A New Start for Management System Auditors – The IAAR Apprenticeship Program
Penny Ouellette, Accreditation and Program Director, Orion Registrar, Inc., Arvada, CO, USA
Co-Speaker: Brad Shillito
Keywords: Apprenticeship, Auditor, Certification
Industry: Career Development
In July 2021, the Independent Association of Accredited Registrars (IAAR) launched its non-profit IAAR Apprenticeship Program (IAP). This program is the first apprenticeship for management system auditors ever to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.
This presentation will provide attendees with information about the program’s goals, benefits, details, eligible participants, and opportunities for involvement. Attendees will discover the roles of the many stakeholders involved in the program, including the Independent Association of Accredited Registrars (IAAR), accredited certification bodies/registrars, WorkCred (an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)), the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB), Exemplar Global, Probitas Authentication, the University of California San Diego, Berry Global, Cargill, the US Department of Defense, and the US Department of Labor.
One driver for the apprenticeship program was a study by Exemplar Global, an international personnel certification body. The 2015 study predicted that close to 50% of respondent auditors would be leaving the auditing profession completely or entering various phases of retirement within the next 10 years. It determined a “need to attract a new generation” of management system auditors, and said “There is a clear age imbalance, an aging auditor population, and an approximate 10-year window of opportunity to address this imbalance…In the U.S, 90% of respondents were aged 46 and older, 63% aged 56 and older, and 22% aged 66 and older.” Since the current path of most auditors is to join the auditing profession after a different, earlier career, this problem is not self-correcting. Without a change in the process of acquiring new auditors, the industry will soon face a situation where demand greatly outpaces supply.
The program is aimed at individuals who are in the early stages of their career paths. For example, the program has received applications from a number of individuals who are transitioning out of the military. There is no fee to become a paid apprentice. Currently, all apprenticeship hosts are participating members of the IAAR, though there are plans to extend this eligibility to any accredited certification body worldwide, and then in the next stage, to industry partners. The IAAR is working to spread the word of this new apprenticeship, and to expand both the number of hosts and the number of apprentices. We believe the benefits to all stakeholders – apprentices, hosts, accredited certification stakeholders, and our industry partners – will be substantial. The IAAR is enthusiastic about spreading the word of this new opportunity.
The IAAR Apprenticeship Program (IAP) is an example of leadership’s role in creating quality-centered culture. It is designed to standardize and ensure minimum competencies, and simplify, streamline, and enhance the recruitment and retention of management system auditors. One of its goals is to help improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the management system auditor pool. It embraces innovation by providing a model for a change, as well as leadership in creating that change as part of a sustainable business practice.
In addition to producing more management system auditors, the program will provide valuable benefits to all stakeholders. For example, apprentices will have the opportunity to participate in a paid program that will provide entry into a professional, well-paying field. The credentials and competencies obtained will offer the ability to work in many different fields, in addition to the 3rd party accredited certification industry, since the hosting certification bodies work with clients in nearly every type of industry imaginable. Apprentices who complete the program may choose to work for their host certification body, or may choose to work in any of the industries in which they gained experience during the apprenticeship. Opportunities with hosts exist for a variety of career options including traditional salaried positions as well as flexible self-employment as subcontractors.
The hosting certification bodies will have a leadership role in the apprenticeship program, a competent, larger and more diverse auditor pool, connections with apprentices with many years of work ahead of them and access to a structured, Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program with external oversight, and accreditation body participation. The program can be tailored to host organizations’ needs.
Industry will benefit by the IAP addressing a critical, industry-wide issue, and providing a larger, more diverse pool of competent auditors for 1st, 2nd and 3rd party audits. The IAP will also increase public awareness and understanding of management system auditing and the accredited certification body industry.