Dragon Naturally Speaking e-Learning - Training

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CMI: Businesses to focus on growing talent internally

Developing human capital, achieving operational excellence and increasing innovation are the top three challenges facing business leaders this year.

That's according to new Conference Board research conducted in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). The CEO Challenge 2013 report shows that business leaders in cities including London, New York and Shanghai agree that in an environment of slow economic growth, continuous improvement of internal capabilities is a prerequisite for survival.

Human capital was named the number one challenge in both Asia and Europe. In Europe, it rose dramatically from seventh place in last year's edition of the annual survey. The 700 leaders surveyed identified strategies including growing talent internally, providing employee training and development and improving employee engagement as ways of improving and nurturing human capital.  

Despite this strong people focus, improving leadership development programmes, which was ranked the second most important strategy for tackling human capital challenges in 2012, drops to tenth in the current survey. This has prompted CMI to warn leaders that neglecting to improve their management and leadership capacity risks undermining one of the most powerful methods they have for meeting these challenges.

Responding to the findings, CMI's director of strategy and external affairs, Petra Wilton, said: "Faced by tough market conditions, it is encouraging to see businesses focusing more on building their human capital. Businesses are also right to seek to grow the talents of their employees at all levels in the organisation. However, the view of CEO's that leadership development is a lower priority is of significant concern.

"There is a real risk that business leaders overlook one of the most critical aspects of the strategies they are trying to implement, which is the role of their managers. For example, the line manager relationship has been identified as the single most important factor in determining levels of employee engagement.

"What's more, there is evidence that improving management and leadership can boost levels of business performance by as much as 23 per cent, which could make the difference between survival and failure in tough markets. Failing to see management development as a key strategy to develop and engage employees could be making a costly mistake."

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Interim managers hired to bring about change, survey reveals

A growing number of companies are hiring interim managers to spearhead business projects despite a flat economy.

That was one of a number of findings in the latest snapshot survey by interim management provider Russam GMS, which revealed that there was a growth in the number of appointments in the interim management market within the last year.

The number one interim job discipline was change management and transformation - making up 23 per cent of all assignments. Finance specialists were also in demand undertaking 17 per cent of all assignments, with general managers taking on 14 per cent of all assignments.

Interestingly, the research also highlighted that a new professional discipline of change and transformation specialists emerged, with 17 per cent of those questioned describing themselves as change managers. This figure has risen to 20 per cent - the highest category of interims on assignment, overtaking general management and reflecting more interims seeing themselves as change and transformation specialists rather than general managers.

Discussing the findings, Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, said: "Increasingly, businesses are using interims more strategically - to lead change management and transformation programmes - particularly in the finance and banking sectors to undertake special projects or implement new strategies. Interims offer skills and experience that tends not to exist within companies and their immediacy and affordability is very appealing."

Manufacturing and engineering continue to be busy sectors for interims with 11 per cent of assignments, closely followed by financial services (10 per cent) and then both the charity sector and the NHS, each accounting for seven per cent of interims assignments.

"Interim management is one part of the UK economy that values the skills and experience of older executives who kept their skills and knowledge sharp, up to date and relevant.  

"In this context, experience is an instinct about what works best in changing situations and which can contribute hugely to ambitious and entrepreneurial businesses and help them grow and develop," Russam concluded.

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Creativity is in short supply, research reveals

Creativity in the retail and consumer sectors is severely lacking, according to recruitment and talent management company, Futurestep.

Research from the group revealed that creativity was cited as the competency in shortest supply, identified by more than one five organisations (21 per cent), while a further 24 per cent named it as one of the skills that are most difficult to develop in new recruits.

The findings were disclosed as part of Futurestep's annual talent study, surveying more than 1,500 learning professionals across five continents and looking at attitudes towards measuring the impact of talent.

With the economy still in a gloomy state, Futurestep has identified creativity as paramount to success. The view is supported by more than a fifth of businesses, with 21 per cent naming it among the most valuable competencies of retail sector talent. Despite this, 70 per cent of respondents reported that they have no budget for innovation.

Discussing the creativity predicament, Jonathan Brown, EMEA RPO operations director at Futurestep, said: "The creativity crisis that we are seeing in retail is being heightened by the economic climate. Budgets for innovation are squeezed, making creativity with limited resources even more vital.

"The economic situation, however, makes creativity increasingly vital as competition for consumer spend is greater and the expectation of those consumers is higher. Apple is a prime example, reinventing the store in an approach admired by competitors. Retailers that are attracting top creative talent by maintaining a focus on innovation are reaping the benefits by differentiating themselves and creating a competitive advantage, not only in store but across multiple channels including mobile."  

The global study found that customer focus is the most readily available competency among new retail hires, with a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) naming this as easy to find. Functional and technical skills were also cited by 20 per cent of organisations as the easiest competency to develop in new recruits, skills that pose a sharp contrast to the complexities of creativity.

Brown added: "The challenge for the retail and consumer sectors now is to adopt the mechanisms to address it the creativity crisis. An organisation is only as good as the people within it, so without this critical component many businesses may well struggle to deliver upon the high demands of the road to recovery."

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Learning consultancy enhances range of learning materials

A learning consultancy with experience in the e-learning marketplace has enhanced its e-learning video library with two ranges of video-based learning materials.

Learning Light has launched 20 scenario-based videos around the subject of 'difficult conversations' with employees. These cover informal performance discussions; managing change; managing difficult behaviour, and 'more formal discussions'.

David Patterson, director at Learning Light, said: "These short videos are British-made and relate to the UK culture and workplace. These could form a cost-effective part of an in-house training department's armoury."

Learning Light is also making several hundred mobile-friendly online learning videos available from eJ4. Known as the 'e-learning video campus', these short videos cover a wide range of topics, notably focusing on increasing sales and improving performance

"Topics from eJ4 include business grammar, communication styles, communications, customer service, health and wellness, key account selling, leadership, negotiating, presentation skills, professional productivity, retail excellence, selling skills and supervision skills," Patterson added.

"There are also videos on IT skills including Windows7, Microsoft office 2010, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2003."

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Skillsoft: CEOs admit to not investing in older workers

Senior business leaders have openly admitted that they don't invest in training and development for employees over 60, new research has revealed.

The study commissioned by innovation pioneers Skillsoft has exposed a worrying negligence of older workers.

As more and more employees opt to work past the traditional retirement age of 65 in an attempt to make up the shortfall in pension pay-outs, the report by Skillsoft has shown that UK businesses and senior directors are ignoring valuable skills and choosing not to invest in the growing trend of older workers.

Kevin Young, general manager EMEA at Skillsoft, believes that if businesses don't intervene and halt this trend, it could be damaging for them in the long run.

"Two billion people will be over 60 by 2050, many of whom will remain in employment for longer, so organisations need to re-think their training plans to accommodate this growing ageing workforce. The older generation can add so much value to an organisation with their experience, and failing to complement this with the latest key training, could potentially damage the future development of any business," he said.

"With nearly 85 per cent of British bosses not considering training the over 60s as a priority, the problem appears more deep rooted than just a short-term cost-cutting exercise. Changes to the retirement age and uncertainty over pensions means that many over 60s want to work longer and remain an integral part of a company for years to come."

While nearly half (43.1 per cent) of the 503 UK CEOs surveyed claim to invest in training of staff of all ages, the reality is that this isn't happening. A mere eight per cent of bosses admitted to investment in training for staff over 60. The perception is big business is generally to blame, with three quarters of smaller companies (>500 employees) most likely to invest in training for all and less than half of larger businesses (<1,500) prepared to spend on employee development.

"British businesses are putting their future at risk by not investing in the older generation and this potential change in employee demographics should be a catalyst for businesses to rethink their training solutions and budget allocation before a wider skills gap emerges," Young concluded.

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GSE Systems’ professor awarded business partnership honour

A professor who helped to raise more than £200million of funding for major projects in Scotland was recognised at a national awards ceremony.

Dr Graham Wren of GSE Systems, a training and engineering solutions provider, received the Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange Award at Scotland's Interface Excellence Awards in December for his commitment to bringing academics in the industry together.

A major part of Wren's work took place at Strathclyde University's Technology and Innovation Centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Power Networks Demonstration Centre.

"The University of Strathclyde is committed to working with the business community, ensuring that our world-class research provides practical benefits for industry and society," said Wren.

"I am delighted this work has been recognised with such a prestigious award. It is a fitting endorsement of the excellent partnerships being developed between the University and companies throughout Scotland, the UK and beyond."

Interface, established the awards to acknowledge the significant contribution that knowledge exchange is making to Scotland's economy. Seven Scottish businesses and three individuals were short listed for the awards, which recognize the achievements resulting from collaborative partnerships between business and academia.

"GSE Systems understands the importance of strong academic partnerships for the long-term health of industry," said the company's CEO Jim Eberle.

"We have worked with Strathclyde since 2007 and Graham has greatly contributed to the success of our simulation technology as part of the university's curriculum."  

Strathclyde is home to the GSE Systems Power Station Simulator Suite, a £2M facility that underpins research, education and continuing professional development activities at the university. 

More than £23 million (net GVA) is added to the Scottish economy every year through successful business and academic partnerships brokered by Interface, and the awards aim to recognise and celebrate the economic, social and innovative impacts arising from these partnerships.

Dr. Siobhán Jordan, director of Interface, said: "These awarded entries are outstanding examples of knowledge exchange in practice across Scotland, which we hope will act to encourage other businesses to tap into the wealth of benefits that partnering with Scotland's world-leading academic and research institutions can bring."

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Apprenticeships need a higher status, MP urges

The status of apprenticeships needs to be upgraded so they can be presented as a first class career opportunity, a senior MP has urged.

Gordon Birtwistle, Lib Dem MP for Burnley and chairman of the All Parliamentary Apprenticeship Group (APPAG) said schools should wake p to the opportunities that apprenticeships offer and be aware that universities do not always offer the best option for young people.

"I believe that careers advice in schools is crucial. Young people need to be told about, and shown, what is available these days outside the school gates. It is wrong for schools to advise young people to go to university just to ensure that their figures for pupils attending university go up," he said.

A group of 13 young apprentices were last month invited to the House of Commons to meet members of the APPAG, accompanied by the APPAG's sponsors, the EAL, the awarding body for the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors and the IMI Awards (the IMI awarding body). Together, they form the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC), which aims to ensure the views of industry apprentices are heard by Parliament and other opinion formers.

Three guests had been invited to talk to the APPAG: Sue Price, National Apprenticeship Service; David Pollard, small business owner and Federation of Small Businesses (and who had also been involved in the recent reviews of apprenticeships led by Jason Holt and Doug Richard); and Chris Roberts, managing director of motor dealerships in Lincolnshire and chairman of IMI Awards.

During the meeting, the issues that raised most concern from both apprentices and MPs were the lower perceived status of the apprenticeship route when compared with university and how little information and attention was given to preparing young people for work generally.

In a Parliamentary debate on the economy, Mr Birtwistle described how he had spoken to a number of young people who had been through the apprenticeship system whose university educated peers were still looking for employment.

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Learning professionals on the lookout for new roles, survey claims

This year will see a staggering amount of learning professionals look for a new job, a new survey has claimed.

Research from learning recruitment specialist Blue Eskimo has shown that an astonishing 62.38 per cent of learning professionals want to change jobs in the next 12 months, up from 58.85 per cent last year.

Nick Bate, director at Blue Eskimo, says part of this change could be down to a lack of pay rises in certain sectors.

"As you'd expect, quite a few people - around a quarter - are after more money. Almost 60 per cent of people didn't get a rise this year, and many of those didn't get a rise last year, either."

It's not all about money, though - 24.92 per cent want a more interesting role, 16.29 per cent want better career prospects and 12.38 per cent want a better work-life balance.

"People are still broadly happy in this industry - 66.13 per cent say that they are happy and 31.43 per cent say that working in the learning industry is OK. Even those who don't want to move jobs do want to see some change - around a third want more money and better benefits and almost 20 per cent want to work for a company with a better strategy," Bate added.

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PHX Training helps Siemens develop new generation of apprentices

A group of learners at engineering and technology company Siemens have achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in a warehousing and storage apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship - gained through a course with PHX Training - is part of Siemens' aim to up-skill its workforce at the Subsea Excellence Centre in Ulverston, Cumbria.

The candidates, aged 20- to 50 are now competent in warehousing, storage and logistics operations.

The 12 month course included modules such as customer support, health and safety regulations, employment rights and responsibilities. Employees have also been undertaking functional skills training in English and Maths.

The course was delivered using varying techniques including on-site learning, workshops, one-to-one teaching, group work and observations. The course was also documented with supporting written work and exams.

Lisa Ayres, apprenticeship co-ordinator at PHX Training, said: "Employees who operate in the warehouse and logistics team sometimes get overlooked but Siemens has invested in a programme of training to ensure employees perform to the best of their ability across all areas.

"The training was delivered at Siemens' facilities in Ulverston to ensure that employees had access to learning at all times. Being flexible and meeting the needs of the business has proved successful with employees now having a wider skill set."

Colin Kendall, learning & development advisor at Siemens in Ulverston, added: "As the business expands and takes on a larger workforce, we require new skill sets and so we needed to strengthen our teams accordingly."

"The PHX apprenticeship programme is a great initiative, helping to raise standards and promote employee engagement in areas such as Stores and Despatch where training opportunities are often limited."

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Olympic ambassadors to improve customer service following training

More than a third of London's Olympic ambassadors have been motivated by the WorldHost training programme to make active changes to improve customer service in their companies, a People 1st Training Company survey has revealed.

The People 1st Training Company developed the WorldHost customer service training programme for the UK market prior to the London 2012 Olympics. Originally developed in Canada, and used to train nearly 40,000 volunteers and tourism staff for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, WorldHost was used to train London ambassadors as well as tens of thousands of staff and volunteers working at the Olympic venues.

The survey of 245 London ambassadors showed that WorldHost has made a key contribution to creating a legacy of improved customer service in the UK. The survey also showed the positive impact the WorldHost programme has had on ambassadors' attitudes to customer service training. More than half of those who were employed at the time said that the training had changed their attitude to training and qualifications. Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of employed ambassadors also said they would now consider a career in the hospitality sector.

Sharon Glancy, managing director of the People 1st Training Company, said: "We are pleased that so many volunteers were motivated by the WorldHost training and implemented the lessons that they learnt at their places of work. It is crucial to continue the Olympic legacy of customer service and encourage people and businesses to create an outstanding customer experience."

The survey also found that gaining the qualification motivated many ambassadors to improve their performance at work with 60 per cent of volunteers who were employed at the time of training said that they gained confidence at work since being a London ambassador, while 36 per cent of employed volunteers applied for a new job or promotion.

One ambassador added: "Having had my role at work changed, I had been suffering from depression as I was no longer working with people. The training was excellent and helped me to regain my confidence in communicating with people."

A significant number of unemployed people were inspired by the WorldHost training to consider a job or career in hospitality. More than half (58 per cent) of unemployed people would consider a career in this industry after the training. The survey also found that 54 per cent of unemployed people were inspired to apply for a job after the training.

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Women given support to climb management ladder

An innovative programme to help female production workers climb the management ladder has been launched by insulation manufacturer Rockwool.

Staff at the Pencoed-based company have benefitted by signing up to an initiative called Agile Nation Ascent. The project, run by the women's economic development body, Chwarae Teg, aims to boost women's confidence, unlock their management talents and provide them with a recognised qualification.

Rockwool called in Chwarae Teg to help them ensure more women in the business achieved their full career potential. Since the initiative started, ten women from Rockwool have earned accredited Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualifications to help them progress. A further two have been promoted.

Ascent is part of Chwarae Teg's £12.5m European Social Fund and Welsh Government-funded Agile Nation project that is supporting the progression of women in the workplace.

Bob Perry, production director at Rockwool, said: "Rockwool has a good history of tangible success with regards to breaking down barriers, for example the Bridgend factory had Rockwool group's first female factory manager in 1992.

"We've always had women in the offices or labs, but in 2007 we wanted to attract women into manufacturing, which is often seen as a man's environment, so we had a drive to recruit local women. Thank you to Chwarae Teg for their support and for providing the training opportunities for our female workforce."

Hayley Dunne, Agile Nation project manager, added: "When we set up Agile Nation our aim was to have a real impact on real lives and the achievements of these women is this aim realised. I thank the managers at Rockwool for identifying individuals whom they believed had great potential. Congratulations to all the women who have undertaken the Ascent programme and for proving your managers right."

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Staff commit to union-backed workplace learning

Health sector trade unions opened up learning opportunities for East Midlands ambulance staff when they signed a learning agreement last week.

The East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) became the first ambulance Trust to commit to developing its staff through union-backed workplace learning when chief executive Phil Milligan put his name to the agreement, alongside representatives from UNISON, GMB and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Under the terms of the scheme, ambulance service staff from the lowest to the highest grades will be able to develop themselves at work and entitled to apply for reasonable time off to pursue their studies.

Speaking about the agreement, EMAS chief executive, Phil Milligan, said: "What is absolutely tremendous about this agreement is that we' re making sure we address all of the staff's needs together through a partnership approach.

"The key thing now is making sure we use our resources in line with the  agreement, which is very much about development across the board. That means spotting the needs of individuals and groups and making sure resources are used wisely to support their needs, and not just those few who go for higher education or specialised clinical education."

UNISON branch secretary Paul Brown said: "The biggest breakthrough is the Trust agreeing reasonable time off, which gives staff the incentive to put in some time of their own to learn, and UNISON is providing laptops they can take away and use at home.

"At the end of the day, we're an emergency service, which means there will be times when the Trust won't be able to grant people time off to learn when they apply. But UNISON, GMB and RCN will plan the courses to avoid busier times like the summer holidays when we tend to be short-staffed."

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Businesses are stifling creativity, former MP claims

Creativity and innovation goes begging in business sometimes because those poised to make the breakthrough are regarded as rebels or mavericks.

That was the view of former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik who believes that these 'rebels' can act as a challenge to the old form of thinking rather than being a destructive threat.

Opik, former training and development manager for moving consumer goods firm Proctor & Gamble, has teamed up with HR company Leadenhall Consulting to help businesses understand the differences between a troublemaker and a pathfinder.

"There are huge opportunities for business creativity and innovation which go begging because those best placed to make breakthrough progress are sometimes regarded as 'rebels' or 'mavericks', he told TJ.

"Such individuals tend to have a hard time in established institutions because they frighten the horses.  However, they also see things that others don't.  Mavericks can be the bridge from the past to the future, because they dare to wade across rivers of conventional thought.  

"Our new course, Rebel with a Cause, is dedicated to helping institutional environments understand the difference between a troublemaker and a pathfinder.  We hope that, by providing objective tools to manage such people effectively, energy which causes internal friction will instead create step change improvements in how things get done.

He added: "In this context, 'rebellion' against the norms is really just a challenge to old thinking and can be a positive force instead of a destructive threat.  That's representative of the kind of approach I' m working on at Leadenhall Consulting.  And what works for the financial services industry will very probably work in other sectors too."

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Industry failing to actively manage talent, study finds

Worrying statistics released today has revealed that 72 per cent of organisations are operating without an active strategy in place.

This is the headline finding in a global survey of senior executives in the Life Sciences industry, carried out for Interim Management firm RSA.

A disturbing trend has emerged over the last three years which has seen talent management take a back seat, the research revealed. While 90 per cent of Life Science executives identify talent management as a key priority, almost three quarters are failing to deliver this in practice. Much of this has been put down to the continuing impact of change and sluggish economic conditions.

Respondents found leadership development the most challenging part of talent management, with 17 per cent listing it as their top concern. Companies are also becoming more demanding - 70 per cent say they require a greater range of skills now than a year ago. Furthermore, managers are looking outside the organisation for help and more than three quarters (77 per cent) used external talent management firms/consultants in 2012, with the top reason being a lack of in-house skills (55 per cent).

On a brighter note, understanding between business and the learning department is improving. While only 59 per cent of executives believe that L&D has a clear understanding of the skills the organisation will need in five years' time, this has nearly doubled from just 24 per cent in 2010. In addition, almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) felt that &D would have a key role to play in redefining long-term resourcing needs, nine per cent more than in 2011.

Speaking about the findings, Nick Stephens, executive chairman of RSA, said: "In today's highly competitive Life Sciences industry, a critical success factor for executives is to fully understand the talent they have within their business and how they organise and supplement it for the future.

"Our research shows that in the Life Sciences industry, the active management of high potential individuals and leadership development remain high priorities. However the continuing pressures of the recession and major market change are forcing businesses and their HR departments to focus on short-term fixes, rather than long-term strategy."

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Hemsley Fraser trains staff at Toyota Financial Services

Learning specialist Hemsley Fraser has helped staff at Toyota Financial Services progress with a two-day communication skills workshop.

The workshop, called One Voice, One Word, Hemsley Fraser trained TFS's customer care team - which handles 9,000 incoming calls and 1,700 letters and emails from customers each month - as well as advisers from the new business team, the collections team, the customer sales team and the sales support team.

As a result of the training, staff are now able to convey clear messages with a positive attitude when dealing with customers.

Karen Harris, training & development specialist at Toyota Financial Services, said: "Although we have an excellent reputation for customer service, Toyota Financial Services follows the philosophy of Kaizen, which involves delivering innovation and continuous improvement. We wanted an innovative, motivational course to ensure our teams use consistent language and tone in their telephone calls and written correspondence with customers."

Hemsley Fraser was appointed after a competitive tender. "They're an approved supplier for soft skills and we've used them previously for management, communication and customer service programmes," Harris added.

"They impressed us by creating an engaging and interactive workshop that met our need and brought our values to life. Their trainer spent time with our different teams beforehand, to understand the nature of the customer interactions they encountered and how these were handled."

Hemsley Fraser delivered the facilitated workshop for three separate cohorts at Toyota's training rooms in Burgh Heath, Surrey. The One Voice telephone skills aspect covered planning the call, projecting a positive image, establishing rapport, active listening, information gathering, questioning, building relationships and closing the call. It also covered managing difficult conversations, handling complaints and data protection issues. The One Word written communication aspect covered planning the message, using appropriate language, conveying the right image, gaining interest and creating a compelling ending.

The learning specialist then provided follow-up coaching for TFS's supervisors, to help them cement the learning in their teams and ensure that the new language and tone were adopted in all customer interactions.

"This workshop has helped us to be clearer and more consistent in our customer communications. That's all part of providing a superior service and that's what we need to do if we're to continually attract and retain customers," Harris concluded.

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Professional body launched to support facilitation profession

A professional body dedicated to the training, accreditation, support and supervision of new and experienced facilitators has been launched.

The Association of Facilitators (AoF) will benefit everyone who works as a facilitator and leads a group or team, from managers and leaders working in the private, public, charity and education sectors, to change agents and organisational consultants.

The organisation offers a clear path for professional development based upon progression through three levels of accreditation.  Each level is supported by supervision, practical online resources and training programmes. The training ranges from short courses, to a one year part-time certificate in facilitation, through to a two year part-time diploma in group facilitation skills.

In line with industry best practice, learning is highly experiential, and assessment takes place through well-structured self and peer assessment activities. Both accreditation and training are underpinned by the AoF's competency model, FACETS© which the founders have developed after delivering and supervising facilitation training for over a decade.

Facilitation expert, Professor Paul Barber, a member of the Association's Board of Reference, said: "FACETS© is a highly valuable and practical contribution, not only to individuals seeking to develop their facilitation skills, but also to the advancement of the facilitation profession as a whole."

Bella Mehta, director, Association of Facilitators, added: "After being thoroughly immersed in the facilitation training and consulting world we recognised an increasing demand for facilitation skills programmes and professional accreditation that reflects today's business, community, education and political structures, while still being strongly grounded in best practice and humanistic principles.  Individual facilitators want more practical support so we've set up the Association of Facilitators to act as a 'professional home' for facilitators in the UK."

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Businesses urged to educate staff on security procedures

Businesses are being urged to upskill and educate staff in cyber security procedures after research has revealed the cyber security risks posed to businesses.

This is after an online survey of more than 1,000 workers commissioned by training company QA and run by  YouGov revealed that nearly one in five (18 per cent) workers surveyed online do not have passwords or pins on all of their work devices. For those that said they did use passwords or pins 21 per cent said they had written them down so they didn't forget them and 23 per cent had also shared their password with another person (such as a family member or friend, another colleague or their manager).

In light of recent government announcements concerning cyber security policy and funding, the QA survey looked to 'take the pulse' of the existing security practices of online workers to determine the risks which UK businesses face.

Bill Walker, technical director at QA said that when it comes to online security, we are our own worst enemies.

"Despite having secure password protocol drilled into us - it must be over 10 characters, have upper case and lower case letters, contain numbers or special characters and be the most secure line of code possible - 21 per cent of respondents said they had written it down and 23 per cent said they had shared it with another person (such as a family member or friend, another colleague or their manager)," he said. 

"This could provide an easy opportunity for anyone looking to gain access to the corporate network. In many cases, the hacker would simply need to ask to be told the password (perhaps posing as a member of the IT support team) or for the 21 per cent who have written it down, hacking into a corporate system could potentially be as easy as walking past someone's desk and reading the password off of a post-it note!"

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Jaguar to develop future talent for the business

An initiative has been launched by Jaguar Land Rover to recruit more than 150 apprentices to its 2013 training programme.

The scheme is open to students with A-level qualifications that have to include maths, science and a technology subject. Students on the apprenticeship will be put on a thorough training programme to achieve a number of NVQ level qualifications in addition to an undergraduate engineering degree.

Higher Apprenticeships will take approximately six years to complete, as a combination of time spent at university and time in the workplace.

Advanced Apprenticeships are open to all GCSE qualified candidates. They will study for a NVQ2 in Performing Engineering Operations, a NVQ3 in a chosen trade, a Technical Certificate and training in key skills such as Communication, IT & Numeracy. The Advanced Apprenticeship will take between three and four years to complete through a combination of time spent in the workplace and college.

Apprentices will then go on to fulfil roles in a variety of manufacturing and product development functions at Jaguar Land Rover's sites in the West Midlands and the North West. This includes Jaguar Land Rover's £355 million new advanced engine manufacturing facility currently under construction in South Staffordshire.

Kirsty Scott, head of organisation performance, said: "We have recruited more than 300 apprentices in the last two years and are pleased to be recruiting another significant intake of new apprentices in 2013.

"We have ambitious plans for growth and Jaguar Land Rover is committed to providing the highest quality of both practical and academic training to develop future talent for the business."

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Decorator named apprentice of the year

Young painter and decorator Jordan Dolan has been named by maintenance specialist Seddon Property Services as the company's apprentice of the year.

The 21-year-old was chosen from many of the firm's apprentices across the UK to collect the award.

Seddon Property Services site supervisor, Andy Catterall, believes that the commitment and desire Dolan showed to learn new skills meant he was fully deserving of the award.

"Jordan is hard-working and always puts 100 per cent into every job," he said.

"Now in the third year of his apprenticeship programme with the company, Jordan has built on his skills and is a credit to his local office in Preston and the company. His work on site for the company is first-class and his college reports highlight his commitment and desire to learn new skills. He fully deserves this award."

Staff at Seddon celebrated Dolan's achievement with a trophy and £200 prize which was presented at a special lunch with senior directors.

Dolan first joined the company in 2010 and as a member of the company's programme has completed his NVQ Level 1 and 2 qualifications in painting and decorating, combining his on-site work with day-release studies at Preston College. He is now working towards his advanced NVQ Level 3 certificate.

"I really enjoy what I do," he said. "I work with a great team and have had the chance to do lots of training as well as enter painting and decorating competitions. Becoming an apprentice is a fantastic way to learn a trade and develop your skills - I'd definitely recommend it.   

In the future, he hopes to work his way up the career ladder to become a construction manager. This is the second year running that he has been nominated for the Seddon Property Services Apprentice of the Year award after being named runner-up on the previous occasion.

This year's runner-up was 19-year-old apprentice carpenter and joiner Chris Southern, who lives in Northwich, Cheshire.

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M-learning to be prioritised in coming years, study finds

More than 70 per cent of companies from last year's Towards Maturity benchmark study of 500 organisations plan to implement m-learning in the next two years.

That was according to a report entitled Mobile Learning at Work, which identifies the key trends in m-learning, helping organisations understand how their peers are using this growing learning technology and how to plan effectively. The independent report has been commissioned by Towards Maturity's Ambassador, Upside Learning, a provider of mobile learning and learning management systems.

The study is designed to help both companies that are new to m-learning and those wishing to learn from organisations that are achieving substantial benefits. It highlights that businesses using mobile technologies in learning are reporting more staff and business benefits than those who are not. 

More than 30 per cent (34 per cent) of mobile users report that e-learning has contributed to improvements in organisational productivity (compared to 20 per cent of non-mobile users), a quarter report it has made a significant contribution to increasing organisational revenue (compared to 20 per cent of non-mobile users) and 29 per cent of mobile users agree that learners put what they learn into practice quickly (compared to 24% of non-mobile users).

Laura Overton, managing director of Towards Maturity, said: "Even though some large organisations have started using mobile technology to empower their workforce, for most the question still remains - how do we actually use it in the workplace?

"Training departments are unsure how to design, develop and implement a successful m-learning strategy that works for their organisations. This report gives practical ideas to help address the perceived challenges faced, build confidence in the results and support the implementation of m-learning in the workplace. I encourage L&D professionals to download the report and use the checklists to review their m-learning approach."

The report reveals the industry sectors with the highest use of mobile devices are: Consultancy (80 per cent); Commercial training providers (60 per cent); Further and higher education (55 per cent) and IT and telecoms (55 per cent). Private sector organisations are more likely to be using m-learning than those in the public or not-for-profit sectors.

Amit Garg, director of custom learning solutions at Upside Learning, said: "Mobile learning is now on the agenda of many organisations, but there is a lack of independent research and evidence in the market to help organisations plan and execute their strategies appropriately.

"The Towards Maturity In-Focus report offers deep insights into learning scenarios, debunking some of the myths hampering the adoption of this technology and helping organisations adopt m-learning in a way that delivers results."

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Redsky commit to further expansion and growth in 2013

Learning and development specialist Redsky Learning has announced a commitment to double its annual turnover and expand internationally during 2013.

Following growth in 2012, Redsky Learning has begun the year with a trio of new appointments to deliver bespoke training programmes for Hitachi, Tesco and the Co-op, as well as additional work with existing clients including Kurt Geiger, Wordplay, Dune and M&G Investments.

The organisation specialises in the development of leaders at all levels with experience in retail, construction, finance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, public sector and leisure. With a fresh approach to learning, Redsky works in partnership with clients to prepare a bespoke tailored training programme that addresses their needs and challenges.

The company will now build on its multi-sector experience across retail, construction, public sector and manufacturing in the UK by committing to double its annual turnover through innovative networking and marketing, including a re-brand, new website and events programme, as well as generating new international opportunities with new and existing clients. The company has also committed to creating new jobs during 2013 as part of its expansion.

Diane Coolican, managing director at Redsky Learning, said: "This year presents a key opportunity for Redsky Learning to expand its client base and make a presence on an international level.

"We are committed to growing our team and driving new opportunities with ambitious plans to double our turnover and broaden our already growing international remit. Although Redsky is only eight years old, we have already grown the business to work across multi-sector blue chip clients. We believe our bespoke programmes that address individual company dynamics and values, coupled with our ability to deliver results that impact on the bottom line and give significant return on investment, is a unique offering for clients."

He added: "Moving into 2013 we are committed to continuing to develop our thriving retail customer base, while working with key contacts in the construction sector to help the industry get back on its feet."

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Traineeship instigated to prepare the young for work

Plans for a new traineeship programme to equip young people with the skills they need for employment were outlined today by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.

It is believed the initiative which could be in place by September this year will give those aged 16- to 24 the confidence, experience and skills necessary to compete in the labour market with their elders.

Training providers and employers have been invited to comment on the Government's proposals to help develop the new programme. The initiative is part of the Government's wider aim to ensure the future workforce possesses the skills that employers want in their apprentices and employees.

Speaking at today's launch, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, said: "We want to support everyone in our country to reach their personal best. To do that, we are introducing Traineeships to help young people with the skills they need to get a job, and hold down a job.

"That's vital for our economy to compete in the global race. And it's a question of fairness.

"Traineeships will give young people the helping hand and experience they need to compete for Apprenticeships and good jobs."

Employers voiced their discontent at the poor self-management skills of school leavers, according to last year's CBI annual education and skills survey. Furthermore, employers were not satisfied with the literacy and numeracy skills of the same group. It is thought that this project will help young people who are motivated, but fall short of employers' expectation due to a lack of experience and skill.

Welcoming the news, Neil Carberry, CBI director of employment and skills, said: "The jobs market is already challenging for young people, particularly for those lacking the basic skills, experience and attitude businesses look for. The CBI has long called for stronger pre-apprenticeship programmes, like traineeships, so young people are ready for their first job. It is vital that employers are at the heart of designing and developing them to meet the demands of the workplace."

Graham Hoyle OBE, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, added: "The development of traineeships represents a hugely significant step forward in ensuring young people currently without a job or training opportunity are better equipped to find either an Apprenticeship or other type of worthwhile employment.

"The Government is also wise to consult widely and openly with providers and others to find the design most likely to be successful.  They suggest that flexibility and personalisation are likely to be the keys to success. They are correct."

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Employee engagement can and should be used to drive growth, say CIPD

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Hay Group Insight are calling on employers to review their engagement strategies in order to drive performance and business growth.

There is now compelling evidence that organisations with high employee engagement have greater organisational productivity and performance. With countless studies illustrating the competitive-edge to be achieved through an engaged workforce, the engagement debate is shifting from why it matters to what can be done about it.

This theme will be reinforced at the CIPD Employee Engagement Conference 2013, in partnership with Hay Group Insight at the end of the month.The conference will explore the key pillars of sustainable engagement and ways in which leaders need to adapt to drive their engagement agenda forward in a changing business environment.

The conference will also explore the latest engagement research and techniques progressive companies are using to measure, build and sustain engagement. The full-day workshop, The True Impact of Engagement: getting the process right to drive business performance, facilitated by Hay Group experts, will provide actionable insight into the following topics:

• How to design an employee engagement survey that aligns with business objectives and core values

• The power of combing enablement and engagement

• How to attract, develop and retain the best talent with progressive employee life cycle tools

• Building engagement skills in line managers

Ben Hubbard, director Europe, Hay Group Insight, who will be chairing the Conference, said: "Our research confirms that high performing companies are using their engagement and enablement strategies to gain a competitive edge over their peers.

"The result today is an employee engagement gap of over 10 points between top and average performing companies. For the winners this creates a virtuous cycle of performance as they secure and retain the best talent - for the losers a major risk to their sustained performance. With engagement and enablement levels in the UK now lagging many of our major economic competitors now is the time for leaders to place employee engagement at the top of the agenda."

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Personal development tops New Year’s resolutions list, survey finds

The most popular New Year's resolutions for L&D practitioners this year are to develop their personal skills and to offer more e-learning.

That was the key finding in research from video-based learning content providers Video Arts, who surveyed 120 L&D practitioners about the New Year's resolutions they had made for their organisations.

The research revealed that 48 per cent would like to offer more e-learning courses; 45 per cent would like to use more technology for training and 40 per cent would like to train more people.  Nearly 30 per cent said they wanted to better manage their return on investment from training; 20 per cent want to try out mobile learning; 13 per cent would like to find more budget; 13 per cent want to undertake more classroom training and 10 per cent would like to introduce a new learning management system. Others plan to increase on-the-job training, create bespoke learning solutions and improve the way they measure behavioural change.

The survey also asked the L&D professionals about their personal new year's resolutions. Nearly two-thirds said they want to develop their own skills in 2013; 38 per cent intend to be more organised; 29 per cent would like to manage their stress better; 18 per cent would like to feel more motivated and 15 per cent said they'd like to find another job.

Martin Addison, CEO of Video Arts, said: "2013 promises to be a busy year for L&D, as the common theme from our survey is that practitioners are keen to do more.

"The findings also give a sense of the difficulty of the L&D role. Some practitioners clearly feel under pressure to perform, as managing their own stress, motivating themselves and even finding another job all feature strongly as resolutions. The fact that three out of five trainers want to enhance their own skills could either reflect an admirable passion for continuous improvement or it may mean that, with the pace of change in L&D, some trainers feel underdeveloped or even ill-equipped in their current role."

The growing conviction that e-learning can help organisations to provide cost effective training, shown in the organisational resolutions, was also evident in a wider industry survey conducted by Video Arts in October 2012. This showed that 79 per cent of organisations have implemented e-learning and that 51 per cent of them use it to provide soft skills development.

"There was a time when e-learning was almost the poor relation in the learning mix, with many L&D practitioners claiming that it held little appeal. That's definitely changed now. With the availability of media-rich courses and better IT support, e-learning has established itself as L&D's tool of choice and it's really starting to show its value," Addison concluded. 

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

RWE npower launch training initiative to improve numeracy skills

Energy business RWE npower has launched a pioneering training scheme to help jobseekers improve their numeracy skills and find work at npower's customer contact centres.

As well as offering high standards of customer service, npower's customer advisors must be competent with numbers to effectively deal with meter reads, customer bills and customer account queries. Applicants for roles at npower's customer contact centres - which employ approximately 5000 people in the North East alone - often fail to secure roles purely on their numerical ability, despite excelling in all other areas.

Recognising this, npower has launched an initiative to offer any recent applicants to npower's Customer Service Advisor roles who have been unsuccessful due to their maths ability the chance to enroll in a series of numeracy awareness courses. After completing the courses, they can immediately re-sit the numerical exercise and, if successful, they will be offered a role.

Launched in Sunderland, where npower's contact centres are one of the city's largest employers, the initiative is being carried out in partnership with Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland. Training is provided by the University at npower's contact centre in Houghton-le-Spring, with support provided by the business investment team at the council.

If successful, npower will endeavour to forge similar partnerships with other councils, with the aim of helping more people to build their confidence and find gainful employment whilst bolstering the energy firm' s workforce in this important customer-focused area.

Gillian Tarelli, resource and talent manager at npower, said: "At npower we are passionate about helping people to reach their full potential, and so are delighted to be working with our partners in Sunderland on this project.

"We hope that this pioneering partnership can become the blueprint for similar training schemes across all of our sites in the North East, harnessing the expertise of local authorities and educational organisations along with that of our teams at npower to improve employment prospects for people around the country."

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