There is a need to get the basics right and make more time for training, according to findings from an annual survey about food safety.

The eighth global food safety training survey involved Campden BRI, Intertek Alchemy, BRCGS, BSI, Intertek, SGS, SQF, and TSI.

Responses were received from more than 3,000 sites globally, covering a range of sectors and company sizes. Almost three-quarters of participating businesses were in food and beverage manufacturing. Others were from associated industries, such as agriculture, packaging, distribution, retail, and food service.

Campden BRI said many firms were not following best practices and were settling for the bare minimum – a finding that hasn’t changed much since the survey started in 2013.

The survey covered areas such as budget; amount of training; how training is delivered and reinforced; how training records are documented and managed; training goals, needs and challenges; impact of training; the role of supervisors; cross-training; professional development; food safety culture; and advanced training technologies.

Top challenges
Paper-based records for employee training were still being used by nearly a third of respondents, closely followed by Excel spreadsheets. Only a third used a learning management system or other IT solutions.

Nearly three-quarters agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Despite our training efforts, we still have employees not following established protocols on the floor.” Campden BRI said this was one of the most concerning findings, especially as it had not changed in the past 10 years.

The top three training challenges were scheduling time for it, resources and staff to manage training delivery, and documentation as well as leadership support.

Campden BRI said this list was a reminder that for the situation to improve there needs to be a clear commitment from the business and senior leadership to provide sufficient time and resources to training and associated activities to ensure it is effective.

“Employees need to be competent but also confident, able to do the right thing right, motivated/engaged, and clear on expectations and responsibilities.”

Training records
Only two in five used training needs analysis or assessments to identify training needs, gaps, and priorities for each employee.

More than two-thirds always or often used examples from their own production facilities such as photos, videos, and instructions to ensure training reflects the environment where employees will be performing their work.

Around half use continuous and updated analytical data to assess training effectiveness and guide continuous improvement in training content. Only one in five have an established program for professional or career-path development for production employees.

For Emotional Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality, less than one in 10 reported currently using the technology. However, a quarter are looking at AI.

Around a quarter of respondents rated the quality of their overall training program as poor and said they could do better, with 60 percent saying it was sufficient. More than a third think their training has no impact on staff retention.

Two thirds of participants think that their training program has a positive impact on productivity, while one in five do not see any positive return on investment in such programs. Also, more than one in five do not have any clear vision for improving their training sessions next year.

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