On the job assessment works
12 May 2014
Those of us of a certain age will remember exam time with trepidation. Our whole future (or so it seemed) rested upon two hours in a dusty, hot school hall. Six or so years of learning and experience had to be condensed into one short period of time – not the most practical or comfortable of experiences.
The current approach for GCSEs in mainstream education means that the majority of assessment takes place throughout the academic year via coursework. Exams still play an important role, but they are not the ‘be all and end all’ that they were – a much more sensible approach. However, there are plans going through at the moment that will mean things will revert back to the linear system of O Level days, where everything rests on exams taken at the end of two years’ study, rather than on modules taken at various stages over two years.
In a workplace setting, on-the job assessments as a way to gain qualifications bring major benefits for both employers and employees. They help to make the process of career progression easier by fitting into the working day, and the absence of an ‘official’ exam or test can help to calm nerves, so that a more authentic result is achieved.
The cleaning, facilities management, and waste and recycling industries need people with practical skills, so this assessment method offers the best solution. You could assess some aspects of tasks such as graffiti removal, clinical waste collection and vehicle or machinery operations through a written test – but without the practical ability to actually perform these activities to an acceptable, recognised standard, the results are not worth the paper they are written on.
This is the central tenet of Validate, a new modular programme from WAMITAB that assesses the competence of operatives in the workplace. It has a strong focus on health and safety – a crucial aspect in our sector – and as assessment is undertaken on-the-job, this complements and supports the established in-house training programmes of individual companies and organisations, and values relevant work experience.
Qualifications and competency programmes need to be ‘employer-responsive’ – not only assessing proficiency and compliance, but also doing this in a way that fits in with the lifestyle of the employee, and the work schedules of the organisation itself. This adaptability means that companies should no longer be reticent about offering development programmes to its staff, and the recognition and reward element can also help with the recruitment and retention of high-quality employees.
Written by Chris James, CEO of WAMITAB