Waste management industry sets up National Training Organisation

The waste management sector has made a major advance in the training of staff in the industry with the announcement at Torbay that a new National Training Organisation - WINTO - is being launched. In a special report for LAWE, Pat Jennings, waste management journalist and a former Editor of the IWM Journal, outlines the key elements of this welcome initiative

Education and training for the waste management industry took a significant step forward at the Institute of Wastes Management (IWM) conference in Torbay in June with the announcement of the successful formation of WINTO (Waste Industry National Training Organisation) and the appointment of Tony Hirons as its Chief Executive

"There is insufficient training currently being undertaken, less than the average for all industries... Even though industry was involved with its inception, the COTC system, whilst improving quality in the industry, is imposing significant costs...
"There is clearly some improvement taking place, but training that is more clearly focused on the needs of the industry would allow the industry to develop further and increase its professionalism and so attract the best recruits. The formation of an NTO for the waste management industry should help, enabling training needs to be comprehensively evaluated and addressed in a structured manner."

Skills training
The Chairman of the WINTO Board, the Earl of Arran, emphasised in his address the importance of ensuring that the workforce in the waste management sector has the necessary skills for professional status. Reinforcing this view, IWM Deputy Chief Executive, Chris Murphy, said: "This initiative highlights the commitment of the three organisations involved to improving training, education and professional recognition at all levels and the response from the industry has been very positive."

WINTO's new Chief Executive, Tony Hirons, has been in the waste management industry for a number of years, most recently serving as Chief Executive of the Energy from Waste Association, and prior to that as the Press & PR Manager for the IWM. He also headed up the external affairs and PR function at BTEC (British Training & Education Council), the leading body for vocational qualifications in the UK, for six years.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Hirons said the first priority for the new NTO is to review the current training and education situation within the industry and to consult as widely as possible to assess the needs of both employers and employees.
"Based on our findings," he said, "WINTO will then seek to build on the work of WAMITAB and develop and co-ordinate a strategy to deliver a comprehensive programme of vocational qualifications across the full range of sectoral needs within the waste management industry.

"Acting as a focal point for the industry, WINTO will aim to promote investment in people throughout the industry and build a culture of life long learning, as well as strengthening the image of waste management as a professional career.

"One of the key objectives of the WINTO board is to ensure that the training and education needs of SMEs are met, as these companies face the greatest challenge when it comes to investment in training and employee development.

"We also recognise the need to develop the UK industry's competitiveness in Europe by keeping in touch with training and education developments at European level and ensuring UK participation in any European-funded projectswhich focus on this area."

Wide consultation
The negotiations which have led to the formation of WINTO have included dialogue with the Department for Education (DfE) but the organisation as yet does not have formal Government approval.

"The Government template for an NTO is 500,000 industry employees and the waste industry does not fall within this category," Mr Hirons explained. "However, the three participating organisations felt that this initiative is important to the future of the waste management industry and the aim is to proceed according to DfE guidelines and demonstrate that WINTO works. To gain official Government approval, we will need to show that the organisation is seen as relevant and effective by both the industry (represented by ESA) and individual employees (represented by the IWM).

Developing the framework
"It will also be essential to include other stakeholders in the consultation as we develop the framework for WINTO, and these will include the Local Government Association, universities and colleges and City & Guilds. In this way, we can ensure that future training and education provision is as comprehensive and effective as possible."


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