top of page

Why preparation is a key part of learning success

It’s essential to keep skills up to date when working in hazardous environments and pre-learning is vital before taking on a new training course or recertifying

The role of training or instruction is crucial in ensuring a competent workforce. In my opinion, it’s equally important for candidates to give consideration to finding time to complete recognised pre-learning and look to set objectives of what they hope to learn, in preparation for course attendance. 

During my several years of delivering competency assurance training prior to joining CompEx, I recognised that every individual approaches learning differently. Some come prepared, having digested the pre-learning materials provided, others learn by repetition or reinforcement of knowledge while some turn up on the day with the notion that they’ll be able to ‘wing it’. I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing ahead of attending a training course. In my experience, when it came to success rates, it was often clear to see those who had taken time to study pre-learning compared to those who hadn’t. 

Preparation is VITAL

Whether pre-learning is done through reading, listening or doing, by putting in the time ahead of the course, learners can understand the level of knowledge that the course instructor expects all candidates to have when they arrive for the first day of learning. 

As an instructor and assessor, I occasionally found, particularly in the case of recertification courses, there was a risk that those who had been working in an industry for many years could become over-confident or complacent. This meant that some individuals didn’t see the need to study the pre-learning materials provided and just decided to take their chances, which then had an impact on the successful completion of the qualification.

I also found that those that had completed the pre-learning often had greater involvement in group discussions and felt more comfortable asking questions. 

The role of continuing professional development (CPD) shouldn’t be ignored either. 

As well as pre-learning, I would advise that practitioners should dedicate some time each year towards CPD, allowing them to stay on top of any updates in their industry and changes in regulations. Whether this is through attending industry webinars, monitoring the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website for any changes in guidance or reading trade publications, there are plenty of resources available to help and most individuals are already contributing to their CPD without realising.

In many cases, recertification is required after a period of time. I suggest that practitioners begin their preparation at least six months prior to the expiry of their qualification by booking their course and proactively seeking the best pre-learning available to support their individual requirements. It’s also at this point that candidates should consider what is the best route for them and what qualification will provide them with the learning outcomes required. 

How important is the subject matter? And what if it’s misunderstood?

The consequences of an incident that takes place in a hazardous area is far greater than one that might take place in a non-hazardous area. When working in electrical safety the potential of risk is higher, therefore it’s fundamental that candidates acknowledge and understand those risks to avoid potentially life-changing consequences. 

When working in potentially explosive environments, practitioners may not only be responsible for their own wellbeing and safety, but also their colleagues and potentially members of the public too. This is why, alongside their employers, they must ensure that they have an understanding of the requirements of the environments they work in.

What materials can practitioners pre-learn from?

There are so many ways that candidates can prepare themselves ahead of attending a course through a wide range of materials. Using supplied course notes and looking over the learning framework are good starting points, alongside completing any pre-course self-evaluation questionnaires or e-learning supplied by the training or scheme provider.

Some individuals might also find it more useful to discuss the course with their employer to question anything they are unsure of.

“when it came to success rates, it was often clear to see those who had taken time to study pre-learning, compared to those who hadn’t”

At CompEx, we offer an online learning platform where you can take advantage of a range of free and premium paid-for resources, including the opportunity to purchase an official practice examination paper for the Gas and Vapours (Ex01-04) qualification, allowing candidates to understand what knowledge they will be tested on at the end of their course and to assess their existing level of knowledge on the subject. It also provides a valuable resource for those attending the Recognised Practitioners Programme (RPP) as a knowledge refresh. 

Working in hazardous environments requires a cyclical approach to learning from practitioners and shouldn’t be approached with a ‘start-to-finish’ mindset.

In my experience, dedicating a set number of hours each year to CPD and committing to pre-learning ahead of new qualifications or recertification courses will enhance personal competency and contribute overall to their best chances of success. 


Find out more

CompEx is the international scheme for competency validation and certification for those working in explosive environments, with nearly 60 approved training providers across the world. Find out more about the CompEx scheme and locate your local training centre by visiting You can also keep up to date by following CompEx on LinkedIn and Facebook.


Recent Posts
bottom of page