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The competency development plan for an industrial SME: a strategic tool for employees.

létrehozta Thierry Ardouin
Nyelv: EN
Document available also in: FR DE

[Translation (French-English) : EPALE France]

Interview with Ms. Céline Chauvin (resource centre manager in a training organization)


The competency development plan for an industrial SME: a strategic tool for employees.




Hello Céline Chauvin, you have just completed an M.Ed in Training Engineering and Consultancy (ICF) at the University of Rouen Normandy, including a mission and a dissertation on training needs and the competency development plan in companies.

I would like to share your experience and your work with others, as these issues generally concern adult training and in-company training in SMEs. These are important themes on the EPALE platform.


- To begin with, can you tell us a little more about yourself, and tell us what made you study for your M. Ed. in Training Engineering and Consultancy (ICF)? And what place does it have in your career path?

I have a degree in history, and have been in charge of a resource centre at Greta for 10 years. I support trainees who are either seeking employment or are in employment in the development of their competency and autonomy. In my work in training centres, I have seen the changes in companies' expectations regarding employees' skills. I have also seen the need for a better balance between training and the economic needs of the territory; in other words, a better match between employment and training.

At the same time, I see the need to develop professionally towards meso and macro-level missions.  My objective was to acquire skills in the development of training projects and participate in the construction of projects. I therefore decided to increase my professional skills through the ICF Master's degree. Getting a level 1 diploma will also allow me to position myself differently on the job market and secure my professional career.


- What made you want to carry out your mission and research in an industrial SME? And to work on this issue of training needs?

In thinking about my professional development plans, I found it really important to confront myself with the corporate environment.  I wanted to observe and understand how and in what form training was provided in companies. I felt that this would complement my experience in a training centre. Being able to understand the interplay of actors and the workings of in-company training will of course bring me a different vision or at least a new perspective. Moreover, carrying out the mission in a company will allow me to broaden my professional skills in two ways, both through the learning process and the environment in which I will carry out the mission. This is how I approached my internship in a company.

Finding a company was not easy, I did a lot of research, submitted a number of applications and got few replies.  In the end I was contacted by the HR department of an industrial SME. After a first meeting in which I explained my approach, the HR manager accepted my request. This HR department consists of himself and another person who manages payroll. The SME employs 140 people. There is no training manager. The HR department asked me to take charge of the competency development plan. We agreed on the organization together. For my part, I consider this mission as an opportunity to achieve my previously mentioned objective and to acquire additional skills in human resources.

I am really happy to have found an internship in a company, it helps me to keep sight of the objectives and expectations of the Master’s degree. I was therefore careful to place the framework for my mission in the field of training engineering. I am also aware that the duration of the internship will not allow me to go as far as evaluating the competency development plan (and therefore to complete the ADIE process: Analysis, Design, Implementation, Evaluation). I arranged with the HR manager to focus my work on needs analysis and designing the competency development plan.

At the same time, my initial question about competency development is still relevant.  As needs analysis provides the foundation for a competency development plan, I have decided to focus more specifically on this.


- The question of training needs is an old one, but is still relevant, can you remind us of the essential points?

"Training needs" is an ambiguous expression which, as Marcel Lesne and Jean-Marie Barbier (1977)[1] explain, is based on objective connotations insofar as the needs are a natural and social necessity and subjective connotations in the sense that they depend on the perceptions of individuals.

Training needs are expressed at a given time through the confrontation between the real situation and the desired situation.

In the needs analysis, it is essential to distinguish the dimensions of the company

The three Levels: Micro, Meso, Macro

Their respective actors: employees, departments, the company and its external environment

Their respective needs: individual issues, collective issues, strategy and results

The need as it is expressed in the company therefore depends on the actors, their context and their environment. It does not exist alone. It is the result of contingency elements and the actors concerned. Knowing, identifying and understanding these elements and the issues related to the expression of needs makes it possible to carry out an in-depth analysis and to propose appropriate objectives and training indicators.

It can be said that the needs analysis is the study of the demand in relation to its context.

Alain Meignant explains that "a need is the result of a process involving the various stakeholders concerned reflecting an agreement between them on the gaps to be filled through training". Under this definition, we understand the social dimension around the compromise of the actors and the operational dimension around the gap to be filled by an action to be implemented (in this case, training).


- Can you tell us how you proceeded in your investigation? And through this research, what are the points or results you have identified in relation to needs analysis and the development of training?

To begin this research, I first had to understand the company, the way it worked, its issues and the challenges it faced. I first observed and studied the raw data and conducted exploratory interviews with the departmental managers and the site manager. Then to further explore the subject that interests me, I decided to interview the employees. I outlined my objective and the methods I wanted to use to the HR manager. He clearly understood the objective and supported my work, sending departmental managers an email to inform them. I then contacted a panel of 10 employees with very different profiles and backgrounds (in terms of schooling, training and professional backgrounds) to explain my approach and ask them if they would like to participate.

All the responses I received were positive.  Employees often stated that they were happy to be of service and/or to participate in my work but also to be able to express themselves on this subject.

To guide my research, I developed a methodological tool: an interview guide that served as a foundation for conducting the interviews.

After the full transcription and analysis of the interviews, here is what emerged:

 Needs analysis of the employees surveyed:

•             Their training needs are linked to their professional activity.

Expressing an employee’s needs helps to improve their performance, and gives more meaning to their work in order to improve their working comfort and help them to react to unexpected events and/or gain in versatility and autonomy. To prepare for the future, whether a few months ahead or for the longer term.

•             For some, the need for training is expressed by both the employee and the company to respond to a problematic situation.

•             For others, the need for training stems from an identified dysfunction; however, the operational objectives are not clearly explained.

•             Finally, others formulate needs based on an expectation in terms of individual or collective wishes, with operational training objectives clearly expressed. However, these needs do not necessarily correspond to those of the company.

 The development of training in the company: employee proposals:

•             A majority of employees spoke of their lack of knowledge about training and their lack of interest. They therefore express a need for information on training: = Employees want simple, clear, widely accessible information, to tell them what exists and how it works.

= Search for meaning

•             An incentive for managers to train employees Employees, while acknowledging their necessary involvement in training, express their need for support and encouragement from their superiors for their commitment to training.

•             A common training project (company/managers/employees) = co-investment (time, financial...)

•             Company-specific training: Develop internal training for specific professions but also on the main principles of work organisation and progress = meaning and motivation in employees’ commitment to training.

The HR manager mentioned three areas of improvement for the development of in-company training:

- a full-time position dedicated to training in the HR department.

- greater involvement of managers in in-company.

- better communication with employees about what in-company training is.


- According to your study, what are the (main) conditions or criteria for implementing the Competency Development Plan in an industrial SME?

Training works alongside the company. The success of the training plan relies on support from all the actors concerned. I believe that collective investment is essential in ensuring that in-company training results in competency. I would say it is essential to establish a collective dynamic around training included in the overall dynamics of the company. Training is an integral part of company strategy.

To implement and deploy the Competency Development Plan (CDP), it is important to:


•             Inform and communicate on in-company training =

Clear, intelligible information on in-company training (its role, its purpose)dual objective: Raise awareness among all employees and use a common language about training (know and understand what we are talking about)

•             Involve department and proximity managers as well as CSE members to disseminate and relay information to all employees

•             Develop transparent communication on the company's training policy  dual objective: make up the framework of in-company training (taking into account the needs specific to the professional activity) and give meaning, establishing a climate of trust in the company. Training is part of CSR.

Construction of the CDP:

•             Discuss training at different levels (in the management committee meeting, with the employee during his professional interview and the annual interview). The objective is to match the aspirations of employees with the challenges of the company.

•             Integrate training into the company's strategy = think of training as a process that is integrated into all the company's processes.

•             Make the link between "site training" and the HR department to formalize and capitalize on training actions carried out internally, for example.

The methodology of the CDP:

•             Establish habits: Organize and manage the training process internally: Develop and distribute a provisional calendar to all managers concerned for them to record needs, create specific organisational and monitoring tools necessary for the coordination of training, set up an up-to-date and shared documentation system, etc.

•             Work on strategic workforce planning to anticipate retirements and prepare for the future.


Thank you for this interview!

Thierry Ardouin, thematic expert for EPALE France




RESSOURCES (in French) :


ARDOUIN T., 2010, Ingénierie de formation pour l’entreprise, 3eme édition, paris, Dunod, 281p + la dernière édition (2017)


KERLAN F (2007), Guide pour la GPEC, éditions d’organisation, Eyrolles, 334p


LE GALL, J-M.(2018). Chapitre premier. Gestion des ressources humaines et développement de l’entreprise. Dans : Jean-Marc Le Gall éd., La gestion des ressources humaines (pp. 7-16). Paris cedex 14, France : Presses Universitaires de France-128p- Cairn consulté le 23/11/2018 


MEIGNANT A. (2001), Manager la Formation », 5ème Edition, éditions liaisons, 408p


PERETTI J.M (2009), Ressources humaines, 11ème édition, Vuibert, 571p


+ sites internet Marc Dennery, centre inffo 



[1] Barbier JM., Lesne M. (1977), L'analyse des besoins en formation, Université de Cornell, R.Jauze, 259p

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