Expiry Dates on Training
The emphasis on refresher training overlooks some very important points. The intention is for people to be kept up to date and to remain competent, and training is only one of a number of possible inputs to competency.
If we stepped back and comprehensively assessed the actual competency requirements for each task or activity, using learning and development frameworks such as Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning to develop meaningful competency criteria, we would be in a much better position to manage workplace competencies.
At the moment, there's too much reliance on qualifications and certificates provided by third parties, with insufficient rigour in assessing the frameworks behind those qualifications.
The methodology used by learning and development professionals would start by conducting a learning needs assessment, based on a set of competency criteria.
It seems to me, especially in a day and age where every work activity must return appropriate value for the investment, that it would make sense on so many levels to reassess competency requirements and what is really needed.
If we have a robust competency framework, we can develop meaningful assessments to determine competency and then use those assessments to verify ongoing competency. The assessment would itself provide a review of critical points, and if a person can demonstrate that they remain competent, why would you need to spend the time and effort of attending a training for something they already know? Just verify their competence and certify them for the next validity period. If they are unsuccessful in their assessment, you need to determine whether really don't know and need to re-sit training and assessment, or whether they just need practice or some kind of coaching.
I personally find it appalling to send people back to so-called refresher that requires trainees to sit through the same full programme they have previously attended, as if they had not listened properly the first time. And making people repeat training for something they already know is likely to turn people off training as well, because 'refresher' training is rarely 'fresh', and if it was poorly designed and delivered the first time around, it is unlikely to be any better the next time.
If we changed the focus from training (an input) to one of competency (the outcome) and managed competency from this perspective, we could save a lot of time, money and wear-and-tear on people.