Dragon Naturally Speaking e-Learning - Training

Friday, December 21, 2012

Developing leaders for the 21st century

"Coming along to a training programme no longer cuts it," said Larry Reynolds, managing partner of 21st Century Leader.

Speaking at the last L&D 2020 event of the year, Reynolds walked a the group through six principles of a leadership development programme that he and David Archer, director of Socia Ltd, used to judge the Training Journal Awards. Nick Brice, TJ Award winner and managing director of 360 Degree Vision, was one of the delegates and said that leadership development was about focusing on "how do you do with your staff what you do with your customers".

Reynold's principles included ensuring that the objectives were routed in business need and had senior management commitment. This is something that was highlighted in the morning session from the Co-Operative Food group organisational effectiveness team.

Discussing the programme for store managers at Co-op, Sharon Douglas said: "Operations got that we needed to do something different, but perhaps not as different as the HR director's vision was."

Tracy Taylor explained that the programme meant a "move from skills based knowledge to transformational" and that the "leadership element needed to be engaging and authentic" in order to create managers that "appreciate operations, but could step back and lead - this was a change of mind-set." Douglas highlighted the success of the Co-op programme. "As the momentum grew, the programme became business as usual and as people saw change-ready managers there was less pressure from Operations to fill vacancies."

Reynolds facilitated a lot of discussion with the delegates, some of which were TJ Awards runner ups. Reynold's principles also included to use a full palette of developmental activities, to innovate and to ensure close links to the job. Reynold's added: "You can't afford to not understand online collaboration. Get curious about that world. Don't try to take it all on yourself: involve the right people… and think about who the right people are."

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SummitSkills: Richard Review 'a useful reminder of real apprenticeships'

The Richard Review has been welcomed as a useful reminder of what makes a real apprenticeship by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for building services engineering.

Responding to Doug Richard's recently published recommendations, chief executive of SummitSkills Keith Marshall OBE said: "We have long argued for a tightening up of the definition of 'apprenticeship' to describe a person learning a new job and not just an existing worker upgrading their skills.

"We are pleased to see that the review appears to have responded to this and other points we made in our submission. We look forward to seeing the Government's Skills Strategy for the whole of the UK, due to be issued in February 2013, and to working with the Government to identify the best ways to ensure that both apprenticeships and traineeships deliver the best possible outcomes for employees and for their employers.  

"While it is good to have a fresh look at the subject of apprenticeships, we feel it is important that we learn from existing good practice and resist the temptation to make change for change's sake.  Doug Richard is right to highlight that apprenticeships should focus on the needs of both the employer and learner, and should not be driven by training providers. This requires engagement with employers and in a sector dominated by small and micro businesses, SummitSkills is well placed to support that approach."

SummitSkills also agrees with the Richard Review about the need to secure high quality learning for an apprenticeship to be most valuable to all involved parties. How to achieve this has also been the focus of two other important documents in 2012 focusing on the future of apprenticeships - the Holt Review in May and the BIS Select Committee's report in early November.

Together the three documents suggest various changes to make apprenticeships more useful, relevant and fit for the needs of the future workforce. The Government's skills strategy in February will consider these documents, as well as taking into account the findings of the Heseltine Review and the Industrial Strategy launched recently by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

"With its established relationships with the key employer and other stakeholder organisations in the building services engineering sector, SummitSkills is in an excellent position to work through the options. We must work together to find the way through this potential maze and create apprenticeships fit for the future," Marshall concluded.

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Project to prioritise practical training for youth

Vocational training body Cedefop has joined a project to support a European initiative intended to help young people integrate into the labour market.

The initiative, which focuses on apprenticeship-type, work-based learning, was launched on last week in Berlin. Germany and six other Member States have signed memoranda defining the scope and objectives of future collaboration.

On invitation of German Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, in association with the European Commission, signed a memorandum of cooperation on vocational education and training in Europe. At the conclusion of the meeting, Xavier Prats Monné, deputy general director for education and training at the European Commission, said that this is the beginning of a European initiative which other Member States will soon join.

Speaking at the Berlin meeting, Cedefop director Christian Lettmayr, said that despite their many differences, all dual models help young people understand what the world of work is really like, and cultivate necessary soft skills alongside purely technical ones. But he also said that, to be effective, such models must be well integrated in each country's existing educational system and labour market, particularly its qualifications structure.

The signatories to the memorandum - Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain - agreed to focus their efforts on improving the image and quality of vocational education and training. Their joint cooperation is meant to provide lasting support to bilateral and multilateral initiatives in vocational training. The goal is to have 80 per cent of all young people in Europe employed by 2020. It was emphasised that this new European alliance has been started to best help the 7.5 million young Europeans who are in search of employment.

Despite the optimism, Martyn Sloman, principal consultant to TJ's L&D2020 project, was downbeat about the project.

He said: "Such initiatives are unlikely to have any effect and I really do not think it will solve the problem of youth unemployment by setting up an advisory board.

"It's a dire situation. The restructuring of the global economy means there will not be enough jobs for young people.

"What I'm convinced is happening is that we have some serious structural issues to be addressed in these countries. We are not creating enough jobs for young people.

Sloman added: "New policies and debates are needed. Initiatives like this look good but will have no effect whatsoever. They look like they're doing something but don't address the underlying issues."

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Kallidus to deliver learning programme to 24,000 employees

Construction suppliers The Travis Perkins Group have appointed talent management solution providers Kallidus to enhance the learning and development of the group's 24,000 employees.

The company operates 16 businesses across different trades within the building and home improvement market from more than 1,800 sites nationwide.

The first phase of the project is the implementation of the Kallidus Learning Management System (LMS) which is due to go live in January 2013. Kallidus' LMS will support and enhance the learning and development requirements of the group's employees, while also enabling learning and development to be more closely aligned with business strategy across the business.

Melanie Cooley, group training manager at the Travis Perkins Group, said: "We chose Kallidus because they are the market leader with a clear understanding of our industry and because they were able to provide us with a competitive and comprehensive one-stop-shop solution for our learning, performance and talent management needs.

"The Kallidus solution will mean that we're able to take a more strategic, proactive approach to learning and development across the Group. The system's strong reporting functionality will provide greater transparency and visibility, giving learners and managers much more control over their learning."

The Kallidus solution supports The Travis Perkins Group's new internal site, a dynamic and interactive platform which will drive learning and development for everyone within the Group. The new system creates a complete learning environment with elearning, classroom learning and informal learning in a single location, delivering a better learning experience for all employees.

Rob Caul, CEO of Kallidus, added: "We are delighted to be working with the leading name in the building and home improvement industry. Kallidus learning and talent suite will support the Travis Perkins Group's investment in its people now and in the long-term. Travis Perkins is leading the way in its approach to providing learning and development for all, and in the way it plans to engage its learners and improve performance through its new internal platform."

"We look forward to helping The Travis Perkins Group develop talented people and improve business effectiveness now and in the future."

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Creative training approach needed, says skills body

The Sector Skills Council for active leisure and learning has stressed the value of vocational training and their importance for the future of the UK.

Following the most recent labour market statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Ian Taylor, CEO of SkillsActive has called for a more creative approach to training.

According to the ONS, unemployment for the three months of August to October fell by 82,000 to 2.51 million.

Taylor said: "One of the biggest challenges facing recruiters today is finding young people who are ready for work. Vocationally based training is the most powerful tool to develop potential, enhance skills, and magnify young people's chances of getting work. As a Sector Skills Council we have great links with a range of training providers. We see apprenticeships as an excellent means to train and recruit employees; they enable individuals to gain hands-on experience, whilst also earning money.

"I firmly believe that we need to be creative and innovative when training our future talent pipeline. Apprenticeships are of course not perfect but by listening to employers and working alongside Government we can continue to improve them and our nation's future employees".

Taylor's comments come after the Richard Review, an independent report by former Dragon's Den star Doug Richard concerning apprenticeships, published last month, suggesting that Government funding must create the right incentives for apprenticeship training. SkillsActive backs the recommendations made in the report and will be a key player in helping to coordinate an effective skills infrastructure in the UK.

"As we prepare to enter a year where we expect to see growth but at the same time anticipate tough challenges in the business environment, vocationally based training must feature prominently. SkillsActive has a great relationship with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). As a recipient of government funding, we truly understand the value of these cash injections in getting apprenticeship schemes off the ground."

He added: "All in all when considering the implementation of apprenticeships, we will continue to work alongside our employers and Government in ensuring that apprenticeships are fit for purpose and address the skills needs of our future workforce."

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Older talent have a huge role to play at work, study finds

The biggest downside to employing a person over the age of 60 would be the perception that they are slower to learn new skills.

That was the view of cognitive neuroscientist Dr Lynda Show, who recently conducted detailed research into people's attitudes towards ageing in the workplace.

Despite respondents believing that over 60s contribute a better work ethic (69 per cent) and attitude (65 per cent) than people in their 30s, 70 per cent of people thought that over 60s would be intimidated by advanced technology in the workplace. Shaw, however, believes that this isn't the case.

"Older employees might be slower to learn, but they are incredibly eager to try new things and develop.  If employees spent some training time older as well as younger cohorts, they would reap a greater return for their investment," she said.

Dr Shaw added that older employees can mentor young people, which not only boosts their abilities but also generates communication and a stronger working relationship.

"The trend that 70 is the new 50 in the workforce (as well as in lifestyle and health) has risen because of patterns that older workers seem to have stronger writing, grammar and spelling skills in English, and have a stronger professionalism/work ethic.

"We have this wonderful bank of talent in the older generation, why are we throwing it away in business? Let's look at what is right with the ageing population and be grateful that we have longevity, rather than look at what is wrong! Companies need to embrace the work ethic and knowledge of the over 60s."

She added: "In business there is a genuine problem with the loss of older boomer workers but only a small percentage of organisations are addressing the issue and implementing specific policies and management practices in anticipation of this potential 'talent' loss."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Budgets hold firm despite gloomy economy, research shows

British employers have avoided slashing their budgets for training during the recession because they believe it's vital to their operations, a new study has found.

Researchers analysed figures from various surveys showing that spending in real terms on training fell by only five per cent from 2007 to 2009, and has remained steady since. They also spoke to managers from 52 companies and found that almost all remained committed to keeping their training schemes going.

In an article in the December edition of the journal Work, Employment and Society, the researchers say that "a combination of market intervention and business requirements obliged most employers to sustain training despite the recession". Employers have now turned to more cost-effective ways of training, such as online courses.

Professor Alan Felstead and Dr Nick Jewson, of Cardiff University, and Professor Francis Green, of the LLAKES Centre at the Institute of Education in London, said that employers knew they needed training because they had to meet obligations such as "compliance with legal requirements, meeting operational needs and satisfying customer demands".

The researchers analysed data from the National Employer Skills Survey, which showed that total UK training expenditure rose from £38.6 billion in 2007 to £39.2 billion in 2009, a real terms fall of five per cent when inflation is considered.

They also examined the British Chambers of Commerce quarterly survey of 2,000 firms, which found that from 2010 to the middle of 2011, more employers said their training had increased recently than said it had decreased. The CBI Industrial Trends survey of 5,000 firms, which looked at predictions about training spend in the year ahead, showed more companies over the same period were positive than negative about training.

Felstead said: "A clear majority of the respondents had modified their training regimes without entirely abandoning them. They typically reported some retrenchment in expenditure, often as part of general cost cutting.

"Respondents also expressed their commitment to the maintenance of training coverage, not only with respect to statutory minimum training and mandatory continuing professional development, but also for longer-term skills enhancement and succession planning. Even in organisations that had suffered redundancies and short-time working, some efforts had been made to protect and preserve training.

In their interviews with managers from 52 companies, including engineering, legal, food-making and construction firms, the researchers found that "interviewees were virtually unanimous in saying that training should not be, and had not been, cut readily or willingly. In addition to awareness of their statutory obligations, they expressed a widespread belief in the strategic contribution of training to productivity.

Jewson added: "Respondents across the sample suggested that the quality of products and services was central to their market competitiveness, which in return reflected their investment in training. This edge became more, not less, significant when customers were hard to find during a recession.

"The general pattern among the respondents was for a retrenchment in training expenditure to be accompanied by a commitment, as far as possible, to maintaining training coverage. As a result, many were actively and consciously seeking more cost-effective ways of delivering training. These developments can be summarised as focusing training on business needs, shifting from external to in-house provision, and increasing the use of on-line and e-learning.

"An overwhelming majority recognised that their enterprises were subject to a range of 'training floors'; that is, forms of training which are indispensable. These included compliance with legal requirements, meeting operational needs, countering skills shortages, addressing market competition, fulfilling managerial commitments, and satisfying customer demands. As a result, employers reported a widespread reluctance to dispense with training altogether and a determination to defend its 'must have' elements."

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UKCES: Young businesses focusing on people and skills

Businesses born in the recession are demonstrating greater commitment to developing their people, according to a survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The UK Commission Employer Perspectives Survey of 15,000 employers, published today found that almost half of private sector employers expect their business to grow over the next 12 months (47 per cent) with only one in ten predicting it would contract over the forthcoming year.

A staggering 71 per cent of young businesses (between one and three years old) are optimistic about their future, compared with only 44 per cent of older businesses (those over three years old), while around 80 per cent of young growth businesses have recruited new staff in the past year - almost double the overall figure of 43 per cent.

The findings of the UK Commission Employer Perspectives Survey will be welcomed by graduates and other young people, who are often advised to seek the security of a well-established blue chip company for their first job, yet find such positions hard to come by.

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills said: "It's often hard, starting out, to find a job.  In the current economic climate that's harder still, but this research suggests there are opportunities in places and with employers that young people may not focus on immediately.

"These are still early findings, but they bear out what many successful entrepreneurs say, that the best time to start a business is in a recession. These young businesses tend to have a resilient and entrepreneurial attitude.  In effect, they are making their own luck and resetting the benchmark of exactly what it means to be a successful business. They understand the skills of their staff are a source of competitive advantage and are investing in them for the long term."

The report also finds that:

Growing businesses are more likely to offer apprenticeships with 16 per cent offering formal apprenticeships compared to 13 per cent of all establishmentsNearly all young growth business provide training for their staff (90 per cent, compared with 73 per cent overall)Young growth businesses are much more likely to recruit young people (47 per cent, compared with 27 per cent overall)Young growth businesses are much more likely to offer apprenticeships and other formal vocational qualifications

Sean Taggart is a commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and led a management buy-out of his company, Albatross Group of Travel Companies, in 2008, a week after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

He said: "This is all about new businesses being set up and grown in ways that specifically take advantage of the opportunities that the 'new normal' is creating, something that we certainly recognise within Albatross. This survey appears to show, in particular, how agile and resourceful new businesses are being in delivering growth through their people.

"When you're a young, small company every minute and every person counts.  So making sure that your team is equipped and competent to get the best out of every opportunity is top of any successful entrepreneur's to-do list."

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CIPD: Bad managers are influencing employee motivation

Not taking responsibility and telling staff what to do rather than consulting them are some of the worst attributes of bad managers, according to new research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

These characteristics are identified alongside some of the more obvious behaviours styles, such as inappropriate humour or favouritism, as ways in which managers undermine employee motivation and wellbeing.

The CIPD research, Managing for sustainable employee engagement: Developing a behavioural framework, pinpoints how managers need to behave to get the best out of people, by both engaging employees and preventing and managing stress.

The report highlights how managers who are calm under pressure, invest time in talking to their staff, get to know them as individuals and discuss their career development are likely to benefit from higher levels of employee engagement and lower levels of stress and absence. These characteristics are among a number of positive manager behaviours identified by employees as encouraging them to go the extra mile at work, while also supporting their wellbeing.

Further findings found that managers are more like to motivate and retain their employees if they: consult people rather than simply telling them what to do; take responsibility if things go wrong or mistakes are made and; who regularly ask staff if they are OK, are more likely to motivate and retain their employees.

The research is based on analysis of responses from more than 500 employees and 120 managers, across seven organisations, to a survey which asked respondents to give their views on their immediate line manager, their level of engagement with their work/organisation and their wellbeing. It also draws on joint work the CIPD conducted with the Health and Safety Executive on the relationship between line managers and stress in the workplace.

Commenting on the findings, Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said: "Most people will at some time in their working lives have been managed by a 'David Brent' whose use of inappropriate humour and favouritism highlights a lack of self-awareness and inability to manage people.

"However, our research shows that arguably, it is the mediocre managers, who too often 'fly under the radar' in organisations, that are even more damaging to staff engagement over time and often inadvertently cause stress.  Our research shows that managers who don't find time to talk individually to their employees, who pass on stress, who panic about deadlines and fail to consult and provide advice, erode motivation and undermine employee health and wellbeing.

"In tough economic times, how people are managed on a day-to-day basis becomes even more critical for organisations that want to engage and get the most out of their workforce. Our research unpicks the behaviours that managers need to exhibit if they want to get the best out of their staff while preventing and managing stress. Organisations big and small should take note and ensure that their line managers are properly equipped to get the most out of their people."

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Manager confidence rises for 2013, report reveals

Business confidence amongst managers has exceeded 50 per cent for the first time since the Coalition came to power, a new study finds.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has revealed that managers on the whole are more positive about the year to come.

Despite 2012 being a difficult year, The Future Forecast report reveals that 53 per cent of managers are optimistic about their organisation's prospects for 2013, 10 per cent up on last year's figures. In addition, 68 per cent of respondents now feel secure in their jobs, up six per cent from 2011.

Managers' confidence in the job market has also increased, with 47 per cent now thinking it's likely that they'd get a new job within three months if they were made redundant. Furthermore, almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) are optimistic about staff morale in 2013.

Discussing the findings, Ann Francke, CMI chief executive, said: "We could be seeing a pivotal moment, where UK employers start to look ahead with renewed optimism. While 2013 is expected to be another tough year, it looks like many managers are confident about their organisations' prospects. The challenge is to convert this optimism into results in the months ahead, which means focusing on developing their teams to deliver results."   

The report also shows that managers have learned valuable lessons from the economic instability of the past few years and are focusing on developing their staff to turn their organisations around.

The findings indicate that employers are shifting to a people-focused approach to achieve success in 2013 - three of their top five priorities were employee engagement (a medium or high priority for 81 per cent), people development (87 per cent) and performance management (95 per cent). In line with this, there is strong support for staff-oriented policies that may have long-term effects on business growth, such as the right to request flexible working and reforming parental leave.

"Businesses are getting to grips with the fact that growth comes from growing their own people. Yet 43 per cent of managers say they don't have the right staff in place to meet business objectives. This calls for a real focus on people and more investment in staff development to help engage employees and strengthen their skills to boost performance. 2013 will be no walk in the park, but the organisations that get the best out of their people will be the ones that succeed," Francke concluded.

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Businesses invited to bid for £150m to build workforce skills

Employers in Birmingham will learn how they can benefit from a share of a £150 million pot to improve their training activities at an upcoming workshop.

The event is aimed at businesses working in the advanced manufacturing sector. It will take place on Friday 18th January at Maple House, 150 Corporation Street, from 9am until 11am.

A second round of the 'Employer Ownership of Skills' pilot was launched by skills minister Matthew Hancock last month. The scheme enables businesses to bid for funding to create projects which will deliver the skills they need to grow.

Neil McLean, a commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: "Across the UK, but particularly in the West Midlands, our research shows there is a clear need for more businesses to address their skill needs now if they are to be competitive.

"Ambitious employers must think carefully about how they can develop their workforce, taking account of skills which are missing or identifying those which have the potential to support business growth.

"Through collaborating across a sector, region or supply chain to form partnerships with training providers and other organisations, businesses can design, develop and implement the types of innovative projects we know can have a lasting impact.

"I would urge employers of all sizes to attend this event to learn more about how the pilot might be of benefit."

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REC chief pushes for a skills pipeline

The lack of skilled staff in key sectors like engineering, technology and oil & gas is acting as a real barrier to economic growth.

That was the view of Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, who says that the Government and training providers need to do all they can to ensure Britain's workforce have the skills needed to fill the jobs that are available.

Speaking exclusively to TJ, he said that building a skills pipeline is paramount and has urged a focus on careers guidance.

"There has been some excellent news in the labour market but recruiters are reporting that certain skills are increasingly in short supply. Employer demand is outstripping supply for workers with certain skills like IT, engineering, care work and sales and recruiters are struggling to find a range of good quality candidates to put forward for certain roles," he said.

"The lack of skilled staff in key sectors including engineering, technology and oil & gas risk is a real barrier to wider economic growth. As well as building the skills pipeline through an effective careers guidance network, immediate actions must include encouraging employers to offer apprenticeships, developing a 'fast-track' training system for growth sectors and ensuring immigration policy reflects labour market needs.

"The economy is still fragile and the government needs to do all it can to ensure that Britain's workforce have the skills that are needed to fill the jobs that are available."

He added: "We are also concerned with the government's decision to cut back on careers advice and work experience in schools as this risks damaging the prospects of young people attempting to join the world of work. Careers guidance offers an opportunity to encourage young people to consider roles where there are shortages and could increase their chances of finding work when they leave education."

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Mobile tool to aid employee engagement

Mobile learning providers Skill Pill M-Learning (SPML) has partnered with change specialists Martin Reddington Associates (MRA)to deliver En-Gauge, an employee engagement application.

En-Gauge allows employees to submit responses to set questions via their mobile.  Both data and opinions/sentiments are automatically analysed using analysis techniques that can be adapted to provide a live dashboard of the levels of employee engagement within the organisation.

Martin Reddington of MRA said: "The ability to measure the employment value proposition [EVP] or employment deal using SPML's mobile technology will provide HR managers with actionable insights that can make a positive difference to employee engagement and wellbeing. 

"The unique blend of statistical and sentiment data moves beyond the notion of an engagement score as the primary outcome by looking at the processes, revealed through conversational practice, that produce engagement. Our partnership with SPML allows us to deliver our EVP system via mobile for the rapid turnaround in delivery and analysis of EVP data."

SPML founder Gerry Griffin added: "En-Gauge represents another step forward in our rapid growth as a leader in delivering and gathering information and data through mobile. We can collect and collate this employee data for a quick and effective report delivery, managed through the En-Gauge mobile app.

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Insights achieves Investors in People Gold Accreditation

People development company Insights has been awarded Investors in People (IIP) Gold Accreditation for business improvement through people in the UK.

Their accolade represents recognises the highest levels of people management practice, using Investors in People to drive their business forward.

Insights is the third UK based organisation to be awarded Gold status in more than one country, and they have leapt from Bronze status in 2009 to Gold status for 2012.

Commenting on the award, Vivien Buchan, director of finance and operations at Insights, said: "We are delighted to achieve this acknowledgement for our UK and US businesses. This comes from the voice of our people and is a demonstration of the great work being done by many across our business who lead and develop our people in service of our customers.

"We will continue to build on this to achieve our goal, where everyone in our organisation can say in their own way, 'I love my job and I love this Company'."

Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland, said "This is a fantastic achievement for Insights. I would like to congratulate the organisation and its people on their commitment to continuous improvement.

"Investors in People offer a flexible, practical and easy to use business improvement tool designed to help organisations and their people achieve their objectives. I hope that more organisations will be encouraged to sharpen their competitive edge by choosing to work with us."

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Training company credited with ILM status

Preston-based Real Results Training has been credited with the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) Approved Centre status and will begin delivering internationally recognised ILM qualifications.

Joining the largest awarding body for leadership and management qualifications in the UK and a global network of over 2,000 accredited centres, Real Results Training will offer qualifications to businesses across all sectors.  

With a fragile economy and the effects of the recession continuing to bite, Real Results Training is encouraging local business leaders in Lancashire to gain the edge over their competition.  By taking such management qualifications, participants work through the skills needed to manage their teams more effectively to achieve organisational goals and ensuring that they are equipped to tackle the challenges being faced, emerging stronger as a result.

Carolyn Blunt, managing director at Real Results Training said: "We went through a rigorous approval process to achieve our ILM status and are delighted that we will provide specialist leadership and management qualifications to individuals and employers from our local area.

"By investing in management development, organisations can ensure that their leaders are confident in their abilities and able to lead employees through the challenging times ahead. Training courses can be tailored to the needs of individual organisations and their managers and we firmly believe that nurturing effective leaders through management development is the single most cost-effective investment."

ILM qualifications are designed to help managers increase staff efficiency and motivation, ensuring that their businesses runs at an optimum level of productivity.

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Consulting clients put their weight behind flexible working

The majority of consulting clients (82 per cent) say having flexible working as part of a management consultancy proposal would not negatively impact their buying decision.

That was the key finding in a study by Research Now, which found that almost two thirds (65 per cent) of consulting clients had already engaged a consulting team on a flexible basis, with only two per cent finding it a negative experience.

Overwhelmingly, 85 per cent of clients felt that having the best consulting firm for the job was more important than their working hours.

Three quarters (76 per cent) also stated they would expect management consultancies to promote flexible working, as they change their own internal working practices, since they judge consultancies on the results of their work, rather than hours worked.

Alan Leaman, chief executive of the MCA, said: "Our research has found that consulting clients are willing to embrace more flexible working practices from their consultants - focusing on the results they achieve rather than the hours that they work. This comes at a good time, as firms across the industry are offering their consultants more job flexibility to provide a better work-life balance and to encourage the recruitment and retention of top talent."    

Consulting clients said that the biggest challenge of consultants working flexibly as managing them and their availability. However, those who had previously worked part time or reduced hours themselves said they thought communication rather than availability would be a challenge.  

Leaman added: "To help clients feel more confident about engaging consulting teams who work more flexibly, firms need to demonstrate their experience of managing flexible arrangements, and how they have overcome the perceived problems of communication and availability."

"As an industry which prides itself on the ability to refine, evolve, analyse and aid clients to implement new ideas, it has recognised the need to offer its talent the same benefits of flexible working as their peers on alternative career paths."

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Arousing interests in students for e-learning courses through creative means

There is no dearth of e-learning courses around the globe. But the question is: are these courses really enhancing the knowledge of children? While researching on this subject I came across staggering results. I found that although the numbers of e-learning courses have increased considerably in recent past; students are still unable to derive 100% benefit from these courses. I know 100% benefit is a mere myth and cannot be achieved in one grasp; but still there has to be a way through which students retain majority of portion in one go without any outside interface or pressure from parents. Once that has been done, the real worth of e-learning courses can be derived.

It is often said that content is the king. This is absolutely true for good e-learning courses. Although designing an e-learning course is also an integral part of the big deal; without game-changing content, it is very difficult to arouse interest in the minds of the students. Now this is a very big deal, because if you make students yearn for your course; half of your problem is solved. With so much competition, the expectations are quite high in terms of quality content delivery and on top of it; the other criteria is that content should be in sync with the designs of the website. This is really a high pressure situation, because you need to be at the top of your game to succeed at this level.

Tutors also need to be in regular touch with the students so that they can provide proper guidance to them after specific period for instance; weekly or fortnightly as per their convenience. This will enable students to get personalized touch from the tutors. The major objective of providing personalized touch in e-learning courses is to make students genuinely interested in the course. They can then ask relevant questions to the tutors thereby getting additional knowledge on the subjects.

Although every e-learning course provider rhetorically knows about these basic ideas they are not able to transform them into realities. Now this is a big problem; and this question always remains unanswered: How does one arouse interests in students through e-learning courses? I know you are jumping off your seats and are saying every other fellow knows the answer. But is the answer really that simple? Are we really able to understand the needs of the students? What are the different factors which make or break the success of an e-learning course? In this blog; I will try to answer all these questions and hopefully when I end this blog; you will have a rough idea of what exactly is required in terms of creativity to encourage students to study hard for the respective courses? How can you make a boring subject interesting for the students?

Now remember that when I talk about students I am talking about children within age group of 4-15 years. This is the age where children learn from their surroundings and are able to grasp things quite easily. This is also the age wherein; the inbuilt creativity in children can be developed without any force or compulsion. The basic objective of an e-learning course should be to encourage the students to use their creativity and get innovative solutions on their own by solving the problems. Remember that getting a different solution for a problem every time does not make a child dumb. It is our perception which makes things right or wrong. Once we have adapted to the way a child thinks, it will be very easy to design a course curriculum which will not only impart knowledge; but also enhance the creativity in children.

I am yet to come across an e-learning course which takes the point discussed earlier into consideration; while designing the course curriculum. This is a very sad thing because it also shows that e-learning course providers are not able to understand the needs of the children and hence, are failing to create interests in students. So, the very first point to consider while arousing interest in students is to THINK LIKE A CHILD; and design the course curriculum keeping in mind the creativity aspect of children that can be enhanced through designing innovative course curriculum.

Thinking like a child is not an easy thing. You might also question me: what do you mean by creating a course curriculum presuming yourself as a child? Now this is a very important question, which needs to answered in detail; because most of the e-learning course providers miss out on understanding this simple criteria; and end up messing up with their entire course curriculum.

You will not end up with the same fate; as you have already begun the success journey which will guarantee that your course is quite different and unique from other e-learning course providers. Remember when you were a child there were three most important things which created interests in your minds. Let me list these three things:

Let me explain each of these points in detail with a scenario-based example which will clear the concepts in your mind:

Engagement: Imagine your childhood days are back again. You are sitting on your couch playing video game. As you cross each level the excitement arouses and you are totally involved in the game. In other words you are engaged in that activity which keeps you from doing other activities till you have completed the game thoroughly. Now get back to the present and visualize whether the course content that you have developed has engaging points in it. Whether it can keep a child involved for a majority of their time without diverting to other activities?

If your answer is yes; then you have found the perfect winning formulae for designing the e-learning course. In that case you do not have to read further. But if you are still confused and are asking the same question i.e., How to engage children in the course curriculum? The answer lies within the problem. Create the curriculum in such a manner that it seems like fun to the children. Make it so engaging that they do not wish you get off their study room till they have completed the specific chapter or the desired objective. You can do it with interactive videos or pictures that engage students to the course. You can also create a unique concept which will give you the first-mover advantage over other e-learning course providers. The key to the solution is to think creatively and differently from others. Remember if your course is not different or unique then it will not survive the tough competition in the market. Be very proactive research a lot and come up with creative solutions. By being creative and different you are giving yourself an opportunity to engage the children to your e-learning course. That should be the ultimate bate to attract parents and children.

Competition: Remember the good old times in your childhood when you used to have a healthy competition amongst your friends while playing cricket or football to become a wicket keeper or goal keeper. Try to visualize the kind of competition that used to take place to bat first or to keep the wickets while playing cricket. Likewise try to remember the competition that used to take place to fight for your place as a goal keeper while playing football. Counting the number of runs or goals scored by each individual to prove your mantle in the entire group and surpassing that figure to become the ultimate winner used to be your sole objective.

Likewise, in the present scenario, games have changed; but with the help of social networking sites it is always possible to share your academic scores with your colleagues, so that there is healthy competition amongst all the children and everyone can give their best to achieve their academic goals. Thinking out-of-the-box can also be quite profitable for an e-learning course provider; as they can cater to an all-together new market. For example; integrating games with course curriculum can increase the potential of success for the e-learning courses.

Rewards: As a child, remember the enthusiasm that you used to feel while getting a reward for a sport. It was considered to be a big achievement. Likewise when children are rewarded for the dedication and application that they show for learning and scoring good marks in the quiz; it results in positive reinforcement. This is the ultimate game changing moment for the e-learning course provider since; they now have all the cards in their hands; and deep down in their heart they know that their course is an instant success with the children. They can then experiment with something unique and different for the betterment of the course curriculum.  

In the end; I would like to conclude this blog by highlighting couple of things which will give an opportunity to e-learning course providers to get success with flying colors.

Always give importance to learning and knowledge rather than marks and ranking system.Even if a child does not score well encourage him/her with positive feedback so that they can get back to studies and perform well in the next quiz/exam.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com.

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3 Components for Developing a Great eLearning Game

As technology has advanced, lots of innovative ideas are being tried in the education domain to make the experience of children pleasurable. Keeping this in mind, this article focuses on crucial components for developing a great e-learning game.

Combining education with entertainment is not a cup of tea for ordinary developer. It requires lot of creativity and patience. The smooth layouts and graphics add to the visuals of the game. But the major purpose of the e-learning game should be to impart knowledge to the students. But it is quite subjective to define a good e-learning game. It is still an unknown entity which has not been answered properly. This article talks about different components which help in developing a great e-learning game. Let us look at these components in detail:

Perfect combination of learning and entertainment: Always ensure that there is a perfect blend of learning and entertainment while developing an e-learning game. Care should be taken that the learning objectives behind developing the game is fulfilled. For example; for English you can have various word jigjaw puzzles and memory games to strengthen the memory of the student. Always try to integrate all the crucial aspects that are important from the learning perspective to be present in the game.Give impetus to the students to play the game: Children are the most difficult target audience to attract because they genuinely like or dislike the game. Hence, it is very important to provide proper impetus to the students to play the games. For example; if there are puzzles in the game each level needs to present different challenge so that children do not get bored with the games and play to learn something from it. Engagement and attraction are two things which make children focus on the game.Target the essential elements of learning in the game: Always focus on the learning aspect in the game. Try to eradicate those portions wherein the learning aspect gets diverted. For example; if you are playing a game on grammar which deals with identifying verbs and nouns from a group of sentences. If you are constantly clicking on the ground to walk around, examining surroundings to identify boxes and then picking them up, the verbs that get collected are not of relevance as they are not part of the learning mechanism.

Context is of prime importance in an e-learning game. An experienced e-learning provider would follow the points mentioned above and create extravagant e-learning games for children.

About emPower
emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com.

Media Contact (emPower)
Jason Gaya

12806 Townepark Way
Louisville, KY 40243-2311
Ph: 502 -400-9374


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Ineffective training leaving businesses exposed, report warns

Ineffective security awareness training is leaving UK businesses dangerously exposed to the significant consequences of an information security breach, consulting firm Protiviti has warned.

Despite increased levels of training at both financial services and non-FS businesses, Protiviti warns that for many people, the training is too basic, simply a box ticking exercise, or worse, giving them a false sense of security. 

Protiviti's Security Awareness Survey, which canvassed 1,000 employees including senior executives, found that four-fifths (81 per cent) of respondents believed they have an average to excellent understanding of modern IT security and risks within their organisation.

However, in a separate Protiviti study of senior information security and risk professionals working across a range of UK firms, it was reported that key information security messages are still not getting through to significant numbers of employees, and that good information security practices are still not part of the risk culture at many UK businesses.  This is despite recent, high-profile cases of security breaches, often caused by human error and the severe consequences that have followed.

According to senior information security and risk professionals, around two-thirds (61 per cent) of employees actually have a generally low level of understanding of information security risks and fail to put into practice effective procedures they have been taught in training.  Almost three quarters (71 per cent) thought employees had a poor understanding of the positive role they could play in reducing security risks and a majority (57 per cent) said they had noticed no change in employee behaviour after completing security awareness training.

In contrast, according to the Security Awareness Survey, 93% of respondents that had undergone security training believed that it had made them more aware of information security risks and what they needed to do in order to reduce them.  Alarmingly, almost four in ten office workers said they have never had data security awareness training. This figure increases to more than half (52 per cent) if you only look at non-financial services organisations.

Ryan Rubin, director, Protiviti UK, said: "Many respondents to our survey report that they have made significant changes in the way that they work and the way they use technology at home following security awareness training.  There is, therefore, value in training, provided it is effective. 

"However, information security training needs to be more focused on employees' roles and the consequences of information security breaches and less on the basic mechanics of security."

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QA to help transform learning and development at Fujitsu

Training provider QA has been chosen by technology company Fujitsu to help transform the learning and development within the organisation.

Having been selected as the most suitable learning partner, QA will supplement internal training resource and oversee all of Fujitsu's externally sourced training. The appointment supports a key part of Fujitsu's wider HR strategy which aligns all HR activity to business goals and objectives.

"Investing in our people is key to the success of our business and we are driving business performance by empowering our people," said Brenton Clark, head of organisation capability development at Fujitsu.

Led by HR Director Ella Bennett, the HR function at Fujitsu is delivering on this vision by transforming the delivery of L&D.  "An engaged workforce is our most important asset," said Bennett.

"Ensuring our people have the skills they need to succeed, and the HR support required to consistently perform at the highest level, we are providing the business with the principle asset it needs for growth."

Jamie Thomas, account director at QA, added: "Fujitsu are transforming their learning provision in to a service that is strategically aligned to business goals. It is therefore focussed on delivering the development their people need to ensure the organisation is successful. 

"QA are excited to be part of this and the service provides an ideal example of how we can deliver a real learning partnership."

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CIPD urges focus on values-based leadership

Values-based leadership needs to be developed across the public sector if the twin objectives of reducing spending and providing customer-focused services are to be met. 

That's according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Public Sector People Managers' Association (PPMA), exploring how chief executives and HR directors in a range of local service organisations are leading efforts to transform service delivery in line with the Government's localism agenda.

The report is based on interviews with leaders from 14 local service organisations including local government, police and fire services, and highlights the priority chief executives are placing on involving staff in creating new values that underpin the new customer-centric service delivery cultures they are trying to build. The research demonstrates that a radical re-engineering of public service delivery, coupled with cost cutting, can't happen overnight - it involves changing public sector values and culture, as well as how people are led and managed from the boardroom to the front line.

Further findings consider how public service leaders are redesigning their organisations to enable them to deliver services in different ways. Many of the leaders interviewed have recognised that if public services are to engage staff to innovate and respond to changing customer requirements, then leadership can no longer remain in the realm of the executive board alone.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said: "The public sector leaders featured in this report recognise that the only way that public services can be made more efficient and more responsive to the needs of service users is if employees on the front-line are trusted to innovate and are empowered to act with more autonomy.

"This requires a fundamental culture change away from traditional command and control styles of leadership to one in which leadership is distributed across organisations. This will not happen overnight and can only be achieved if managers at all levels are equipped with the necessary leadership skills to involve and engage their staff.

"These same skills are needed to underpin the move to a different type of employment deal in the public services, which provides employees with more flexibility and improved skills development opportunities to compensate for the erosion of traditional public sector benefits such as job security and a final salary pension."

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Companies failing to take advantage of funding for training

Millions of funds are available for training in the construction sector, but employers, especially SMEs are failing to take advantage of this money.

That was the view of Kim Bendzak, managing director of Apple Construction Training, who believes that businesses need to act urgently if they are to reap the benefits of the new infrastructure projects set to unveiled in the Chancellor's autumn statement yesterday.

Bendzak believes that British construction could be facing a skills shortage that could threaten the future of the industry if more is not done to raise awareness of the funding available for training and more advice provided  to businesses on how to go about securing this money.

"A properly skilled workforce is not only essential for the health and safety of any plant, but vital if we're to get the construction market out of recession and produce high quality infrastructure," said Bendzak.

"Construction output is at its lowest since 1999 so the Government's announcement in the Autumn statement is positive for the industry but without a skilled workforce, any development will be hampered as employers won't be ready to take advantage of any work that comes through.

"Employers, especially SMEs, are facing tough times; having to balance the cost of training - up-skilling and re-training employees or training new staff - against an uncertain and volatile market and getting funding for training could therefore be a lifeline for many businesses but we are finding that few are aware of the grants available, or know how to go about accessing them.

"The industry and Government needs to work together to raise greater awareness among businesses of the financial support available with details on how to go about applying for these grants. There also needs to be an assessment on whether there is enough money in the training pot to cope with these new infrastructure projects to ensure we have enough of the right type of skilled workers in place."

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Assessment specialist selected as accredited CPD provider

Assessment specialist Talent Q has become the Chartered Banker Institute's first accredited provider of continuing professional development (CPD) for bankers and financial professionals.

In a new initiative, the Chartered Banker Institute is accrediting CPD providers to make it easier for banks and financial services to find appropriate suppliers who can deliver high quality learning and career development support.

Talent Q has been accredited to provide six learning modules including; contemporary strategic issues in banking, effective delegation skills, fundamental aspects of banking, negotiation and influencing skills, and time, attention and productivity. Each module can be delivered in-house, as either a half-day or full-day session.

"Chartered Banker status is the gold standard for banking and financial professionals," said Colin Morrison, deputy chief executive at the Chartered Banker Institute.

"Attaining the Chartered Banker qualification is the foundation for a successful career but learning is a lifelong journey and practitioners have to stay up-to-date if they are to meet the ever increasing expectations of customers, colleagues, shareholders and the industry regulators. CPD enables them to broaden their knowledge and skills and demonstrate that they're maintaining their competence.

"Through our new accredited CPD provider scheme, we want to help organisations to find the best suppliers and we've started by accrediting Talent Q. They understand the world of finance, they have the right ethos of continuous improvement and we're confident that their top quality learning programmes will deliver professional excellence."

Individual practitioners who want to use the title 'Chartered Banker' need to undertake 35 hours of CPD activity each year.

Richard MacKinnon, head of learning and development solutions at Talent Q, said: "Momentous changes have been forced upon the financial services sector, creating a challenging environment in which practitioners need to think strategically, influence others, manage talent, manage their own productivity and delegate effectively.

"We've created specific learning modules in each of these areas that will help practitioners to improve their performance in their existing role and to prepare themselves for the next step in their career."

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Partnership aims to create leading workplace learning company

The ability to draw on the wider resources of the City & Guilds Group should aid Kineo in their quest for continuous innovation.

That was the view of Steve Rayson, managing director of Kineo, who believes City & Guilds' acquisition of the learning solutions provider will provide a great platform for success in the future.

Educational company City & Guilds announced this week that it had acquired learning provider Kineo, with the aim of creating the world's leading workplace learning company.

Rayson is excited at the prospect of linking up with City & Guilds and is certain that the partnership will be beneficial to both businesses.

"Over the last seven years Kineo has become a leading global provider of learning technology solutions, working with large organisations such as McDonald's, Barclays, Nikon and M&S. We are very excited about joining the City & Guilds Group as there are many benefits to our clients," he said.

"Firstly, it'll enable us to offer a wider range of services from e-learning to accredited programmes, with both City & Guilds and ILM. We'll be able to scale in order to support large programmes and the global delivery of learning solutions, thanks to our presence across the UK and internationally.

"We'll also be able to create specialist teams to support people development strategy, from sourcing and developing new talent through to new leadership development. And it'll ensure we can commit to investing in research and innovation, including learning technologies.

"Going forward, we will continue to operate under the Kineo brand, as a separate company but as part of the City & Guilds Group. The ability to draw on the wider resources of the City & Guilds Group, including ILM offers many opportunities. We aim to grow Kineo to become the world's leading workplace learning company, backed by City & Guilds."

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Employers not prepared for an ageing workforce, study finds

Employers are not prepared for an ageing workforce and are also not doing enough to prepare for a change, a new Cedefop study finds.

The research from the European centre for vocational training covers other EU Member States including Germany, Italy, England, Austria and Belgium, but also looks at developments in Canada and the USA; sectors discussed ranged from the pharmaceutical industry to retail.

Findings show that few companies are doing enough to prepare for change despite evidence that investing in learning later in life can bring real benefits to companies as well as individuals. It emphasised that employers need first and foremost to develop 'demographic literacy', i.e. to understand how to create a learner-friendly environment for employees of all ages. Successful companies, research shows, take a life-cycle approach to active ageing, addressing the learning needs of employees from recruitment to retirement.

This may require a significant change of attitude from all sides. Companies should get older workers involved in mentoring and coaching activities, and make sure their work teams capitalise on the potential of different generations working together. Workers must be encouraged to embrace learning at all ages. People older than 54 can be less optimistic about whether they will get to use new skills, and it is up to their workplaces to show that their efforts will be valued. One study in Italy demonstrates that older employees underestimate the benefits of training.

Jasper Van Loo, project manager at Cedefop, said: "The book underlines that ageing is not an isolated issue. It has to be considered alongside other  trends - to name a few, globalisation, the greening of economies and societies, changes in the nature of work and the workplace, trends in ICT, new developments in learning and the rising importance of entrepreneurship skills.

"All of these developments influence what skills are needed in the future, and these skills will need to be delivered also to older workers.  Of course we should not only think of ageing people as subject to these trends, they will also shape them as agents of change - and in any case, their active involvement in this process is necessary.

"The publication also draws implications for employers' HR policies. They need to re-examine the assumption that the cost of training older workers outweighs the benefits, on the grounds that their careers will be shorter. In reality, benefits appear to be lower only where employers do not sufficiently adapt the training to the older worker's learning preferences."

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New £10m training centre for apprentices opens in Basildon

The Prospects Learning Foundation has opened the country's first Group Training Association (GTA) centre since the Government welcomed findings of a report by Professor Lorna Unwin on the role that GTAs can play in engaging young people in apprenticeships.

There are now 300 employed apprentices and 200 FE students are now enjoying state-of-the-art facilities in a new £10 million building in Basildon which offers courses across a wide range of disciplines in building services.  These include heating and ventilation, plumbing, electrical installation, refrigeration and air conditioning.

At the opening ceremony, leaders of the Government's National Apprenticeship Service and the Education Funding Agency were joined by a host of other national and local VIPs to celebrate the formal opening of the new centre.  They toured the new workshops, seminar rooms, auditorium, restaurant and a learning resource centre before Simon Wells, director of Delta T Services, declared the GTA open for business.

The opening of a GTA for building services follows the Foundation's earlier establishment of two GTAs across the Thames Gateway for aviation and engineering services respectively.  The charity also runs the unique Futures secondary school in Southend offering 11-to 19-year olds a blended academic and vocational curriculum in an innovative environment which incorporates an apprenticeship training centre.

The new employer-led GTA forms part of the Foundation's skills campus in Basildon which already trains 500 engineering and construction apprentices and students. During National Apprenticeship Week earlier this year, Ofsted cited the campus as one of three examples of 'Learning from the Best' apprenticeship provision in the country.

Neil Bates, chief executive of Prospects Learning Foundation, said: "The new campus is attracting the interest of some major national employers who want to invest in the skills of young people for their highly skilled workforces.  Because the GTA is led by local employers, businesses can easily appreciate the modern, industry led skills training areas on offer.

"When apprentice numbers for 16-to 18-year olds in construction and engineering have been falling nationally, the opening of a GTA in Basildon is a very timely and positive reminder of the value that GTAs can bring to the skills agenda on a not-for-profit basis, as Professor Lorna Unwin' s Commission report on GTAs has recently highlighted."

David Way, the chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:  "The opening of the new centre at Basildon reinforces the important role that GTAs play in engaging young people in apprenticeships.  I am delighted to see such a high level of investment which underpins our commitment to raising the quality of apprenticeships and supports important sectors including engineering and construction.  With the support of major employers we can show young people and their parents that there are clear opportunities to climb the ladder right to the top through taking up apprenticeships."    

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HR managers told to develop technical skills

A fundamental personality clash may explain why HR practitioners in financial services companies often experience conflict when dealing with internal clients, according to assessment specialist Talent Q.

In a study of the personality profiles of 5,000 financial services employees, Talent Q found that the typical professional in the sector is a competitive, achievement-oriented, persuasive communicator who likes data, evidence, structure and detail. However, these traits are very different from those of the typical HR practitioner, who is more consultative, more willing to allow others to take the lead and less likely to rigidly adhere to rules, processes and deadlines.

"Our study shows that, in financial services companies, an HR practitioner has a fundamentally different working style to a typical line manager," said Richard MacKinnon, head of learning & development solutions at Talent Q.

"Confusion and disagreements can therefore occur when the two parties interact with each other because HR practitioners are essentially trying to be collaborative and supportive in a world which values being forceful and direct."

While Talent Q's study concentrated on the world of financial services, the company believes that this is a wider problem which exists in other sectors too.

"In our experience, many HR practitioners are working outside of their 'comfort zone', for example by adhering to strict procedures rather than being more spontaneous, which would be their natural preference. It' s no wonder that some practitioners claim that a lack of understanding exists internally about their role and about the expertise they bring to the business."

Talent Q claims that given the differences in working style, the only real option for HR practitioners who want to become more influential, and want to deal more effectively with internal stakeholders, is to change their role.

"They need to shift their focus and develop their technical, interpersonal and professional skills to become what we refer to as HR Entrepreneurs," MacKinnon added.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Suppliers commit to adding value for customers

Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) suppliers Brammer have invested £500,000 in a training facility aimed at helping its employees optimise added value for its customers.

The training centre, located at Brammer's National Distribution Centre in Wolverhampton, comprises a classroom area, product training zone, and 'break-out' area for informal discussions and problem-solving.

The company has a strong track record in training and development - a commitment endorsed through its annual customer surveys - but the creation of the new facility marks the beginning of a new chapter in Brammer's continuous improvement in this area.

Ian Wearne, Head of training & development for Brammer UK, said: "In order to add maximum value for our customers - our key business goal - we realise that we have to optimise our understanding of the issues and challenges they face, whether these be technical or more business-led.

"While our nationwide team of close to 900 people boasts a vast array of knowledge gleaned from more than 9,000 years of experience, it's vital that we ensure our understanding of our customers' operations - and the multiple ways in which we can add value to them through our unrivalled product and service offering - is second to none.

"Ultimately our aim is to grow our business further but we will only do that by being able to operate in true partnership with our customers, so all the training is geared to meeting the real business needs facing those customers and maximising our ability to deliver value for them."

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Corporates lack confidence in ability to retain vital staff, study finds

Less than half of senior managers in UK and Ireland blue chip organisations are confident of retaining individuals who are critical to their success.

That was the key finding from a survey by talent management consultancy Right Management which reveals that only 55 per cent of managers believe they are effective at retaining their future senior leaders. This is despite the fact that most organisations invest in development programmes for key people and many expect that investment to increase.

This survey of 200 senior managers found that ninety two per cent of organisations have formal programmes in place to develop their future leaders and76 per cent have programmes in place for people with specialist skills and knowledge. However, only 49 per cent of senior managers questioned believed that these critical individuals are being developed in such a way that will help their organisation achieve its business objectives.

Mark Hodgson, practice leader of talent management in Right Management, said: "The results suggest a lack of creative thinking in the way development programmes are structured, particularly for high value individuals" .

"Development practice is an important part of how organisations retain their key people but success is determined by detail. Achieving the right blend of development activity is critical. Worryingly, organisations are placing the majority of their investment solely in traditional development programmes instead of blending this with experiential development opportunities such as stretch assignments, secondments, coaching and mentoring, all of which in our experience are far more effective for developing high potential people who learn best by doing."

The survey also shows that 36 per cent don't measure their success in retaining high value individuals and 25 per cent don't measure success when retaining their high potential, future leaders. Where measurement does take place, organisations use retention rates, appraisals and the rate and numbers of promotions.

Hodgson also believes that current practices are of particular worry for businesses trying to create leaders with the kind of skill sets required for global challenges.

"Traditional thinking on how best to develop people will not create leaders with that range of competencies. Companies need to demand that their suppliers and partners are much more creative when helping them develop critical people in a very challenging business environment."

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Centre recognised for commitment to people development

Organisational development provider Acua Limited was on hand to present an award in London to The Trafford Centre for its commitment to people development.

At the recent British Chambers of Commerce Awards (BCC), Jeanine Mortlock, managing director of Acua, handed over the gong for Commitment to People Development after the company was praised for a programme to improve employee development and customer service across all of its staff and managers.

This has resulted in a host of benefits, with a 17 per cent reduction in the number of complaints last year, 90 per cent customer satisfaction and accreditation to the Investors in People Gold Award.

The Trafford Centre, based in Manchester, employs 328 people and boasts more than 200 stores; beat off competition from hundreds of companies to win the honour, sponsored by Acua Limited.

On presenting the award to Gordon McKinnon from The Trafford Centre, Mortlock said: "As an organisation which works with businesses across a wide range of sectors to develop employee and leadership capability, improve performance and drive business growth we were delighted to sponsor the Commitment to People Development award and we congratulate The Trafford Centre on its success.

"The impact the training programme rolled out by The Trafford Centre has had on employee development and also customer satisfaction is extremely impressive and demonstrates just how instrumental people development programmes can be to business performance."

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Monday, December 3, 2012

TJ Award winners 2012 announced

A partnership between Brighton and Hove Albion FC, the AMEX Community Stadium and training provider 360 Degree Vision scooped three awards at last night's TJ Awards ceremony. The partnership rapidly improved the offering to the team's supporters with the opening of a brand new state of the art stadium. Winning the Learning Partnership, Change Management and Leadership categories, Team Brighton impressed the judges with their leadership programme that was so well aligned with the culture of the organisation that it achieved rapid growth and increased turnover by five times.

NKD Learning in partnership with DHL also did well achieving the top spot in Commercial and second place in Learning Partnership. Motability Operations achieved two silver positions; BSkyB took away silver and two bronze certificates and Specsavers Optical Superstores one silver and a bronze place.

Hosted by journalist and broadcaster Daisy McAndrew the awards were presented in front of an audience of over 450 L&D professionals and experts at one of London's most prestigious venues the Brewery. Commenting on the evening TJ's publisher David Crosby said: "The TJ awards were conceived to inspire excellence and celebrate best practice in learning and development. The standard of entries has become higher each year which is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of all the organisations that enter. Congratulations to all the winners."

To read the full list of winners visit www.trainingjournal.com/awards and the 2013 TJ Awards will be open for entries at the end of January.

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