Thinking Beyond the Surface: Enhanced SA8000® Course  

Updated Basic SA8000® Auditor Training Course Emphasizes Real Life Supply Chain Challenges & Practical Techniques
July 2011

SA8000® Basic Auditor Training course participants gather at the conclusion of the course, which took place on July 4-8 in Hamburg, Germany

In 1998, SAI rolled out its first auditor training course.  It sought to train certification auditors and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and interests.  Over the years, the growth of the CSR sector has brought in a diverse group of participants who seek to learn more about becoming a social auditor, and address real labor issues faced in a company's supply chain. Initially most participants were experienced ISO auditors; now more individuals from all codes and standards have participated in this training program.
In response to this evolution, SAI has continually updated its Basic SA8000® Auditor Training course. Now SAI introduces a holistic update/revision that incorporates over 13 years of feedback from auditors, certification bodies and companies, information from SAAS calibration meetings, and more advanced learning techniques. As one of SAI's flagship programs, the course provides the core competencies necessary for supply chain management and auditing with the SA8000® standard as a framework to assure social compliance. 
"With the new Basic SA8000® Auditor Training course, the key thing we've done is provide participants with really practical skills that they can use in the field," said Craig Moss, Director of Corporate Programs and Training. "We've added more simulated audit experiences, and we really focus on the idea of auditor attitude skills and knowledge."
Natural biases on the part of the auditor, quite often not realized, are a continual challenge that auditors face. To address this, the course integrates a series of real-life examples to raise complex issues for discussion of the problem and possible remedies. For example, an auditor may feel that workers generally are not interested in joining trade unions, and that perception could well alter the techniques used to elicit information from workers.    
"For social auditors, there are two main phases: the discovery phase, and the 'so what?' phase," explained Doug DeRuisseau, SAI's Director of Field Services and Lead Trainer. Mr. DeRuisseau developed the course 13 years ago and has regularly improved it.
"With the discovery phase, the goal is to identify those issues that do not conform to the letter and intent of the standard so that actions can be taken for remediation. This activity is accomplished through interviews with workers, managers and external stakeholders, a review of records and documents, and the use of sensory perceptions such as observing the work site and work process."  
"During the 'so what?' phase, it will fall to the auditor to decide whether or not the corrective actions set forth by the company are adequate to meet the 3-fold test (identify the root cause, correct the documented non-conformance, and effectively implement preventive action) and when they will be completed. Thus, although auditors do not consult or recommend a course of action, they indirectly influence the company and the action taken by their very acceptance or rejection of the corrective action."
The Basic SA8000® Auditor Training course takes place in locations around the world. It is offered in various languages -- Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese and others. It is the first step towards becoming an accredited SA8000® social auditor and a critical step in understanding the labor aspects of the supply chain.  All BSCI auditors are required to take the training program; the course now includes a special module on auditing to the BSCI system. Participants also include corporate supply chain managers, government officials, trade unions and NGOs. SAI offers free places to local trade union and NGO staff members.
The new course was rolled out May 2-6, 2011 in Istanbul and July 18-22, 2011 in New York. Coming soon: an online SAI course to serve as part of the Advanced SA8000® Auditor Training course. It's a refresher to the concepts learned in the Basic course.
  View the full training schedule to find a course near you.
For more information, contact SAI Training Manager, Kate Critchell at


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