Training Records

Keeping accurate training records for your staff will enable the effective running of your business or organisation. This information can assist you with appraisals, equal opportunities, recruitment and training, and may well play a role in making strategic operational decisions.

Training records also play an increasingly important part in helping you to pass 3rd party audits or inspections. You may be audited by your customers, or by a recognised organisation such as Investors in People. These organisations and awarding bodies will expect your company’s records to comply with their inspection criteria.

For training records to add value and contribute to the business, this requires a high degree of visibility and good maintenance of data. This is where most organisations struggle to effectively manage the information, which underpins operational capability and performance.

The most valuable asset within your organisation are your people, and the skills & knowledge they possess.

Who Should Have a Training Record?

Ideally, everyone in your organisation should have their own training record, although this is not essential. Records should be kept in a secure location to comply with The Data Protection Act 1998. Staff are entitled and can legally request to see their training record whenever they choose, so your organisation needs to comply with this.

What Information should be Included in a Training Record?

This depends on the nature of your business. The following items may need to be included for each member of staff:

  • The unique skills that form their overall job role
  • What equipment, tools, machinery or software do they use?
  • Their competence (skill) level for each of the above
  • What training was provided for each competency level across each skill?
  • When and where was this training, skill and knowledge provided?
  • Proof and evidence of their competence level(s), including statements of compliance and sign-off sheets if required
  • Cost details for the above, if required
  • Historical records for all previous training and changes to skill levels

It is best practice to ensure that anyone who has been trained agrees with their stated level of competence, and agrees to work to the standards set. Training alone does not always lead to competence. In many instances, some form of assessment should take place to determine competence. This information will be valuable in the event of disputes arising (i.e. workplace injury).

Paper-based Training Records vs. Electronic Training Records

Most organisations who have kept data for a long time use a paper-based approach. All records of attendance etc. are filed for future use. The major limitations with paper-based training records are:

  • Excessively bureaucratic and requires a significant amount of secure storage space
  • Very difficult to report on the data within them when dealing with large numbers of staff
  • Difficult to spot competence trends or to identify areas of weakness
  • Difficult to perform skill gap analysis reports
  • High volumes of paperwork to maintain

The usual electronic approaches can help avoid many of the issues above; however, they do present issues of their own, for example:

  • Spreadsheets are two-dimensional and cannot be used to easily track multiple training events through time
  • Databases require front-end user interfaces creating, prior to data population
  • Electronic files can get duplicated across your IT network, and in time you risk multiple owner/multiple revision scenarios
  • Training record administrators can leave your company, and any programming code or spreadsheet formulas then have to be understood by the next person