The ‘Missed’ Value in Foundation Courses

by Eoin Philip Kelly | September 21, 2020 | Blog , CQI and IRCA , eLearning , EU MDR , FSSC 22000 Version 5 , ISO 13485:2016 , ISO 9001:2015 , Online ISO Training , Online Training , Regulatory Affairs , |

The ‘Missed’ Value in Foundation Courses

Foundation courses are the most underrated and yet arguably the most important course that I would recommend to anyone interested in either implementing a Management System (to meet the requirements of either a Standard or Regulation), or more commonly, for anyone interested in gaining a qualification as either an Internal or Lead Auditor.

I have been contemplating writing about this for several weeks for various reasons, and just last week, a senior Director who completed one of our online & self-paced Foundation courses commented:

I would strongly encourage you to review the tittle of the course as I think a number of our staff who have worked in the sector for years would also benefit from this course but they would be hesitant to take the course as they would assume it was for lessor experienced persons.”

And they also commented:

“I have a good number of years’ experience in the sector and provide overview training on ISO 13485 internally and still believe that I learnt a good deal from this course as a refresher.”

The first comment highlights their own honest self-assessment before completing the course, and the second comment highlights their now changed view after completing the course. I feel this often sums up the opinion that many have regarding any Foundation-level course, whether it be in the discipline of Quality Management (ISO 9001), Quality Management for the Medical Device Industry (ISO 13485, EU MDR 2017/745), Food Safety (FSSC 22000) or any other discipline.

Foundation-level courses are valuable, stand-alone courses in their own right – but they are primarily the most important ‘stepping-stone’ courses for those new to a given International Standard or Regulation, but they can also be very worthwhile ‘refresher’ courses for more experienced Professionals. The completion of a certified Foundation course really will provide the necessary ‘foundation’ in that given Standard or Regulation – including their purpose, benefits & structure – but by also providing a comprehensive understanding of the requirements of that given Standard or Regulation. This becomes particularly important if intending to complete an auditor training course, as the completion of a Foundation course will ensure you are better prepared & meet the entry requirements for that course (in most cases*)!

I have been working in this industry for just over 14 years and in that time, I have found that over 80% of Learners who wish to complete either Internal or Lead Auditor training overlook the prior learning requirements for either course. This happens for different reasons – but in the case of CQI & IRCA certified training courses, they actually specify the prior learning criteria that each participant is ‘recommended or required to have’ in advance & yet so many register without it. The truth is that the Learner is at a disadvantage without this prior knowledge. It will not necessarily mean that the Learner will be unsuccessful in completing the training or the examination (on lead auditor courses), which can easily happen, but without knowing these ‘fundamentals’ sufficiently, they really are unlikely to be able to effectively apply the knowledge & skills once the training has been completed. For me, this is a significant oversight & missed opportunity.

This happens to be one of the most commented on topics for Instructors at the start of most auditor-level training courses when I check in and ask, “How is it going?” shortly after each course has started. Namely, that they will very quickly pick up on who has or has not the recommended prior knowledge – but unsurprisingly, many Participants will realise ‘on their own’ their error in overlooking the prior knowledge requirements. From the Instructor’s perspective, this can add to the challenge of managing the course, ensuring everyone achieves their learning objectives & keeping everyone happy! But also, from the Learner’s perspective, it can really add to their stress levels of feeling inadequately prepared for a course they are now completing, especially if there is an examination at the end! This can easily be avoided.

One of the biggest difficulties was that until recently, all Foundation-level courses were ‘classroom-based’ and just really unattractive for both the Learners themselves and/or their Employer who really doesn’t want them away on training for any longer than absolutely necessary or looking to pay for any additional training that they may not feel is ‘essential’ (again, in most cases from my own experience!).

For example, in looking at the course statistics every year that CQI & IRCA publish for all training providers, the overall attendance on Foundation-level courses is unsurprisingly low which I believe is down to the above reasons. For me, the opposite should be true – as these courses offer so much more value, not just for those who are looking to attend Internal or Lead Auditor training, but for those interested in pursuing a career in the field or if looking at implementing that Standard or complying with that Regulation in your organization. They offer value across the board and for all manner of participant who is working within the Industry.

In starting Comply Guru, I wanted to be able to change the low uptake in Foundation-level courses through innovative, online & self-paced courses that can finally address this ‘learning gap’ – by offering a more convenient, flexible and ultimately attractive means to complete these valuable courses. I do believe passionately in the importance of foundation courses, and that by offering online, self-paced learning – that it will hopefully buck the trend that so often sees these courses overlooked and their value missed.

To view more on what we offer, you can browse our library of available courses here:

*in certain cases, a certain level of work/industry experience is also required in addition to knowledge-based prior learning requirements alone.

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