By Thomas Blansett, CFPS, CFPAI, Technical Director, IFPS.
Many articles about certification focus on benefits to the individual, and I certainly don’t disagree with them. But I work for the International Fluid Power Society and look at it a little differently: What are certification’s benefits to an employer?
According to Phillip Barnhart’s 1997 Guide to National Professional Certification Programs, “Certifications are portable, since they do not depend on one company’s definition of a certain job.” Certifications provide potential employers with “an impartial, third-party endorsement of an individual’s professional knowledge and experience.”
For employers, certification is a screening tool that helps identify potential employees applying for jobs. Certification ensures that the candidate possesses at least base-level knowledge and skill.
Some working professionals aren’t certified but possess the aptitude and attitude to obtain certification if they can get the right training. Employers should make certification a priority by providing the training employees require. Certification not only increases safety awareness, knowledge, and skills among employees, it yields benefits such as improved quality and increased productivity. Certification can result in less machine downtime.
Well-trained employees not only boost safety and productivity, they also improve engagement with the employer, as employees recognize that the company values their skills and knowledge. Another benefit to employers could be less turnover; satisfied employees usually don’t leave their employer. One concern expressed by some companies is a fear that if they train employees, those more highly valued professionals may leave to work somewhere else. There are many reasons to leave an employer, but I’ve never heard anyone say, “it was because they trained me too well.”
While trained individuals won’t necessarily increase production, they can help reduce downtime when faults in a system occur. Skilled professionals can quickly identify the fault’s cause and modify the system to ensure that it doesn’t reoccur.
Customers also benefit from well-trained and knowledgeable employees. They recognize that capable and credible professionals are serving them, and they see that a company holds its employees to the highest professional standards.
I obtained certification in 1990 because my boss at the Vickers Training Center decided that all instructors should be certified by IFPS, known at the time as the Fluid Power Society. My colleagues and I had been teaching for several years, but the explanation made sense: fluid power certification adds to our credibility, and it makes the training we offer relevant to the industry’s needs.
Companies benefit when they invest in their employees. When Vickers mandated that the sales force become certified, other manufacturers followed suit. Credentialing a sales rep as a Certified Fluid Power Specialist differentiates their company as better suited to design a hydraulic system. That doesn’t mean that noncertified professionals are not capable; many of them are. But certification assures customers that your company draws on an established foundational base of knowledge and skills.
As I reflect on my career in fluid power, I observe that my certification as a Certified Fluid Power Specialist opened many doors. It provided opportunities for professional growth that I would not have known otherwise. Over the years, I have known and worked with many of the industry’s great minds, and I am indebted to them for their mentorship and friendship.