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How competent is your workforce?

Often in the workplace there can be a gap between employee qualifications and their actual competency in a particular area. Verification of competency (VOC) is a type of assessment designed to identify and close this gap. VOC can be used to determine the adequacy of a person’s knowledge, skills and experience in the use of particular equipment, in performing particular tasks, or working safely in high-risk environments – like working at height or in confined spaces.


Having experienced VOC assessments as both a participant and an experienced trainer and assessor, Coates Hire’s Michael Forrest talks us through what VOC is; why it’s important; and when businesses should invest in it.  


What is verification of competency?


Just because someone has a trade qualification or an equipment licence doesn’t mean they also have the right skills and experience to perform this type of work, or use this type of equipment, Michael explains. “The role of VOC is to perform theoretical and practical assessments to make sure a person’s licence or qualification matches their ability to perform work safely and competently – whether it’s digging, driving, lifting or parking.”


Why is VOC important?


Although there is no legal requirement for conducting VOC, employers do have a duty of care to create safe workplaces and to show due diligence towards safety. The VOC process allows employers to meet this duty of care, ensuring workers are capable of using safe work methods to operate equipment. 


Being able to competently operate equipment affects how quickly and efficiently people can perform their work. VOC prevents businesses from wasting time hiring people who have the right licence or qualification, but lack the skill to do the job properly. “Naturally, employers want the highest skilled workers that they can get. VOC not only provides confidence that people can work safely, but that they are capable of working efficiently too,” says Michael.


Having a competent workforce also reduces the potential for damage to major equipment assets. If someone can’t operate equipment properly or safely, it’s more likely that it will be damaged through safety incidents and misuse, which can result in costly repairs.


When should businesses invest in VOC?


Businesses invest in VOC for a variety of reasons. 


“In the mining industry these assessments commonly serve as a precursor to employment, as a way of screening the true skills and competency of new recruits,” says Michael. “In an industry where safety and performance are paramount, the VOC process ensures businesses take on people who are qualified on paper, and have the necessary competency on the job.”


Another reason why many businesses perform VOC is to determine when additional training is required. 


“When workers have held licences for a very long time it can be helpful to periodically refresh training, renew skills and re-assess competency,” says Michael. “Sometimes you encounter people who have a current licence or qualification, but they’ve never actually had to put those skills into practice. VOC can highlight any competency gaps for all of these workers.”


There are also some types of equipment, like earthmovers, that don’t require operators to complete high-risk competency based training prior to use. VOC is a particularly important tool for industries that use this type of equipment, to make sure workers have all of the necessary skills that they need to work safely. 


As a registered training organisation Coates Hire provides a comprehensive range of training and assessment services. Reach out to Coates Hire today for all your training needs – or find your local branch.

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