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A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses
Child working as a stonemason

Where, When and How Should Training be Conducted?

Some social compliance teams have in-house staff members who develop training materials for their company’s program.  Others contract out this function, or use training materials developed by an industry or cross-industry group.  In some cases, it is also feasible and fruitful to engage some stakeholder groups in training other stakeholder groups.  For example, vendors or agents can be trained, and then be charged with training all the managers, supervisors and human resources staff of the production facilities from which they source.  Trade unions can also play an important role in developing training materials and raising awareness among workers and/or communities on social compliance issues.

There are also training resources available from academic institutions, international organizations and government bodies.  For example, the University of Delaware offers an online training course on Risks of Human Trafficking and Slavery.  The Government of the United Kingdom funds the Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund program, which helps strengthen local audit capacity by training local labor inspectors in the countries where it operates.  The German Government funded a program in the Bangladesh garment sector that provided training for trainers of social compliance from the private sector, civil society and public institutions, as well as training for factory managers to improve social compliance.  As described below, the UN’s Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) program provides free training for a variety of audiences on trafficking issues, including government officials, journalists and suppliers.  And the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Special Action Program to Combat Forced Labor offers a training course on “Identifying and Investigating Cases of Forced Labor and Trafficking.”

Example In Action

UN.GIFT E-Learning Program on Trafficking and Business

UN.GIFT offers a free online course to businesses interested in learning more about human trafficking and what they can do to help combat it.  UN.GIFT’s e-learning tool on human trafficking features three modules: (1) What is human trafficking? (2) Why is human trafficking an issue for businesses? and (3) What can business do to address human trafficking?  The three modules are designed to help managers, owners or even employees to “better understand and respond to the complex human and labour rights challenges that are posed by human trafficking, perhaps within [their] own workplace[s] or company[ies], or in [their] supply chain[s].”

For more information, see UN.GIFT.

Training for workers should be designed according to the particular worker population. In a country or geographic area where most workers have at least a basic education, training may also be taught in a classroom setting using written materials.  However, there are industries and geographic areas where a significant proportion of workers may be illiterate or simply have very little experience in a classroom.  In such cases, training methods and materials must be adapted to ensure that workers still capture the necessary information.  Specific training formats have been developed for such populations, including films, graphical materials, posters and other visuals.

In areas where many workers may lack basic education, some companies choose to go beyond basic social compliance training to offer literacy and numeracy education at the worksite or scholarships for such education.  These efforts are often tied to the company’s overall philanthropy portfolio, discussed further in Addressing Root Causes.

Cultural norms are also a key consideration in designing trainings.  For instance, in some countries, men and women must be seated separately or separated by a certain distance within a room.  In some cases, a trainer of a certain gender may be more appropriate for a particular group.  Issues like eye contact and personal space are important for trainers to understand.  It is also critical to have an understanding of teaching styles that are common in the area – for instance, in many cultures, raising one’s hand to answer a question or having a group “brainstorm” is unheard of. 

Some companies also choose to tie their social compliance training to other forms of training they may offer.  In fact, many companies have found that integrating social compliance training into trainings on other topics like productivity, quality assurance and industry-specific technical skills has many benefits.  Workers with improved skills are likely to be valued more highly and treated better, and improved workforce technical skills and productivity have concrete impacts on producers and suppliers’ incomes, so the trainings may be deemed more important by management and supervisors.

Example In Action

The International Cocoa and Chocolate Industry:  Training Initiatives to Improve Family Livelihoods

In West Africa, the international cocoa and chocolate industry is working with farmers to improve how they produce cocoa so that the farming family will have a greater, more dependable income source – and in turn to reduce the need for such families to rely on child labor.  Through Farmer Field Schools and Farmer Development Centers, companies are providing farmers with opportunities to learn techniques to reduce diseases in trees and improve the quality and yield of their crop.  In turn, companies pay a premium for the higher quality cocoa, which is intended to help the farmers send their children to school and reduce exploitative child labor.  The cocoa and chocolate industry is also supporting several projects that aim to reduce the worst forms of child labor in cocoa production by helping improve the lives of farming families at the community level. 

For example, several companies have projects that assist communities to design action programs that identify gaps and priorities for the community, such as the lack of schools or health centers.  Some companies are then providing grant funding to assist a community to fill its prioritized gap, while others are helping communities advocate with public authorities to meet those needs.  Additionally, some companies are working with cooperatives to build schools and helping communities work with government authorities to get teachers assigned to those schools. 

For more information, see The Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group, 2011 Annual Report.  

Example In Action

Better Work Lesotho: HIV/AIDS Training for Worker Health and Productivity

The HIV prevalence rate among apparel workers in Lesotho is 40-45 percent, one of the highest in the world.  In response, Better Work Lesotho, part of the Better Work program described earlier in these materials, developed specialized HIV/AIDS training for workers in the sector.  The organization partners with local NGOs for training expertise, primarily the Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA).

ALAFA is a major HIV/AIDS non-profit organization based in Maseru, the capital and center of Lesotho’s apparel industry.  Better Work Lesotho’s sector-wide approach enables HIV/AIDS education and prevention strategies developed by the ILO and ALAFA to be provided in every factory.  ALAFA trains worker volunteers in the factories to be peer educators.  The organization also trains factory HIV/AIDS education coordinators, supervisors, shop stewards and production managers; helps develop the factory's HIV/AIDS policy; and conducts ongoing program monitoring. According to the ALAFA website, about 32,000 workers have access to prevention services through the effort.

For more information, see the Better Work Lesotho Project Summary and the Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS website.

The ILO’s Program for Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) developed a training program to increase the productivity of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) while promoting recognition of and respect for the ILO’s international labor standards.  SCORE provides “training of trainers” for individuals and organizations who then deliver the training program to SMEs.  SCORE is currently active in seven countries: China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Africa. 

A similar ILO-developed program in the Latin America region, the System for the Measurement and Improvement of Productivity (SIMAPRO), is active in Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and is being implemented across a range of sectors, including sugar, fruit, automotive parts, clothing and tourism.  All activities are guided by tripartite advisory committees in each country and at the global level. For more information, see the SCORE webpage.

Developing materials, scheduling training sessions, hiring trainers and tracking training delivery are all significant investments.  There are various ways to structure financing for your training program.  Some companies simply choose to allocate a large portion of their social compliance budget to training and capacity building, believing that training helps to prevent problems and ultimately saves money.  Some companies provide a core set of trainings free of charge, but if code violations are found for which training is required as part of remediation, the supplier then pays those training costs.  Some companies pass on most or all responsibilities related to training, including costs, to vendors/agents or suppliers.