“competence is not just a qualification or experience it is a combination of qualifications, experience, knowledge, ability and life”
I made the above phrase up, I’m quite proud of it, I believe it’s a better definition than found elsewhere, I might be a wee bit biased. In this day and age we as either individuals, companies or staff have to prove competence. The most common route taken by employers is the use of exams or awareness courses. They are cheap, convenient, quick, often online, and very few failures as frequently there are multiple attempts at the assessment. Are they giving the correct or desired outcome, proving competence or just providing an easy framework for employers to try and demonstrate competence? There is a place for these especially with practical courses such as first aid.
I come across this every day in health and safety, a responsible person, a suitable person, there is never a definite description of what makes these people able to carry out the desired task. An example of this recently is all these individuals doing their own covid-19 risk assessments, from what I’ve seen most have looked at guidance and put that in place, guidance is as it says on the tin, guidance!, it is not a risk assessment, stated in the guidance is to ensure you haven’t made things worse, check against original risk assessment. Putting a few screens up and providing sanitizer is not the answer, not a full risk assessment, it is amateurish carried out by amateurs, putting people lives at risk. This is why controls introduced in pubs are not working.
We have all met them, the highly qualified with no common sense or the one with all the common sense but without any recognized qualifications. Neither would be ideal competent persons however a combination might be, especially if you add a number of other considerations. Years of experience and knowledge, good employment records, good assessments and references to prove ability with a lifetime experiences in socializing, team work, personal and family achievements.
Membership of a recognized trade organisation, especially if they also require participation in a CPD, continuous professional development, program to maintain your level is another good way to demonstrate competence as they take into account a combination of qualifications, experience, knowledge and ability.
Do we as businesses or business owners allow an employee without a driving license to drive the company vehicle? Would we operate a company vehicle without an mot or insurance? Do you represent yourself in legal situations, how about all your account? Need an electrician, nah, do it yourself, sure there will be a YouTube video which will help.
So why choose an expert?
To ensure compliance, to leave you to concentrate on what you are good at, to have the job done right, to build trust in staff and other business partners, safety, fines, penalties, satisfy customers, reduce accident/ incident levels, better community relations, improve culture, the list goes on.
Part of the problem we have here in the uk is the lack of inspectors, an example is the number of tax inspectors, they are in the very low numbers compared with say the DWP inspectors which are in the high numberss. We have the same problem with the lack of HSE inspectors, council inspectors, fire service inspectors etc. This unfortunately encourages short cuts or non compliance even though there are legal obligations, chances of being caught! The old saying of buy cheap buy twice also comes in here, think of the benefits of utilizing an expert as opposed to the cost, the costs when things go wrong could be great especially with deliberate non compliance.
The final point I would like to make is as an employer, owner or manager, you know the rules, you know the penalties, you have a choice, do your employees have that same choice?