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Training insights: Pick and mix

While longer courses and events are perfect for getting to the core of issues and examining a range of approaches in company with others facing the same challenges, they do not suit everyone. We recognise that it’s sometimes hard to take a whole day out of the office, especially if the topic is one that you need to explore further, but isn’t vital for the job in hand today, or when you’re still unsure exactly what you will be doing in that area.

For this reason, the Chartered IIA is experimenting with a new format of short courses designed to give attendees a concise, sharp overview of a hot topic, highlight key areas for consideration and point them in the direction of further information in just two-and-a-half hours. Three of these courses will be scheduled to run on a single day, but you will be able to choose whether you wish to attend them in quick succession, or whether it’s more convenient to spread them over three separate dates.

Although each course will not be able to cover as much ground as would be possible in a full-day event, it will be considerably more than a bite-sized chunk or a one-hour seminar and will aim to provide a starter for ten to enable you to begin planning an audit engagement in that area. We have chosen the subjects carefully to focus on delivering manageable amounts of relevant and useful material, drawing on our experiences creating online training courses during the pandemic.

So far, the subjects chosen for these accelerated courses relate to the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) agenda, plus one further course on auditing management information and digital. We plan to extend the range of subjects if we see sufficient demand.

The reason we have started with the ESG topics is that, while the institute runs a full-day course on auditing corporate governance and other topics that incorporate ESG themes, these do not focus specifically on the social and environmental aspects. However, as the institute’s Risk in Focus research shows, these are increasingly important for internal auditors, who need to be aware of the main issues.

The accelerated courses are intended to plug this gap, while providing the maximum flexibility for attendees. Internal audit can make a real difference to organisations in ESG areas by providing advisory work and independent assurance to inform critical management decisions, as well as offering assurance to stakeholders that the ESG information being reported is verified and accurate.

Regulations, good practice and guidance relating to these areas is developing rapidly, so we are now able to point attendees to a wide range of support and further information, as well as addressing the key points and recent developments. This makes the courses useful not only for those coming to the topics for the first time, but also for those who need to refresh and update their knowledge.

Many ESG topics have previously been seen as most relevant to private-sector organisations, but increasingly this is no longer the case. Similarly, organisations that do not see them as a top-ten risk at the moment should be aware that they are likely to become a top-ten risk in the next few years, so we believe the courses are relevant to those in all sectors and at all levels – whether you lead an internal audit team and need to set audit plans, or are about to embark on your first ESG engagement and want reassurance that you are covering all the important aspects.

So, if you want to ensure that you are up to speed in a rapidly evolving area, and can spare just two-and-a-half hours to gain knowledge, ask questions and go away with suggestions for your next steps, then these accelerated courses could be just what you need. 

Click here to find out more about the Chartered IIA’s accelerated training course series.

John Chesshire was chief assurance officer for the States of Guernsey until the end of 2020. He chairs an audit committee and works with European Institutes of Internal Auditors, NATO, the OECD and other clients. He is now a consultant, trainer and auditor for hire.

This article was first published in September 2021.