ARCHIVED - Safe Food Canada: The Learning Partnership
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Drivers for Change: Why Now?
- Globally-integrated supply chains
- Increased emphasis on international standards
- Foreign and domestic market requirements for food safety management system certification
- Rapid evolution of food safety risks and the continual advance of knowledge in food safety risk management
- Significant legislative changes to food underway in Canada
- Transformative changes to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) programs and processes
- High consumer expectations for food safety
- Training is a priority for industry and government alike
Canada's Food Safety System: Who are the Players?
- Canada's global reputation as a producer of safe, high-quality food is a significant factor in the continued strength and growth of the agri-food sector.
- Protecting the health of Canadians along with its resources and environment is a collaborative effort:
- Industry is responsible for producing safe food and managing risks associated with its products and processes.
- Industry associations offer guidance, programs, training and tools to their members or sectors.
- Regulatory agencies (including federal, provincial, territorial governments) administer and enforce food safety regulatory requirements.
- Consumers and consumer groups provide information and feedback to the system.
- Third-party auditors audit industry compliance with Canadian and international food safety requirements.
- Academia/Private Providers develop educational programs and courses to meet learning needs.
Where Does Education and Training fit in a Strongly Performing Food Safety System?
The Learning Challenge: What is it?
- Current challenges
- Availability: Most food safety courses are aimed at entry-level food service industry workers and there is no defined career path for food safety professions.
- Cost-intensive: As a result, industry and government each develop their own in-house training – despite sharing many common training needs – which leads to considerable expense and duplication of effort.
- Accessibility: Despite the ever-growing need for expertise, fiscal constraints limit access to learning, particularly for small businesses.
- Regulatory modernization requires new approaches and investments.
- Proposed solution
- A joint industry-government-academia partnership defining competency-based learning outcomes against which all food safety training and education can be benchmarked and certified.
- Expected benefits
- An increased number of food safety professionals and workers with the knowledge and skills needed by industry and government.
- A foundation to ensure the quality of food safety education and training continuously improves.
- Greater confidence of employers in the qualifications of new professionals and workers that they hire.
- Clarity of career path options for food safety professionals and workers and greater ease of skill transfe.
- Avoidance of fragmented and duplicative training programs, lower costs and better value for training investments.
What Model Could Canada Consider?
- Many good food safety training systems available
(e.g., U.S., U.K. and Australia) - the International Food Protection Training Institute in the U.S. features:
- Globally-acclaimed model for private public partnership that addresses public-health needs;
- Supports a fully integrated food safety system (U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act);
- Fosters international collaboration through partnerships: industry, academia, all levels of government and other associations/organizations.
- Proposal: Canada creates a "Learning Partnership" to develop and implement a:
- Comprehensive food safety learning framework based on international standards;
- Competency-based food safety education and training for personnel in industry (including small businesses) and at all levels of government; and
- Certification implemented by a private entity to help ensure comparable and competent food safety staff in industry and government.
What are the Benefits?
- Reduces costs for learning with standardization of courses (where appropriate) with government and academia/non-government organizations
- Facilitates hiring/learning through a uniform, competency-based approach
- Provides access to a pool of competent entry-level workers
- More effective use of personnel development time by having career pathway and sequencing
- Supports small businesses by providing no-cost or low-cost training material and tools (e.g., introduction to food safety requirements and best practices)
- Academia/Private Training
- Increases participation in food system courses through clearer learning pathways
- Increases interest in food-related professions
- Facilitates pathway for students from education to careers
- Creates potential to build capacity and partnerships in delivering food safety courses
- Cost-effective way to strengthen Canada's food safety system
- Increases mobility between workers in the public sector (federal, provincial, territorial and local) and private sector and encourages joint education and training
- Enhances recruitment and retention by creating competency-based career paths and having employees belong to a professional community
- Improves overall consistency and conformity of services delivered (e.g., inspections, regulatory practices, laboratory work, etc.)
What are the Key Components?
What are they Potential Next Steps?
- How could a Learning Partnership benefit you?
- What do you think of the competence-based approach and the concept of national standards or requirements?
- What steps do we need to take, in your mind, to make the Learning Partnership a success?
- How best can the Learning Partnership meet the diverse learning requirements for all stakeholders (e.g., e-learning, targeted courses, etc.)?
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Template for a Competency-Based Curriculum Framework
The example above shows a simplified version of a potential curriculum framework that could be used for either industry or the regulator (based on the U.S. IFPTI model). Please see the handout for an example of an existing curriculum framework developed in Canada by the CFIA.
Proposed Principles of the Learning Partnership
Proposed Interim Governance Structure
Note: This structure is modelled after the U.S. IFPTI's approach to governance.
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