessary records:

    1. Employee Profiles:
      • Maintain detailed profiles for each employee, including their education, training, certifications, and work experience.
      • Keep these profiles updated as employees acquire new competencies.
    2. Training Records:
      • Document all training and development activities attended by employees.
      • Include details such as the training topic, date, duration, and outcomes.
    3. Certifications and Licenses:
      • Keep records of any certifications, licenses, or credentials obtained by employees.
      • Note expiration dates and renewal requirements.
    4. Performance Assessments:
      • Document performance assessments that evaluate employees’ competencies.
      • Include feedback from managers, peers, and self-assessments.
    5. Development Plans:
      • Record individual development plans that outline the competencies employees are working to acquire.
      • Track progress over time and update plans as needed.
    6. Competency Framework:
      • Maintain a comprehensive competency framework that outlines the required competencies for each role.
      • Regularly review and update the framework as needed.
    7. Learning Management System (LMS):
      • If using an LMS, ensure it tracks employees’ completion of training modules and courses.
      • Use the system to generate reports on competency development.
    8. Feedback and Recognition:
      • Keep records of positive feedback, awards, and recognitions received by employees for demonstrating competencies.
    9. Job Descriptions:
      • Ensure that job descriptions clearly state the required competencies for each role.
      • Keep these descriptions updated to reflect any changes.
    10. Project and Task Accomplishments:
      • Document instances where employees successfully applied their acquired competencies to complete projects or tasks.
    11. External Certifications and Audits:
      • Maintain records of any external certifications, audits, or assessments related to competency standards.
    12. Retention Policies:
      • Establish retention policies for competency-related records to ensure compliance with legal and industry standards.
    13. Data Security and Privacy:
      • Ensure that the stored records adhere to data security and privacy regulations.
      • Protect sensitive employee information from unauthorized access.
    14. Centralized Database:
      • Maintain a centralized and organized database for easy access and retrieval of competency-related records.
    15. Regular Audits:
      • Periodically conduct audits to ensure that the records are accurate, up-to-date, and complete.

    Having well-maintained records serves as evidence of the organization’s commitment to employee development and compliance. It also facilitates strategic decision-making, helps identify trends in competency development, and supports succession planning efforts.

    5) Applicable actions can include, for example, the provision of training to, the mentoring of, or the reassignment of currently employed persons; or the hiring or contracting of competent persons.

    the actions to acquire necessary competence can vary based on the organization’s context and needs. Here are some applicable actions that the organization can take to acquire the required competence:

    1. Training and Development:
      • Provide targeted training programs to employees to enhance their skills and competencies.
      • Offer workshops, seminars, online courses, and hands-on training to address specific competency gaps.
    2. Mentoring and Coaching:
      • Pair less experienced employees with seasoned professionals who can mentor and guide them.
      • Use mentorship programs to transfer knowledge and skills from experienced individuals to others.
    3. Reassignment and Job Rotation:
      • Move employees to different roles or projects where they can acquire new competencies.
      • Job rotation exposes employees to diverse experiences and skill sets.
    4. Hiring or Contracting:
      • Recruit new employees who possess the required competencies for critical roles.
      • Contract external experts or consultants for short-term projects or specialized knowledge.
    5. Upskilling and Reskilling:
      • Invest in programs that upskill or reskill existing employees to adapt to changing job requirements.
      • Equip employees with new competencies to stay relevant in evolving industries.
    6. Collaboration and Cross-Functional Teams:
      • Create cross-functional teams where employees from different departments collaborate.
      • Encourage knowledge sharing and skill exchange across teams.
    7. External Partnerships:
      • Partner with educational institutions, training providers, and industry associations to offer specialized training.
      • Leverage external expertise to enhance employees’ competencies.
    8. Promotion from Within:
      • Identify and promote high-potential employees who have demonstrated the required competencies.
      • Reward and retain employees who show growth in their roles.
    9. Learning Communities:
      • Establish communities of practice where employees can share knowledge and learn from each other.
      • Encourage peer-to-peer learning and support.
    10. Continuous Learning Culture:
      • Foster a culture of continuous learning where employees are encouraged to seek new knowledge and skills.
      • Provide resources and platforms for self-directed learning.
    11. Feedback and Improvement:
      • Collect feedback from employees regarding their training experiences and competency development.
      • Use feedback to improve the effectiveness of training programs.
    12. Employee Surveys:
      • Conduct surveys to identify competency gaps and gather insights from employees about their development needs.
    13. Technology Adoption:
      • Invest in technology solutions that enable employees to acquire new technical skills.
      • Provide access to tools and platforms that enhance their digital competencies.
    14. Performance-Based Incentives:
      • Offer incentives, bonuses, or rewards to employees who achieve specific competency milestones.
      • Link competency development to compensation and recognition.
    15. Reverse Mentoring:
      • Encourage younger or less experienced employees to mentor more senior employees.
      • Reverse mentoring can bridge generation gaps and introduce new perspectives.

    The choice of actions depends on factors such as the organization’s goals, available resources, and the specific competencies needed. Combining several of these actions can create a well-rounded approach to acquiring necessary competence within the organization.

    Documented Information Required:

    There is a mandatory requirement of Competence Records:

    • Maintain records of personnel qualifications, skills, training, and experience.
    • These records should demonstrate that personnel have the necessary competence to perform their roles effectively.

    Other records required to demonstrate compliance are as follows

    1. Training Plans and Records:
      • Document training plans for employees, outlining the required competencies and skills for each job role.
      • Keep records of training sessions attended, courses completed, and training outcomes.
    2. Job Descriptions:
      • Maintain up-to-date job descriptions that outline the competencies, skills, and qualifications required for each position.
      • These descriptions provide clarity about the expectations for each role.
    3. Competency Assessments:
      • Conduct competency assessments to evaluate employees’ skills and knowledge.
      • Keep records of assessment results and any actions taken based on the results.
    4. Training and Development Programs:
      • Document the training and development programs implemented to enhance employees’ competencies.
      • Include details such as training objectives, content, methods, and participants.
    5. Training Needs Assessments:
      • Document the process of assessing employees’ training needs to identify competency gaps.
      • This assessment informs the design of training programs.
    6. Mentorship and Coaching Plans:
      • If mentorship or coaching programs are implemented, document the plans and objectives.
      • Include details about the mentors, mentees, and the skills being transferred.
    7. External Expertise or Consultation:
      • If external experts or consultants are engaged to address competency gaps, maintain records of their involvement and recommendations.
    8. Certifications and Licenses:
      • Keep records of employees’ certifications, licenses, and professional memberships relevant to their roles.
    9. Performance Reviews:
      • Document performance reviews that assess employees’ competence and skill development.
      • Record feedback from managers and supervisors regarding competence improvements.
    10. Feedback and Improvement Plans:
      • Document feedback received from employees about training programs and competency development initiatives.
      • Use this feedback to improve future programs.
    11. Competency Framework:
      • Maintain a framework that outlines the required competencies for various job roles within the organization.
      • The framework provides a reference for assessing and developing competence.

    It’s important to note that the specific documents and records required may vary based on the organization’s size, industry, and complexity. ISO 9001:2015 emphasizes the need for evidence to demonstrate compliance with the standard’s requirements, so maintaining accurate and organized records is essential for effective quality management and successful audits.

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