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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

7.2   Competence 

You will recall under clause 5.1.1e  top management is responsible for ensuring the availability of resources  which includes human resources. Clause 5.3 requires top management to  define the organization and its responsibilities and authorities. Clause 7.1.2 required that  adequate resources  (e.g. HR) be determined and provided. And here in clause 7.2 the  specific competency requirements for QMS work are defined. 

Planning for competency  controls must include determining - competency criteria; skills evaluation; identification of training needs; types of training; provision of training; how training effectiveness is evaluated. 

Although training may end up being the best solution, don’t overlook other actions, such as, changing processes, improving procedures, rotating jobs, outsourcing, or recruiting fully training people. 

Criteria for  competency   must be developed based on appropriate education, skills, training and experience for activities, tasks, functions and processes. The level and detail of such qualifications, skills, training and experience will depend upon the complexity of product, process, technology and customer and regulatory requirements. 

Job requirements could range from entry level to CEO and everything in between – engineers, salespeople, managers, supervisors, production workers, etc. Education may be defined as the process of acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment to prepare intellectually for mature life. Education  requirements will vary accordingly and may range from a university degree, college diploma and high school graduate to no educational background. Each organization will have to determine the education requirements of the job mix that it has and update it based on historical employee performance and changing dynamics of the business and job market. 

Skills  relate to your ability to perform certain tasks related to your job. Skills may be categorized into hard and soft skills.  

·   Hard skills deal with specific knowledge & abilities such as technical, IT, leadership, management, problem-solving, time management, language, etc. Hard skills are learned through education.  

·   Soft  skills deal with attributes and personality traits that relate to how well you fit in the organization and include communicative, inter-personal, verbal, awareness, flexibility, team-work, etc. Soft skills are learned through on the job experience. 

Work Experience  relates to the history of work, skills and performance that a person has gained from his/her past employment that can be matched against the job requirements of the position an employer is looking to fill. Again this may vary from an entry level position that may require little or no experience to a senior level executive that may require 10 or more years of related experience. Again each organization will have to determine the experience requirements of the job mix that it has and update it based on its own historical record of employee performance and changing dynamics of the business and job market. 

Training - Every organization is unique in terms of the products and serviced it provides; the technology and processes it uses; the business systems, environment and culture that it operates in. Accordingly, new employees, regardless of the education, skills and experience they bring with them will need to learn how to apply them to their new job.  

Most organizations provide specific up front, ongoing and other forms of training to bring employees up to speed with as well as maintain the competence levels expected with their organization. Such training could include – health & safety, QMS, specific skills (see above), products and services, production equipment & technology, IT and business systems, orientation, apprenticeship, etc.   

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the article on this clause discusses in detail how to implement the various controls required to ensure employee competecny for QMS work as per  the requirements of clause 7.2. 

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Understanding ISO 9001:2008