Training needs a cert

Pressure on the Institute of Environmental Management (IEM) to independently assess environmental management training from both training organisations and members alike has been steadily mounting. A year ago it became clear that it had to act, as Michelle Hocking, manager of professional development, explains.

Certification is unarguably going to have a big effect on the training market and we are already seeing the effect on this in the commercial sector as trainers vie to attract clients. For those purchasing training, to have a course independently assessed by a professional body such as the IEM reduces the amount of legwork needed to determine which are the quality courses. Such a signpost is also useful for individuals looking for training through the universities, either at first degree level or postgraduate level.

Quite a challenge. Yet innovation has always been a characteristic of developments at the IEM - one of the fastest growing professional bodies in the UK. The Institute always strives to reflect emerging professional structures and working patterns - we need to be relevant to our members at all times. This has been one of the key factors in developing the certification process.

Quality approach
It is with these principles in mind that the IEM has developed a process to assess training courses. Whilst the criteria are fixed, the approach which a training organisation may take in achieving those criteria is flexible. The IEM's role is to assess whether trainers are delivering to the overall criteria with a quality approach. This approach allows training organisations to match the delivery of courses and the assessment process to the needs of a particular group of people. So exactly what does this approach involve?

  • The Institute establishes a set of criteria (for example for Associate Membership) and quality criteria.
  • Assessors check that the scope and quality of course materials is compatible with areas of knowledge and learning outcomes. (There must also be procedures that ensure the course materials are kept up to date).
  • The training organisation has to demonstrate that it has the capability to deliver high quality environmental management training - and that its tutors have the right experience - both in terms of training and practical environmental management. Assessors will observe delivery of training.
  • The procedures for assessment of candidates with respect to learning outcomes must be effective.
The IEM's approach has been welcomed by many training organisations. Over the next year the new certification process will supersede the IEM's 'Signature of Commitment' scheme (see www.iem.org.uk) and build on the clear success of the IEM's Certificate in Environmental Management developed with the Engineering Employers Federation. The flexibility of the approach has been particularly helpful for some of the courses, which have traditionally been more difficult to assess - for example distance learning courses.

We have already recruited six assessors; all of whom have considerable experience with regard to training, environmental management and audit/assessment. Several courses have been certified to deliver training leading to Associate Membership (see below) and there are also two courses which have been assessed successfully to deliver the IEM's new Foundation certificate course (which is designed as a short introduction to environmental management).

So what of the future? The IEM is investigating the possibilities of expanding certification to a wider range of courses using the same assessment procedures but with different criteria at the front end. We are particularly interested in seeing certification supporting the Institute's CPD process.

Which courses have joined the pilot? For an up to date list please refer to the Institute's web site, at www.iem.org.uk.

Foundation Certificate courses
Aspects International. John Betts Tel: 01925 852856
EEF Broadway House. Helen Woolston Tel: 0171 222 7777

Associate Membership courses
Wye College, UCL (distance learning). Paul Smith Tel: 01233 812401
British Safety Council. Jim Wylie Tel: 0181 7423434
University of Bath (distance learning). Marie Fraser Tel: 01225 826878
Bell College of Technology. Kevin Sinclair Tel: 01698 283100
ACT Associates. Ian Coombes Tel: 01384 442144

IEM Certificate in Environmental Management courses
EEF Broadway House, Abigail Ferris Tel: 0171 222 7777
EEF Western (SMC), David Dickerson Tel: 0117 973 1471
EEF South, Ken Jordan Tel: 01256 763969
EEF East Midlands, Ian Taylor Tel: 01572 723711
EEF Sheffield, Chris Streatfield Tel: 0114 2680671
EEF North West, Rob Habgood Tel: 0161 7889611
Woodland Grange, Robin Bloodworth Tel: 01926 336621


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