Dragon Naturally Speaking e-Learning - Training

Monday, March 25, 2013

E-learning design can be simple, says instructional designer

Designing e-learning is not something that has to be complicated, according to Tom Kuhlmann, e-learning guru and author of the Rapid eLearning blog.

The instructional designer will be providing tips and essentials at the annual Tom Kuhlmann Masterclass held on 14th & 15th May in an event hosted by The Charity Learning Consortium.

Day one of the masterclass will focus on rapid eLearning essentials, while day two will be all about visual design & interactive learning.

Speaking about the event, Kuhlmann said: "eLearning design can sound more complicated than it really is - I'm here to demonstrate how easy it can be to create great resources."

Martin Baker, CEO and founder of The Charity Learning Consortium, added: "Last year we were overwhelmed by the response. It was a really memorable workshop, with a great buzz in the room. Delegates went away with practical skills to inspire their eLearning, but they also really enjoyed meeting Tom - their eLearning 'hero'!

"The great mix of delegates in the room really enhances the day, with everyone contributing different ideas. This element of collaboration is at the heart of everything that we do."

For more information on the event, visit http://www.charitylearning.org/articulate-event-2013/

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Møller Centre wins “Best UK Management Training Centre” 2013

The Møller Centre received the accolade of "Best UK Management Training Centre" at the Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) awards ceremony this week at Battersea Evolution, London. 

In winning the gong, The Møller Centre retained its title as "Best UK Management Training Centre" for the third consecutive year.

The company was joined by three clients, one of which represented Taylor Vinters who have been a client of The Møller Centre for over 10 years.

Debs Kibbler, HR administrator at Taylor Vinters, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and to be there to help The Møller Centre celebrate in achieving both awards, so thoroughly deserved was the icing on the cake - keep up the good work!" 

The Møller Centre team also picked up a silver award for " Best Conference & Banqueting Staff".  Based on a business strategy of high service quality, and getting it right first time for the client, The Møller Centre delivers a service that clients trust. Gillian Secrett, CEO, The Møller Centre, said: "The M&IT awards are based on nominations from our clients and their recognition of our work has great significance to us.  Both awards are a testament to the hard work of our team, the loyalty of our clients and the support of the wider community. We have built a strong business based on quality of delivery, consistent with our mission which is to support our clients to acquire knowledge for professional development and personal and business success in an executive environment."

The Møller Centre is the only dedicated residential management training centre in Cambridge, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Churchill College, University of Cambridge. The Centre provides both a venue and executive education to clients from across the world offering a unique environment in which to learn, based in the heart of Cambridge's collegiate community.

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Admiral paves way for licensees to offer apprenticeships to staff

Chester-based business Admiral Taverns has reported strong demand from its licensees for an apprenticeship programme it has created in concert with Charnwood Training Group.

The community pub group has joined forces with national firm Charnwood Training to enable its licensees to offer the BIIAB Level 2 and Level 3 Apprenticeships in Licensed Hospitality.

More than 60 of Admiral's licensees have already set the ball rolling by identifying suitable candidates for the programme, with many more expected to follow suit in the coming weeks and months. The adoption of the BII apprenticeship and partnership with Charnwood means licensees will be able to offer their staff recognised professional qualifications designed specifically for pubs and delivered by industry specialists.

Suzanne Smith, head of licensee recruitment and training at Admiral Taverns, said: "It's still early days for Admiral apprenticeships and rather than adopting a scatter-gun approach, we have targeted our most appropriate licensees - those with larger teams and with businesses that would benefit most from the apprenticeship scheme.  Nevertheless, we're delighted to have received such strong interest from our licensees and expect this momentum to build further as word spreads across the business.

"Our priority is to implement training that provides tangible outcomes and aids business performance. There is much evidence to prove that apprenticeships deliver the results we're looking for and we felt Charnwood's approach was a perfect fit for our business. The next step is to progress the individuals our licensees have put forward to the starting line of a level two or level three apprenticeships."   

The programme will see trainers from Charnwood visit candidates at Admiral pubs regularly, with the lion's share of the apprenticeship delivered in-pub. Most learning needs will be met 'on-the-job' or online via interactive learning sessions, with full mentoring and support provided by the individual learner's local Charnwood training officer.

Gerwyn House, managing director at Charnwood Training Group, said: "We're delighted to have this opportunity to partner with Admiral Taverns and its licensees and we're looking forward to working together to develop and nurture the very best young talent in the team.

"This announcement is a timely boost for industry apprenticeships as more and more employers begin to sit up and take notice of the unrivalled value an apprentice can provide."

In addition to apprenticeship training being fully funded, Admiral licensees who employ an apprentice are also entitled to a £1,500 incentive payment from the government after 13 weeks of an apprentice starting a programme.

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Whitepaper to help organisations understand talent management trends

Corporate language training provider Speexx has released a whitepaper to help organisations understand global talent management trends.

Entitled 'Setting the Agenda for Global Talent Management', it addresses cloud-based learning systems, the power of mobile and the importance of cross-border communication. One key finding reveals that 88 per cent of HR and L&D managers consider foreign language and communication skills to be pivotal for business success. The whitepaper helps professionals understand the changing industry landscape and benchmark themselves against their worldwide peers.

The Speexx whitepaper examines elements such as why empowering communication matters, the impact of mobile learning and cloud-based technology and assessing the benefits of workforce learning against the constraints of tightening budgets. The report includes valuable insights from 230 organisations across five continents and over a dozen different industries, representing more than 1.6 million employees.

According to the Speexx Exchange 2013 Survey, language learning technology is indicative of a global shift towards improved cross-border communication, with 47 percent of organisations e-enabling language training and 88 percent deeming communication skills vital for business success.

Among the most reported benefits of e-learning were standardisation, flexibility and a better way of monitoring results. Despite these inherent gains, however, around half of the organisations claimed to be investing less than 10 percent of their training budget in e-enabled learning solutions. The untapped potential of mobile is also echoed in the survey, with 63 percent of organisations allowing mobile devices in the workplace, but less than a third of these actually using them for learning purposes.

In addition to showcasing the current attitudes and tendencies, the whitepaper offers managers some useful strategies for closing the gap between the opportunities offered by e-learning and cloud-based talent management systems and their actual usage.

Armin Hopp, Founder and President of Speexx, said: "To create a successful talent management strategy with a high return on investment, organisations will need to gain a better understanding of the current market developments surrounding them.

"The ability to adapt, evolve and maximise on opportunities will ensure that global businesses gain a competitive edge and create a stronger and more cohesive internal talent management pool."

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Council creates internal customer service training scheme

Rushcliffe Borough Council has created a training programme on internal customer service aimed at building productive working relationships.

The initiative is built around a training video by Video Arts called Inside Information which shows the adverse effect on customers when different departments work independently, in a silo mentality. It explains how to build productive working relationships with people from different departments and stresses the need for staff to treat their internal colleagues with the same level of respect and courtesy as they would treat an external customer.

"We're a top-performing council that aims to deliver excellent service but sometimes when people are stretched and under pressure, communication can fall down between service areas and departments," said Dan Swaine, operations manager at Rushcliffe BC.

"We wanted to help our staff understand that if our internal customer care falls down, so will our external customer care. We chose Inside Information because it highlights the need to operate as one team. The intelligent use of humour prompts discussion and the very strong learning messages will be remembered long after the training course has finished."

The Inside Information video was initially shown to the council's management team, as part of a training session on the importance of internal customer service.

"We looked at their role as managers in ensuring that each department pulls together for the greater good," Swaine added.

"The video struck a chord with them. It helps people to see the bigger picture that how we treat each other has a knock-on impact on the quality of service that we're able to provide for our customers."

A half-day training programme on internal customer service, featuring the Inside Information content, is now being rolled out by the council for all 360 members of staff. Cohorts of up to 12 delegates, from different service areas, will attend each session. Managers will nominate people from their teams who they think will benefit from the programme and individuals can also make a request to attend.

"Because we're using a video resource that is split into bite-sized clips, we have the flexibility to show specific scenarios and to hone in on particular learning points.

"With service area reviews and changes being undertaken, the 'one team' message is something we're keen to emphasise. If we can achieve excellence in internal customer service then our external service will continue to be strong."

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Deputy PM launches campaign to promote apprenticeships

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a new drive this week to showcase the creative talents of apprentices.

The initiative, Made by apprentices, was hosted by the Clegg at the Admiralty House reception and will go on to recognise the contribution of apprentices across the country by asking them to put their name to their handiwork.

The wider campaign will see employers across the country join together to highlight the productivity of apprentices and encourage more businesses to offer apprenticeships.

Initially focused on regional events and national social media activity, the campaign will continue with colleges and employers encouraged to stage local events to celebrate the products and services made by apprentices throughout the year. The campaign will culminate in activity during the summer to promote apprenticeships to employers and as an exciting career route to school leavers.

Among the employers taking part in the nationwide campaign are apprentices from BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Berthon Boat Company in Dorset, fashion brand Dr Martens in Northamptonshire, Monarch Airlines in Luton and the V&A Museum in London. Apprentices at each have made a small piece of history by signing their names on a submarine, a refurbished yacht, iconic DM boots, an aeroplane and a theatre exhibition.

Clegg said: "Apprentices not only make an invaluable contribution to their employer, but to the economy as a whole.

"We've seen a record number of businesses clamouring to take on apprentices and that's because they know what a huge difference the talent and ambition they bring can make. We're also making it simple and rewarding for companies to take on apprentices - from mechanics to the hospitality trade.

"Apprenticeships should be seen as just as valuable as academic qualifications and give hard-working young people the chance to aim high for their dream job."

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Bad weather at the heart of business anarchy, study finds

Bad weather is the top cause of disruption to UK businesses over the last year, with 77 per cent of organisations affected by this winter's snow.

That's according to research released today by the Chartered Management Institute, which shows that managers are estimating the average cost to their organisation to be in excess of £52,000, and some going as high as more than £1 million, according to the report published in association with the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and the Cabinet Office.

'Weathering the storm' explores how prepared businesses are for disruption and the steps being taken to mitigate those risks. It shows that extreme weather is increasingly hampering organisations: a decade ago, it interfered with just 15 per cent of businesses over a year, rising to 29 per cent five years ago and 49 per cent last year.

Yet, worryingly, many businesses still underestimate the risk that extreme weather - including snow - can pose. Despite being the top cause of business disruption for three years running, the weather barely makes the top 10 when managers are asked to predict which threats are most likely to disrupt them in the future. However, it's clear that business continuity arrangements help reduce snow disruption; 90 per cent of organisations with plans were ready for this year's snowfall, compared to two thirds (68 per cent) of those without.

Speaking about the findings, Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: "Snow in the UK is hardly unusual - yet too many businesses are allowing it to hit them hard. The results are clear - your business will cope better and recover faster if you plan ahead. Managers that don't are left counting the cost in lost business, damage to customer trust and reputation. 

"It's great that more businesses are using business continuity management, but too many are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. A key part of any manager's job is making sure that the business keeps running, come what may - and that means planning proactively. With the recent snow alone costing organisations an average of over £52,000, those that do prepare have a competitive advantage and a real edge when it comes to building their customers' trust."

The research identified the biggest business impacts of disruption as reduced revenue, damage to reputation and lost new business opportunities. It suggests organisations are increasingly turning to business continuity management to insure themselves against these risks - 63 per cent now have arrangements in place, up from 61 per cent last year and 58 per cent in 2011.

The report makes a clear business case for business continuity management as a cost-effective way to minimise disruption:

• 86 per cent of managers believe planning improves business resilience

• 74 per cent agree it protects reputation

• 87 per cent of those activating their business continuity arrangements said it effectively reduced disruption

• 81 per cent say any cost of developing plans is justified by the benefits it brings

Lyndon Bird FBCI, technical director of the Business Continuity Institute, said: "The research findings confirm that extreme weather has become more consequential for businesses over the past decade, while disruption through cyber-attack still barely registers as an issue among general managers over the past three years. 

"One specific area where improvement can be made is on raising awareness - still more than 50 per cent of managers are not fully familiar with their organisation's business continuity arrangements.  We hope managers will take the opportunity of Business Continuity Awareness Week to learn more about their role in helping their organisation become more resilient."

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CMI calls for better help for hard-pressed parents at work

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has called for more to be done to help families tackle the demands of work and home life.

In response to Chancellor George Osborne's Budget speech yesterday, Petra Wilton, director of strategy and external affairs at CMI, believes that more needs to be done to help hard-pressed parents in the workplace.

"The cost of childcare is a major barrier preventing women from returning to work and must be tackled to help families balance the demands of work with home life. Yet, while childcare costs are rising at an estimated five per cent a year, parents will have to wait more than two years for the promised new voucher scheme," she said.

" That's not only a problem for hard-pressed parents but for employers, as many still face skills shortages when recruiting for key jobs - this won't be helped if parents feel forced to take significant time out of the workplace during those two years.

"As our recent Women in Leadership White Paper highlighted, this is a particular problem for women, who can struggle to get their careers back on track if they lose touch with the workplace after having children. The two-year wait only means that more women will face this problem.

"The government's announcement on vouchers is a step in the right direction but it's disappointing that we haven't seen quicker progress.

Wilton welcomed other policies aimed at promoting business growth.

"Many managers will welcome the further reduction in corporation tax and the help on petrol costs, while the creation of a Single Growth Fund to implement Lord Heseltine's recommendations is also welcome.

"CMI is working closely with the Association of Business Schools to look at how business schools can best help improve local business's management and leadership capacity - an important driver of growth for the future."

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Wellbeing programme a “long-term strategic must”, study finds

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and specialist healthcare provider Simplyhealth have teamed up to help managers understand the importance of investing in the wellbeing for their employees.

The 'Good health is good business' study released today details initiatives employers can easily adopt to minimise the negative effects today's working environments can have on employee wellbeing. It also spells out how the business benefits of implementing a well thought out wellbeing strategy, including reduced staff turnover, less sickness absence and improved productivity and morale, far outweigh any investment involved. 

Patrick Woodman, head of external affairs at CMI, said: "The UK's prolonged economic downturn has put organisational performance and individual wellbeing under much strain.

"Some businesses are struggling to survive and may be concerned that implementing a health and wellbeing strategy will incur increased costs at a time when cost cutting is the order of the day. But there are hardnosed reasons for supporting employees. Initiatives to promote better health and wellbeing are more an investment than a cost. They have the potential to generate substantial returns.

"Investment in employee benefits needs to happen at the same time as cultural change, especially when it comes to management style. Simply put, bad managers are bad for employee health and bad for business. Developing more open, accessible and innovative management styles as part of a health and wellbeing strategy benefits the employer and employees alike."

Howard Hughes, spokesperson for Simplyhealth, added: "On average managers are working an extra nine weeks per year. This is significant statistic but can we really say we're surprised? This white paper addresses misperceptions that a health and wellbeing programme is a costly 'nice to have' but rather a long term strategic must have that offers both financial and non financial benefits to an organisation. By investing in our people, they will invest in us and help to build strong businesses for the future."

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AELP welcomes government consultation document on Richard Review

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers have responded positively to the government's consultation document released today on the Richard Review proposal for apprenticeships.

The report, The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Next Steps from the Richard Review, comes four months after the initial independent review of apprenticeships, commissioned by Doug Richard.

AELP has responded positively to the government's acceptance of several of Doug Richard's recommendations for improving the apprenticeships programme, although it argues that some of the recommendations are already in place. 

The trade association is comfortable with the proposed final holistic test at the end of an apprenticeship, providing that the test is not too inflexible.  It says that it is difficult to imagine a single test for some sectors that will successfully cover all the competences acquired during an apprenticeship programme and therefore some flexibility will need to be built into the test's design.  Nevertheless, the association has said that it's very happy to work closely with the government and employers to try and formulate tests that work for as many sectors as possible. 

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of AELP, said: "We said in our own response to the Richard Review that many of Doug Richard's recommendations made good sense and we are equally pleased that the government has observed in its consultation that there is already good practice in existence.

"The government is right to say that apprenticeships should still be available at level two, which reflects what employer customers have been telling our members.  Also encouraging is the government's confirmation that it intends to introduce traineeships in the autumn to help more less qualified young people gain a place on an apprenticeship. 

"AELP has previously offered the government a firm set of recommendations on raising awareness of apprenticeships among school children, one of them being a robust role for Ofsted in checking that schools are following their statutory duties on careers guidance.  Much more can be done and I hope that ministers will look again at our ideas for apprenticeships to be championed in secondary schools.  They will help the government achieve the Prime Minister's stated goal as an apprenticeship being seen as 'the new normal'."

Martyn Sloman, principal consultant at TJ, described the government response as a "mixed bag" but is hopeful for the future.

"The government has accepted that apprenticeships should be redefined so that they are targeted at those new looking for a new job or role and those jobs should require sustained and substantial training. Training and accreditation of those fully competent in their jobs should be delivered separately," he said.

"Hopefully this will deal with what has become known as the problem of conversions - accrediting existing staff with existing skills and calling them apprentices.  Encouragingly, the government has also committed to introduce a new scheme of traineeships for those who are not ready to embark on apprenticeships - more details are to follow.

"However, the commitment to give employers greater ownership and allow them to more flexible in the creation of apprenticeship programmes in their organisations is questionable.   It is hard to see how this can work in practice without diluting the quality of the apprenticeships brand and causing further confusion - definitely a mixed bag in my view."

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Stress the main reason for job departures, poll reveals

Personal issues, including stress is the main reason for people wanting to change job, a CEO poll has revealed.

The research, commissioned by learning pioneers Skillsoft, found that a lack of opportunities came near the bottom of the list, with only seven per cent of respondents feeling this was cause for concern and a key reason to leave a company.

These findings suggest that, in most cases, reasons for employees leaving may go beyond just pay and progression, with undisclosed "personal issues" having more of an effect on happiness in a role than managers may realise.

Kevin Young, general manager of EMEA at Skillsoft, said: "Many managers only find out an employee is unhappy in their role and the reasons for that on the day they leave or hand in their notice. By this time it is often too late to rectify the situation and do anything to keep a valued member of staff."

"Personal reasons can include a wealth of issues that impact upon a person's ability to do their job effectively. The findings highlighted areas where companies can use training to help staff remain happy and motivated in their work. By ensuring that each employee has their own, tailored training programme and an opportunity to voice any concerns, employers can feel confident that they are giving staff every opportunity to succeed, despite other personal pressures they may be under."

Businesses are starting to recognise the value of providing staff with resources and training related to well-being, by offering help and advice on both professional and personal issues. In 2012, use of Skillsoft's Well-BeingEssentials book collection on its Skillport elearning platform found that titles about boosting self-confidence and motivation, as well as how to get more done in less time were popular reads.

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Station workers given platform to develop customer skills

Station workers at one of the UK's major train operators have been given a platform to develop their customer skills with support from adult learning organisation TBG Learning.

Southern Railway is working with TBG Learning, which is part of third sector organisation the Rehab Group, to offer its staff the chance to achieve apprenticeships in customer service, along with Skills for Life awards.

The company, which manages 156 stations across the South of England, has worked closely with TBG Learning since January 2012 to support the development of staff serving its gates, ticket offices and platforms.

Around 170 staff from Southern Railway are currently enrolled on learning programmes led by TBG Learning.

A graduation ceremony was held at Southern Railway's Croydon offices to celebrate the achievements of the first group to achieve level two and three apprenticeship certificates, along with Skills for Life awards.

Richard Evans, head of resourcing and vocational skills at Southern Railway, said the company was delighted to celebrate the achievements of its team.

"People and their learning and development are at the heart of Southern Railway," he said.

"In order to achieve our vision of making every journey better we need to ensure our people are equipped with the skills and behaviours which will allow us to deliver fantastic customer service to our passengers.

"Giving our people the opportunity to develop is a key component of our approach and not only gives our people the skills and confidence to develop at work, but also helps them to support their families and the wider communities in which they live.

"We thank our training provider, TBG Learning, for their hard work in conjunction with our teams. The success of our learning network wouldn't be possible without the commitment of everyone within the business, and each of the learners' line managers have given tremendous support and encouragement to help them achieve their potential."

Among the graduates was Station sales clerk Aleksandra Marciniak, based at Wandsworth Station.

She said: "I've just done the level two NVQ Apprenticeship in customer service and am now really looking forward to progressing on to the level 3 programme.

"The course is really beneficial and helped me to develop my skills not only for now but for the future, while also giving me added confidence when dealing with customers.

"My assessor from TBG Learning, Peter Miller, has been brilliant. He was really supportive throughout the programme and has always taken the time to help out."

Jay Bedwall, account manager at TBG Learning, congratulated Southern Railway's graduates on their achievements.

He said: "The staff enrolled on the Apprenticeships and Skills for Life programmes have worked extremely hard to achieve their goals, have made massive strides and we congratulate them all on their respective achievements.

"Southern Railway has a strong commitment to learning and development, delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to be working with the company to support the development of its teams."

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Address policies to meet growing number of older workers, say Skillsoft

There needs to be a rewiring of policies and practices to meet the growing number of older workers in the business.

That's according to Kevin Young, general manager, Skillsoft EMEA, who believes that organisations who fail to comply with this change could harm the development of their business.

The Lords Committee yesterday warned that government and society at large are unprepared for the ageing population and called for government and employers to work together to help older people remain in the workforce.

Speaking about possible consequences, Young said: "Following the latest parliamentary inquiry on the 'ageing population', the Lords Committee on public service and demographic change has called for employers and the government to work together to help older people remain in the workforce.

"While enabling the older generation to remain in the workplace for longer is a vital step in addressing the issue of an ageing population, it will only work if accompanied by a change in thinking by organisations. This includes reworking policies and practices to meet the needs of this growing number of older workers in UK businesses."

Young suggests that firms rethink their "training solutions" before a bigger skills gap begins to form.

"Our research shows that currently only eight per cent of UK companies invest in training for the over 60s, but if we are to remain in the workplace longer then this has got to change. Employees are often considered an organisation's best asset, yet many are failing to recognise the value of the older generation, whose numbers in the workforce are only going to grow.

"Organisations need to be considering and preparing for this shift now or risk damaging the future development of their business. The older generation can add so much value to a company with their experience 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."

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Research programme to evaluate customer satisfaction levels

Talent analyst firm Elearnity has announced plans to launch a new research programme which will evaluate customer satisfaction levels of learning technology solutions and services.

Corporate customers across the UK and Europe are invited to rate the learning technology solutions they are using within their organisation. The results will be published later in 2013, with the long term aim of providing a year on year view of learning technology customer satisfaction in Europe.

The research will focus on all the main areas of learning technologies including learning management systems (LMS), bespoke and generic elearning content, authoring tools, learning content management systems (LCMS), social and collaboration tools, assessment tools and mobile learning solutions.

Customer organisations are asked to rate the technology they are using in these different categories based on functionality, user experience, ease of delivery, configurability and flexibility, solution impact and total cost of ownership. They are also encouraged to leave supporting comments which will provide additional insights and qualitative input into the research.

Speaking about the initiative, David Wilson, managing director of Elearnity, said: "Learning technologies represent a significant investment for large organisations, and there is currently no independent European-focussed research into how customers actually rate their learning technology solutions.

"Our new research will provide unique insights into how learning technology solutions are really working in practice, as well as adding further data to support Elearnity's independent vendor perspectives."

He added: "The aim of this research is to help vendors continually improve their solutions and provide organisations with much need transparency about which providers have the highest customer satisfaction in Europe. Objectively understanding the reality of customer experience should be important in selecting solutions. Other business and consumer products are often reviewed and evaluated by their users - why not learning technology?"

The research is open for input by customers using learning technologies and can be accessed online now: http://delivr.com/27m9r

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Skills Minister swaps job with apprentice champion for NAW

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has swapped jobs with apprentice champion of the year, Jenny Westworth from BAE Systems.

The first leg of the swap, which has already taken place this week saw Westworth join Hancock in Westminster for ministerial meetings at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and prepare for a parliamentary debate.

The Skills Minister will be swapping his suit for overalls later this year when he will visit Westworth in her job as manufacturing engineer at the Eurofighter Typhoon Aircraft Final Assembly facility at BAE's site in Warton, Lancashire.

Hancock said: "Apprenticeships deliver by training and developing highly skilled workers, such as Jenny, across industry sectors and offer real jobs for young people. National Apprenticeship Week is a chance to highlight the value of Apprenticeships to both individuals and employers and Jenny is an inspiration and an example.

"I look forward to completing the swap and joining Jenny in her role over the summer and would encourage more MPs and company bosses to take part in job swaps to see the real impact apprentices have."

Westworth, who completed her Advanced Apprenticeship in Aerospace Engineering with BAE Systems, said: "It's the hands on experience from day one that makes Apprenticeships stand out. Employers give you a high level of responsibility whilst you're learning on the job, which means you develop skills very quickly."

David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, which is co-ordinating the Week, added: "This Ministerial job swap is a unique highlight for this year's National Apprenticeship Week. It's through activities, such as job swaps, that we can really demonstrate how Apprenticeships deliver both for employers and individuals and the economy."

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Hitachi Capital focuses on developing colleagues

Redsky Learning has added to its portfolio of blue chip international clients after being appointed as a learning and development partner of Hitachi Capital UK.

The specialist provider has been commissioned to deliver a series of high impact events to management and leadership levels at the company' s Leeds, Newbury, Staines and Trowbridge sites. The sessions will provide participants with practical techniques and skills including mentoring, making change happen and internal consulting.

Red Sky Learning recently announced its commitment to double its turnover in 2013. The company specialises in 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 tailored development programme that addresses their needs and challenges.

Lucy Clarke, learning and development specialist at Hitachi Capital, said: "We are delighted to be working with Redsky. At Hitachi Capital we recognise that our people are our most valuable asset and so it is important that we work with the right training partners that can add value to our teams.

"Redsky has created a programme of events that incorporates our core company values and strategic goals and we are looking forward to seeing the impact this tailored approach will have on our teams."

Gill Bryant-Green, director at Redsky Learning, said: "We are delighted to be appointed as a learning and development partner of Hitachi Capital. Redsky is committed to delivering tailored learning and development solutions that give businesses a tangible return on investment.

"Hitachi Capital is extremely dedicated to the development of its people and we have worked closely with them to develop a meaningful series of one day events that will give managers instantly usable skills and techniques to lead their teams to success."

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Employers commit to training future engineering talent

UK firms joining forces to address the major shortage of highly-skilled engineers which is impacting on sector growth and productivity. 

Major engineering employers have committed to training the next generation of engineering talent within their existing workforce by supporting the new government-backed Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Environmental Technologies which launched last week at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, and will be available from June 2013.

Engineering has been identified by the government as a high-growth industry, however, employer concerns about the acute shortfall of around 42,000 highly-skilled engineers, with severe under-representation amongst women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and those with disabilities, have prompted the development of the Higher Apprenticeship.

Lead Development Partner for the Higher Apprenticeship is City and Islington College, supported by Sector Skills Councils SEMTA, SummitSkills and Construction Industry Council (CIC) on behalf of Construction-Skills. The awarding body is Pearson. Employers including Babcock International, ICI, Dulux, MITIE and Balfour Beatty have played a key role in shaping the Higher Apprenticeship to ensure its relevance to the needs of a wide range of engineering-based businesses, from large employers to supply-chain SMEs. Industry bodies and diversity groups have also been consulted.

Speaking at the launch event today, Trevor Hunter, deputy director for Higher Apprenticeships at City and Islington College, said: "This new Higher Apprenticeship will play a pivotal role in upskilling the current Construction, Building Services and Manufacturing workforce where skills shortages are challenging businesses of all sizes. 

"It will create the next generation of talented technicians, supervisors and managers who will be able to address future environmental issues, and without whom, these industries and the wider UK economy will struggle to grow. We know that the employers that have been consulted and involved in its development view it as beneficial to their businesses, to staff progression and retention, and to long-term growth."

The government has provided £25 million to help employers train more of their workforce to gain qualifications at level four and above, helping them to foster innovation and attract the most promising new talent. The Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Environmental Technologies is primarily aimed at craftspeople and technicians working in roles that include environmental engineering across the Construction, Building Services and Manufacturing industries. It is also open to potential employees with relevant qualifications.

Testing knowledge and competence, the Higher Apprenticeship combines high-quality, professional-level training and flexible delivery. It encompasses a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and a Higher National Certificate (HNC) at level four, functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT), employee rights and responsibilities, and personal learning and thinking skills.

Funding will be available to employers through the Skills Funding Agency with the size of contribution dependent on sector, size of business and the apprentice's age. A £1,500 grant is available for SMEs employing up to 1,000 employees who have not employed an apprentice in the last twelve months.

Professor John M. Allport, engineering training and talent development leader at Cummins Turbo Technologies, said: "Higher Apprenticeships are an important strand in the provision of the workforce for tomorrow, where a diverse range of skills will be needed which cannot be provided through a single educational channel.

"We need to look at the overall abilities of young people, not just academic, but practical and soft skills as well.  This Higher Apprenticeship will give students the ability to meet the future needs of companies such as Cummins which are committed to reducing their carbon footprint through environmental technologies."

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Chef welcomes apprentices into Michelin-starred kitchen

Two young apprentices have been given the chance to spend a day with Chef Tom Kerridge as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

With almost a million young people out of work in the UK and as part of a drive to raise the profile of apprenticeships in the hospitality industry, the pair of apprentices were chosen by Greene King Pub partners to enjoy the one-day experience.

Apprentices Mia Claydon and Alistair Willoughby were welcomed by Kerridge, who runs two Michelin-starred pubs the Hand and Flowers in Marlow and was recently seen as a judge on BBC's The Great British Menu, into his kitchen for the day.

Already successful in managed pubs, an apprenticeships scheme has recently been introduced by Greene King for its tenanted and leased pubs, in partnership with Charnwood Training Group. Tenants receive a Government-funded grant of £1,500 for taking on an apprentice and their apprentices receive training and qualifications, resulting in skilled and committed employees.  As well as being of huge benefit to these small businesses, the scheme is helping young people develop long-lasting and rewarding careers in the hospitality industry and last year almost three quarters of all apprentices successfully completed their apprenticeship.

Claydon, 17 from Suffolk works at the Swan in Long Melford and Willoughby, 20 from Baldock is an apprentice at the Orange Tree in Baldock.  The pair were nominated as part of a Greene King competition to find talented kitchen apprentices.

Kerridge said: "It was a pleasure to welcome Alistair and Mia into my kitchen. They both have enormous potential and it's wonderful to see new talent emerging from an apprenticeship scheme.  Earning qualifications whilst learning valuable skills on the job is a great opportunity for young people."

Kerridge leases the Hand and Flowers pub from Greene King. The pub was awarded its second Michelin Star in 2012, the first pub to ever achieve this accolade. Claydon and Willoughby spent their day behind the scenes in the pub's kitchen, experiencing the hard work involved in preparing and serving food worthy of two Michelin Stars.

Simon Longbottom, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, said: "Our apprenticeships scheme with Charnwood Training Group has resulted in more and more Greene King pubs taking on apprentices as it's so accessible and rewarding for small businesses."

"Each apprentice receives training and qualifications and it's really giving young people an opportunity to establish a career in the hospitality industry. Mia and Alistair are a great example of the emerging talent that apprenticeships help nurture and progress, and I'd like to thank Tom for giving them this very special experience."

National Apprenticeships Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeships Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

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Apprenticeships remain poor relation to university, survey reveals

Almost half of working parents believe that apprenticeships are more appropriate for manual or blue collar jobs and less than a fifth believe that apprenticeships have the same status as university education.

That's according to a survey of about 400 working parents, conducted by the CIPD as part of its Learning to Work programme.

With today marking the start of National Apprenticeship week, the survey, Employee Outlook: Focus on Apprenticeships, also shows that only one in ten parents rank apprenticeships as their preferred qualification for their children, while nearly half would choose a university degree.

When asked what would make them believe that apprenticeships are a better career option, the top two reasons cited were:

More information about apprenticeships and related career options (less than a fifth of respondents agreed that teachers had provided their children with information about alternatives to university education)More local employers offering apprenticeships

Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said: "Apprenticeships give young people the chance to learn and develop skills in the context of the workplace and enable employers to grow their own workforce and recruit from a more diverse pool of talent. But this new research shows that misperceptions about apprenticeships, which is likely to impact the supply of potential candidates for employers that do offer apprenticeships and deter those that don't from adapting their recruitment methods.

"A key objective of the CIPD's Learning to Work programme has been to encourage more employers to offer high quality apprenticeship programmes, and the introduction of Higher Apprenticeships last year was designed to offer new access routes into professions, such as business administration and HR, which would normally require a university degree or academic qualification. But our research shows there is still work to be done to improve the parity of esteem between the many excellent employer-led apprenticeship programmes and university education. Our economy needs both routes to thrive."

Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at the CIPD, added: "It's not enough to convince employers that apprenticeships are a good idea, we also need to get the message out to potential candidates and their parents that apprenticeships are a good route into skilled jobs.

"In most cases, parents are the key influencers on young people's education and career choices, so schools and employers need to reach out to them and make sure that they and their children have enough information about alternatives to university education. At the moment this is not the case, with many young people reporting that they had no or very little advice and guidance about apprenticeships.

"One way to change this is to get more employers to go into schools and talk about these opportunities and the career pathways in their organisations and sectors. The Education and Employers Taskforce's Inspiring the Future programme already does great work in terms of matching employers with schools to give inspirational careers talks and we will be working with them to use this platform to raise awareness of apprenticeships over the next year."

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kent Cricket aims for excellence with management programme

Kent County Cricket Club is aiming for excellence in customer service, having signed up match day and frontline staff for a university course.

The club are believed to be the only first class County Cricket Club in the UK to offer a management diploma, accredited by Coventry University, to match day and frontline staff.

The introduction of the programme follows an £8 million project to redevelop Kent Cricket's St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury as the Club make strides to improve the visitor experience.

The Professional Development Diploma is being developed and delivered by personnel development specialists Acua Solutions Limited, subsidiary of Coventry University.

The course is being piloted by 25 staff at Kent Cricket and focuses on customer service, skills for effective sales, management and team leadership.

Kent Cricket is the second major sports organisation to have brought in Acua Solutions Limited to help improve the skills of staff, following the successful launch of a development programme at Premier League Club, Fulham Football Club.

Jamie Clifford, Kent Cricket CEO, said: "Over the last two years the St Lawrence Ground has undergone a major redevelopment to make it fit for purpose and meet the challenges of a modern county cricket club. 

"While having great facilities is important, we recognise that making sure our customers and supporters enjoy the best possible experience while with us is equally so.

"This programme has been designed to help maintain and build the level of service we offer.  Our match day staff  have as much contact with our visitors as anyone, and play a major role as ambassadors of Kent County Cricket Club.

"We are committed to investing in our staff and developing the skills of local people through this initiative fits with our desire to offer the best possible in ground experience."

"We've been hugely impressed with the exceptional level of customer service at Fulham Football Club and are excited to be partnering with Acua Solutions Limited and Coventry University to help make the experience at Kent Cricket as good as it can be."

Jeannine Mortlock, managing director at Acua Solutions Limited said: "We're delighted to be involved in this pioneering development at Kent County Cricket Club, which is a club steeped in history.

"Like the programme at Fulham Football Club, it focuses on improving standards of service excellence on match days, and covers leadership and management principles."

Michael Costello, capability coach at Acua Solutions Limited, who is leading the programme, added: "Kent Cricket has its own unique challenges, such as managing the needs of visitors during breaks in play on the cricket field, like rain delays.

"The programme has been carefully designed to help the Kent team meet the needs of these challenges whilst also increasing levels of engagement with workers, improving knowledge and skills."

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Infor announce agreement to acquire Certpoint Systems

Business application software providers Infor have announced an agreement to acquire learning management software providers Certpoint Systems.

The transaction, which is expected to be completed on April 1st, will see Infor Human Capital Management suite Infor possess the most comprehensive end-to-end offerings the market has to offer.

Infor chose Certpoint for its thought leadership and ability to deliver social and mobile learning technologies that have transformed the discipline of learning from a back office support function to an enterprise talent optimisation tool.

Learning is expected to become a key capability for Infor's customers in the healthcare industry as the industry transforms itself.

Tarik Taman, general manager of human capital management at Infor, said: "The acquisition of CERTPOINT will enable Infor to offer customers an end-to-end HCM solution, delivered to help maximise access and business insight and achieve breakthrough performance.

"In addition to complementary functionality, the acquisition of CERTPOINT sends the signal that Infor intends to be top the leaderboard of SaaS Enterprise Human Capital Management solution providers."

Ara Ohanian, CEO and chief happiness officer at Certpoint Systems, added: "Infor and CERTPOINT share a common culture -a focus on innovation and business impact.

"Our aim is to offer clients all the advantages of our combined strengths, building further on our ability to transform knowledge into tangible business results."

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Mayor backs training scheme for young people

Thirteen British investment firms have committed to an initiative which will see young people trained and offered their first job in the city.

The project, Investment 2020, will offer a total of more than 100 newly-created 12 month paid trainee roles primarily to school leavers and recent graduates, regardless of background and education.  Investment 2020 trainees will be given the opportunity to gain experience across all areas of business, including marketing, IT, infrastructure, operations and investment. At the end of the year the trainees will have the experience and business knowledge to seek a full time role, either within the Company they have been training with or another City firm.  

Each of the firms will offer different programmes and by 2020, the ambition is that the scheme will offer at least 2,020 roles per year across the investment management industry and other financial service providers.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This is an excellent scheme that will give hundreds of young people the chance to get their foot in the door at some of London's leading investment firms. By learning the ropes as Investment 2020 trainees they will get an invaluable chance to build their CVs and boost their long-term chances of securing top jobs in the City."

Investment 2020 is the brainchild of Henderson's chief executive, Andrew Formica who has been running the scheme at Henderson for the last three years. Over this time 95 per cent of its trainees have found full time roles. He has been supported by Nichola Pease, a member of one of the founding families of Barclays Bank, former Chief Executive of JO Hambro Capital Management and a Non-Executive Director of Schroders.  Together they have helped craft the programme being launched today.

Pease said: "Like all industries, the investment industry needs to play its part in British society.  All of us involved are firmly of the view that the investment industry has a collective responsibility to help tackle youth unemployment and the industry is at its best when it has meritocracy and inclusivity at its heart."

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Lack of self-confidence holding back female managers, study finds

A lack of self-confidence and a weak talent pipeline are among the biggest challenges holding back female managers.

That's according to Women in Leadership, the first ever whitepaper released by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) on gender issues.

The paper builds on the results of the National Management Survey (NMSS), published by CMI and XpertHR, which in 2012 showed a lifetime pay gap of more than £420,000 between male and female executives. Women in Leadership presents a range of practical tips, including:

For female managers

Identify your goals and what you want to achieve through your career at different stages, using tools such as the Grow model for coaching.

Assess your career development to date - are you fully satisfied? Does your vision match the reality? What are your options for getting there?

Look for opportunities. Assess the internal opportunities at your organisation, assess your skills and qualifications, build networks and learn to better negotiate your salary.

Keep an eye on your progress and continue to revisit your plan. What has been the result of your actions?

Inspire younger women by getting involved in your local school or taking on a mentee.

For employers and line managers

Measure and report on the proportion of women in your workforce, including at senior levels. Where there is little progress, act on it.

Create supportive networks and encourage mentoring opportunities for female managers.

Prepare future leaders with the skills they need to do a good job at the top including training, experience and qualifications.

Enable women to be wives, mothers and carers by embracing flexible working at all levels.

For Government

Require companies who have transgressed to publish aggregated pay data at all levels within the business.

Focus on the talent pipeline, not just the boardroom: ensure greater transparency from employers about the level of female representation at different management levels.

Inspire younger women's career aspirations by integrating management and leadership development into the education and skills system at every level, as recommended by the Heseltine review.

The release of Women in Leadership marks both International Women's Day (8 March 2013), and CMI's own commitment to sign up to the Government's 'Think, Act, Report' voluntary initiative, which aims to drive greater transparency around gender employment issues. CMI is also supporting women in the workplace with its Women in Management Network, which is the largest women's network in the UK with more than 7,500 members and offers events and support to female managers across the country, including through its Horizon Mentoring Programme.

On CMI's signing up to the initiative, Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, said: "I am very pleased that the Chartered Management Institute have today signed up to the Government's Think, Act, Report initiative.  More than 70 leading organisations across a wide range of sectors have already joined, including BT, Accenture, IBM, Network Rail and Marks & Spencer.  More than a million employees are working in companies signed up to Think, Act, Report. By their public commitment to promoting gender equality, these organisations are leading the way and I hope others will follow their lead. 

"It is important that companies have a diverse range of people at every level.  What is good for equality is also good for business - quite simply companies make better decisions when their staff are drawn from the widest pool, as they understand their market and their customers better."

Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: "The business case for more women in senior positions is clear. Research has shown having women at the top is good business sense: firms do better with diversity.

"Sadly, for many organisations, it seems that Wonder Woman is still worth less than Superman. Just look at the FTSE 100. With only two women CEOs, UK plc will continue to lose out on female talent if businesses don' t report on the progress and show what they are doing to tackle the issue. Women in Leadership should serve as a call to action for employers to tackle inequality - and reap the business benefits that come with it."

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Skillsoft: Care home staff are not being trained properly

In a bid to raise standards of care given to the elderly, learning pioneer Skillsoft is urging care home directors to look again at how staff are trained.

The standard of care afforded to the elderly has come under increased scrutiny recently with many care homes struggling to meet a basic level of care or provide sufficient training to ensure all staff understand their roles and responsibilities.  For example, figures from the Care Quality Commission show that 30 per cent of nursing homes do not have a 'do not attempt resuscitation' policy in place, but of those which had implemented one, just 37 per cent of staff had received training on it.

The predicted rise in the number of workers within the adult social care industry - by at least half a million to more than two million will also magnify any shortcomings in training over the next few years. This makes it all the more important for care home directors to put appropriate measures in place now.

Skillsoft is using this year's Skills for Care conference in London on March 14th to offer advice to the care home sector on how an e-learning approach can provide a flexible training tool for staff as well as help meet the raft of industry regulations.  The company will also be launching two new courses focusing on improving staff awareness of 'end of life' care and understanding the legal safeguards that protect vulnerable people from an inappropriate 'deprivation of liberty'.

Duncan Shine, regional sales director at Skillsoft, said: "It is sad to see care home staff not being trained to the adequate standard - especially as the number of people employed in the sector is set to rise.

"Training should not be seen as just a box ticking exercise but needs to form a much broader, strategic part of the business. E-learning offers an easy and cost effective way to provide regular training sessions and refresher courses, which play a vital part in ensuring standards of care are not only met but maintained.

"As regulatory compliance within the industry increases and policies and procedures continue to change and be updated, those businesses that have put effective training measures in place will find themselves one step ahead when it comes to keeping staff updated and not just meeting but exceeding standards."

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Getting adult learners to engage with learning technology

Julie Wedgewood, an independent technology supported learning specialist, spoke to attendees of the Learning Technologies 2013 exhibition about moderating online learning communities.

Wedgewood said: "You only need a single spark to help people think differently about their learning. To get to the adult learner who thinks they know what learning is you need something unexpected, you need to include discovery and for it to be fun. In order to get them to engage with learning technology, it needs to be technology led, with cyclical programmes."

An attendee of the Training Journal Learning eXchange commented about mindset. Wedgewood said that "business leaders think they understand how training works. There is a conspiracy of experience. They have experienced training, which is out of date. The more senior the people, the more out of date with technology they usually are."

Another delegate asked about creating learning communities. Wedgewood advised that: "I don't see them as something necessarily permanent. When moderating online communities, you need three things: purpose, passion, and people. If you have the first two, you will get the people. You can't dump people into a learning community and expect them to know what to do. Learning communities need to transfer from learning to the workplace community." Wedgewood also referred to the 1964 Bruce Tuckman model of group work to help people understand their online communities.

Wedgewood continued with how to work inside an online community. "The moderator has to know their subject, have a mindset of wanting to share and understand they are not there to dominate. That will kill the community.

"Be friendly but stay professional and follow this for moderating online communities: review content, including previous posts for context; reflect on the person's motivation, what people are learning from, will this stimulate further discussion?; respond appropriately, including moving off-line if this may stir up politics or harm someone's career."

When focusing on what to do in order for the moderator to support people, Wedgewood had the following advice: "Stay silent, another person might answer; suggest - not answer, but ask 'where can you look? Have you tried Google?'

"Signpost, link to something but still don't answer. Silence and suggest mean other members of the community might come back with information and this stimulates conversation."

She added: "Keep the community stimulated: feed, weed and seed. Acknowledge, attribute, amplify. Round up the daily or weekly the top five things, added into the knowledge base, with the links; curate the knowledge; expert knowledge comes out from a trigger situation. For the 'not me' of learning technology, the link every week will eventually entice them."

One eXchange attendee was worried about an over eager community member. Wedgewood's advice was a "face to face chat".

"We like communities because of the feel good factor that creates a sticky community. Grownups still have a desire for reward. Acknowledge their contribution. In a social community, as moderator, highlight something that's really good. This is the 21st century, you are what you share," she concluded.

Julie Wedgewood took part in the Learning and Skills eXchange run by TJ and our partner Towards Maturity.

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Capita awarded extended contract for Civil Service training

Capita plc has announced that the Cabinet Office has extended its contract to exclusively manage the provision of training across the Civil Service for a further two years from February 2014 to the end of March 2016.

As  result of the announcement, the support solutions provider anticipates that it will generate revenues of at least £30m per annum over the two year extension.

The initial 11 months of the contract has seen Capita directly deliver 41 per cent of training with the remaining 59 per cent procured on the open market compared to the 49/51 contractual obligation. The contract was also targeted to broaden the involvement of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Government and to date the majority (72 per cent) of open market training delivered has been by SMEs.

Paul Pindar, Capita plc chief executive, said: "In the current contract's first 11 months it generated significant savings for Civil Service departments. More than half of all courses were procured on the open market, nearly three quarters from small and medium (SME) training providers. The extended contract will enable a wider range of public sector organisations to access quality learning and development services, which provide value for money and support the delivery of excellent public service, from June onwards. 

"Combining innovative, blended learning solutions, including face to face, online and specialist courses, managed by Capita, the public sector can look forward to a substantially more efficient process for procuring learning services." Jerry Arnott, director of Civil Service Learning, said: "The move to a common curriculum of learning, focused around business needs, is a key part of the Civil Service Reform plan which is creating a stronger, more unified Civil Service, equipped to deal with the challenges ahead.

"More than 320,000 individual civil servants are already using the new service to help them develop the skills they need - and more are coming online every day. Evaluation results are excellent with 96 per cent of learners who attend a classroom event agreeing that it met the published objectives and 91 per cent saying they have already put the learning into action in their work."

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Outsourcing group partner with charity to train unemployed adults

Strategic outsourcing company MITIE has backed a campaign by charity City Gateway to boost training for unemployed adults.

City Gateway helps NEET young people and women in London, offering training, mentoring and opportunities for apprenticeships with leading companies.

MITIE's partnership with City Gateway is part of its support for the Evening Standard's Ladder for London campaign which helps unemployed young adults into work through paid apprenticeships.

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, chief executive of MITIE, said: "Providing people of all backgrounds opportunities to maximize their potential is one of our core values.

"It is very important that companies like MITIE, which employ so many, do what they can to help young unemployed people get the skills and opportunities they need.

"MITIE already has several long running apprentice schemes and we look forward to partnering closely with City Gateway to help young adults kick start their lives and secure employment."

With one in four young Londoners currently unemployed, the workplace opportunities will help provide a sustainable start for young people as well as help secure the future of companies like MITIE.

Eddie Stride, City Gateway CEO, said: "City Gateway is delighted to be partnering with MITIE to create 12 life changing apprenticeship opportunities. We are also very grateful for MITIE's financial support for the critical work we do supporting young people into employment and positive futures. Partnerships like this can start to make a real difference to youth unemployment in our city!"

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Kallidus helps AA driving instructor training move online

The AA Driving School has launched a new online system to improve its method of training driving instructors.

The new e-learning system, developed by talent management solutions provider Kallidus, will make training to become an AA driving instructor more flexible and tailored to an individual's need.  Driving Instructor Training (DIT) pupils will be able to manage their own learning through a secure website as the result of the system.

The modular system means pupils will be able to supplement the one-to-one practical tuition they receive with an AA trainer. Until now, DIT pupils would have used a workbook to study for these elements of their syllabus.

Gill Balshaw, head of ADI learning and development at the AA Driving School, said: "Many people come to driving instruction as a career change and carry on working while they complete their training. Others need to fit the training around the demands of a family. Whatever their situation, we want to make sure that training to become a driving instructor with us is logistically possible, and for that to happen we need a flexible way of teaching.

"The new system also gives us more scope to offer a blended way of learning - so we are training people to become small business owners and not just driving instructors. We are positive this new system will make training with us an even better experience."

The main benefits of the new system to DIT pupils will be increased flexibility, adaptability and better customer service. The learning experience will also be more interactive and pupils will be able to take more control over how they tackle the modules.

Rob Caul, CEO of Kallidus, said: "We are delighted to be helping AA Driving School take their training online. Training today is all about creating an engaging learning experience and the AA Driving School is leading the way in doing this with its new online system."

By placing some of the training modules online, AA Driving School will also be able to better monitor how DIT pupils are progressing through their training. This will mean anyone who is struggling with a certain area will be picked up sooner and given extra help.

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Award launched to celebrate firms that champion vocational learning

A new award which aims to celebrate businesses that champion and positively embrace vocational learning within their workforce has been launched today.

The annual VQ (vocational qualification) day, which is now in its sixth year, has launched two new categories; VQ Employer of the Year award and VQ Learner of the Year. Nominations for both categories are now open, with employers and colleges being encouraged to submit outstanding students who gained a vocational qualification in the last 12 months.

Held on 5th June 2013, VQ Day is a celebration of practical and vocational achievements not only to the individual but to UK PLC. For those aged 16 and above, it's about celebrating new skills, no matter the age, and encouraging parity of esteem between high quality vocational and academic qualifications.

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said: "This year we have revitalised the awards to celebrate not only the successes of VQ learners, but also to recognise UK businesses that have successfully embraced and championed technical, practical and work-related skills within their workforce.

"We recognise there are many paths to success and it is important that vocational qualifications can achieve equal weighting with that of other qualifications, which is why a celebration such as VQ Day is so important. We are encouraging all employers and educational organisations to help their workforce or students get the edge by learning through doing and take part in a day that celebrates individual achievements, and the wider benefits they bring to society and business."

Last year's VQ Learner of the Year, 24-year-old Dave Hughes, believes his vocational qualifications helped him start his own company, and he is soon to launch a second business.

He said: "I really feel that there is a stereotype within society that if you haven't done an academic qualification, such as an A-level or a degree, then you can't have a successful career. This is absolutely not the case and I believe more should be done by teachers in schools to provide students with the same level of information about vocational qualifications as they do with the more 'traditional' types of qualifications.

"I started my creative agency, elloDave, in 2009 and the recognition of the VQ Learner of the Year award has definitely helped in attracting new clients and growing the business. I also believe it has enabled my second company, weprintpaper.com, to get off the ground. Later this year I'm going to go back to Newcastle-under-Lyme College to act as a mentor to other students who are currently taking vocational qualifications and those interested in starting their own businesses later down the line."

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British Gas to train and employ young people

British Gas has today announced plans to create 1,000 new jobs over the next three years for young people not involved in education, employment or training.

The jobs, created by a partnership between charity Global Action Plan, British Gas and Accenture, follows a recent report by The Work Foundation which finds that since the start of the recession, youth unemployment in the UK has risen faster than any other G8 nation. 

The Transform joint venture will give free sustainability training to more than 1,000 17- to 25-year-olds currently not involved in education or training. Each individual that successfully completes the course will earn a BTEC qualification and is guaranteed an interview with British Gas.

One thousand full-time roles have been created by British Gas, as part of its ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme, to help deliver housing regeneration projects in local communities, enabling hard-pressed households to become more energy efficient.  

Claire Williams, managing director of British Gas New Energy, said: "Growth, unemployment and sustainability are big challenges for the country. Big British companies have a responsibility to make a positive contribution which is why we are taking action to create skilled green jobs in areas of low employment. 

"This training will make a difference to unemployed young people who will get skills and jobs as well as hard-pressed households who will benefit from energy efficiency measures."

Accenture supported the development of the training through its Skills to Succeed programme which will equip 500,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business.  Global Action Plan will help target young unemployed people within the local community and will deliver the training.

Under the ECO programme, British Gas will deliver hundreds of community projects to install energy saving measures in homes- helping to cut energy bills, pulling households out of fuel poverty and saving millions of tonnes of carbon.

In November and December 2012, Transform was successfully piloted in Walsall and Glasgow where all 17 jobs on offer were filled.

Olly Benzecry, senior managing director of Accenture in the UK and Ireland, said: "Accenture's Skills to Succeed initiative equips thousands of young people who are not in employment with the skills they need to get a job. The Transform partnership reflects Accenture's commitment to improving the communities in which we live and work, not only because it is helping to create employment but also because of its focus on providing sustainability training and green job opportunities."

The move comes in response to the UK's continuing unemployment crisis with more than one million 16- to 24-year-olds out of education, employment or training.

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Online apprenticeship applications increase by 41 per cent in a year

New figures released by the National Apprenticeship Service have revealed that more than 267,400 Apprenticeship applications were submitted online during November 2012 and January 2013.  

This announcement represents growth of 41 per cent, when compared to the same period last year. Apprenticeship vacancies have also witnessed significant growth. Nearly 25,400 vacancies were advertised online in the three months - an increase of 26.6 per cent on the previous year.

The release of the data times coincides with the launch of a new, free app which will make it easier than ever before to find an Apprenticeship. AV Search will enable users to search through the thousands of jobs advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service Apprenticeship Vacancies database on their mobile phones.

Compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, AV Search allows individuals to find relevant vacancies by inputting a keyword, such as an industry sector/job role that interests them, together with the location they are looking to find a role in. The app then displays all the job matches and provides further information on the vacancy, including who the employer is and the closing date for applications. Users can then link through to apply for the vacancy by registering on the main Apprenticeship Vacancies site.

David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "As the figures suggest, more consumers and employers are recognising the benefits of Apprenticeships and the value of the high quality training available.  It is great to see such significant growth in both Apprenticeship applications and vacancies submitted and advertised online in just one year.

"Apprenticeships are a great way for young people and adult learners to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification; and setting them on the road to success in their chosen career. For employers, hiring apprentices is a way of attracting new talent and developing a motivated, skilled and diverse workforce."

AV Search has been seen as an extension of the Apprenticeship Vacancies Matching Service, which enables people to search and apply for vacancies online.  It is primarily targeted at 16- to 24-yearolds and potential apprentices aged 25 and over. However, it can also be used as a tool for parents, training providers, careers advisors, schools and colleges, employers and other stakeholders. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes and Android app stores.

Way added: "As Apprenticeships continue to grow in popularity, it is important we can offer a range of ways for people to find and apply for vacancies.  So we have introduced AV Search to make that process even easier and as accessible as possible."

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AELP plead caution over MP announcement on over-60s training

A proposal which could see over-60s go back to university and retrain should undergo a "full impact assessment first" .

That was the view of The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) who were responding to an MP comment on the need for over-60s to retrain.

David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, yesterday called for workers over the age 60 to go back to university for retraining and upskilling. With the number of over-60s expected to reach 19 million by 2050, Willetts believes that retraining and upgrading skills can help older workers remain employable.

AELP have come out in support of the statement but warn that financing a loan repayment may pose a real challenge.

An AELP spokesman said: "The Association of Employment and Learning Providers are natural supporters of lifelong learning and there is still much more to be done, particularly with SMEs, to encourage learning in the workplace. 

"The concern we have with the minister's proposals is similar to the one we have with FE loans for people aged 25 and over who might want to start an apprenticeship, namely when you have a mortgage and the costs of raising a family to think about, financing a loan repayment is a real challenge. And even when you pass the age of 60, there are retirement living costs and possibly expensive care costs to think about. AELP has warned the Government that FE loans might have a very negative impact on adult apprenticeship numbers, so any new proposals should undergo a full impact assessment first."

Dianne Worman, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), believes that the announcement will remove some of the barriers that may have been around before.

"It's good that they are making the option available. Some of our research* shows that older workers may not participate as much in training for one reason or another. I think it's imperative that employers encourage older workers to take more of an active role in their training and development," she said.

"This announcement has removed some of the barriers that may have been around before. And I know not everyone will be able to do it but at least they have given older workers the choice - they definitely have the appetite for it in my opinion."

Alastair Thomson, principal advocacy officer at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), added: "The idea that older people should consider refreshing their skills for an extended working life is one that deserves support. But colleges and universities may need to re-think what they offer.

"Not only can learning in later life improve and lengthen your working life, but there are also many health benefits.

"However, a full-time course may not be of interest to many older people, whereas part-time study can help develop new skills and understanding or refresh and update knowledge. While individuals need to continue investing in their own development throughout their lives, employers also need to look again at properly utilising the skills of the older workforce."

*CIPD 2012 - Managing a healthy ageing workforce: A national business imperative

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Workers are seeing no benefit from their hard work, study finds

British workers are carrying their companies through the recession but with no benefit to themselves, statistics released by Pitman Training Group have revealed.

In a survey that takes into account people from all aspects of work - full time, self-employed, parents and students, Pitman Training Group took an in-depth look into people's attitudes towards their jobs to see what makes them tick at work.

Interestingly, the research revealed that a mere 20 per cent of respondents actually felt career progression was the most important - but a huge 60 per cent of people surveyed had taken on additional responsibilities and every single person questioned carried out unpaid overtime.

Worryingly, only a third of survey participants had been supplied with work-related training from their employer.

Responding to the findings, Claire Lister, managing director of Pitman Training Group, said: "I'm shocked to learn that this is the current situation with training. It's no wonder less people value career progression, as they're probably totally disillusioned. They're giving everything and getting nothing back.

"Training's what develops a passion for progression. If people keep learning, they'll keep thriving and wanting to succeed - without that, everything just comes to a standstill. For me this is very worrying that employers are not supporting their staff and it's all take take take. Time and cost can no longer be blamed as obstacles, as online learning offers flexible, quick training updates from staff's desks."

She added: "For employers that do train their staff they see increased efficiency and productivity, surely this would be helpful UK wide when everyone is trying to juggle workloads? If something doesn't change what we could very quickly end up with is a dejected workforce and this isn't great for injecting some energy back into British businesses.

"Our survey also showed that the majority of people also saw their current career as merely a stepping stone, suggesting that people are just treading water, however, 21 per cent of people were concerned with a salary increase, thinking this was the most important factor in their career. How are staff going to get a salary increase without developing? These really are quite worrying figures."

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We’re still people-centric, L&D professionals claim

L&D professionals have confirmed they are first and foremost 'people people', rather than 'technology' people, though they recognise the power of technology in the business mix.

This was the feedback from senior professionals across Europe who came together for the recent iVentiv Talent Management Executive Knowledge Exchange in Cologne, Germany.

The attendees at the event, which included specialists from organisations such as Coca-Cola, KLM and Deutsche Telekom, said they appreciated the place of technology to enable them to reach out to a wide audience in a global market, but were suspicious of seeing technology as a panacea or using technology for technology's sake.

At the event in Cologne, LINE hosted one of the sessions, titled Technology Enabled Futures - In Three Parts

The session addressed the fact that we live in a world full of complexity and flux. There are many ways to teach and communicate with our employees, partners and customers and it is becoming increasingly difficult to decide what works best. Our businesses need clear organisational strategies that can take the different channels and technologies and weave them into a coherent way forward that brings about real change.

The session explored what technologies and learning channels should be considered, what challenges might be faced, as well as how to make the most of modern technology to create learning and communication blends that are truly transformative for business.

The session was structured around three parts:

1. What's in the mix?

2. What are the challenges we face?

3. How to make it work

Andrew Joly, LINE's design director, who hosted the session, said: "The workshop was both exciting and challenging and the questions came thick and fast. It was an excellent reminder that technology is only as good as the organisational challenges it can solve.

"Fortunately, LINE's credo that technology should be weaved into a larger, people-centred learning and communications architectures designed to meet specific business challenges resonated well with the participants."

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Channel 4 and Brightwave collaborate to launch digital learning portal

Channel 4 and learning specialist Brightwave has created a digital learning portal dedicated to helping internal sales teams achieve best value for their airtime customers.

The online academy is a training resource providing market intelligence and competitor analysis as well as vital insight to the Channel 4 brand and service. The overarching aim is to help Channel 4 employees achieve the best value for customers through product knowledge and improved accuracy, all leading to increased airtime sales.

The topics include:

• Maths in media sales - calculating TVR simulation tool

• Commodity management

• Maximising agency and sales relationships

• 'Do the deal!' real customer scenarios to practice and test knowledge

• Assessment

Targeting an audience with different levels of knowledge, the online academy answers the training needs of graduates and new recruits whilst providing a sound refresher for more experienced and senior employees.

Charles Gould, managing director at Brightwave, said: "Supporting clients with their internal sales capability is a particular area of specialism for Brightwave. Working closely with the Channel 4 team on the academy portal, we have achieved an exciting solution that will boost skills and performance - ultimately improving customer satisfaction and delivering increased value."

The academy is the latest evolution in the broadcaster's commitment to ensuring all employees are equipped with the latest technology-enabled learning to respond better and faster to customers' changing needs. Self-paced and delivered via a clear, easy to use interface, the performance support tool enables Channel 4 employees to take control of their learning.

Jonathan Allan, director of Sales at Channel 4, said: "We enjoyed working with Brightwave to deliver this key addition to our Channel 4 Sales Academy toolkit. The online portal will play an essential role in training our front line sales staff."

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Opportunities to transform outcomes are everywhere, specialists claim

An education revolution is coming which is set to offer "opportunities to transform outcomes for learners everywhere" .

That's according to Sir Michael Barber, chief education strategist at ICT specialist Pearson, who says that seizing the opportunities offered by the revolution in education will be vital in most economies where there is a widening gap between students' qualifications and the skills required by employers.

Learning technology expert Charles Jennings, founder of the 70:20:10 Forum and a member of the ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN steering committee claims that "old methods are failing to keep up with the speed and levels of innovation necessary in our digital world". He believes that the pressure on companies to ensure that their workforce is creative will be enormous and that those firms that are incapable of innovation will go to the wall.

"Organisations will succeed when the speed of learning is greater than the speed of change they are facing, and will fail when learning innovation and impact fall behind", he said.

"Competitive advantage and excellence are to a large extent driven by the ability of any workforce to continuously learn and innovate."

According to ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN conference director Astrid Jaeger, technology will play a key role in this process of continuing change - as a tool for both inspiration and implementation. 

"Technology offers unparalleled opportunities for learners and teachers alike on an individual, local and global level. New technology can seem complicated and its use places demands on institutions, educators and organisations which are increasingly influenced by cost.

"However, a failure to innovate could have calamitous consequences. Political leaders, educators and businesses need to plan ahead and start thinking seriously about how they will cope with the increasing demand for innovation."

With a particular emphasis on how 'Learning Moves' - how it can be inspirational - ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2013 will focus on change and the role of technology in promoting creativity and innovation.

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Russam GMS: Interim manager is not a dirty word

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was today slammed for his use of the word 'interim manger', with an industry specialist saying that his remarks indicated a misconception of the role.

The Blues' manager this week announced that he would leave the club in May stating the decision to give him the title "interim manager" was a "massive mistake" given to him to ensure the club could "wash its hands" of him if he failed to deliver against the terms of his contract.

Charles Russam, chairman of interim manager providers, Russam GMS, said Benitez gave people the wrong impression of what an interim manager actually was.

"The remarks made by Benitez indicate a misconception of the role of an interim manager. Interim professionals are highly skilled individuals hired for their specialist skills and experience to deliver a specific role or fill in a senior level gap. They are commonly over qualified for such roles and as such are highly sought after by top employers," he said.

"True interims are not 'trial' or 'acting managers' which was the role Benitez was in. Chelsea owner Abramovich might have said he wanted an 'interim manager'; however, this was the wrong term to use. Benitez was an 'acting' manager - someone trying out the role, who actually wanted it permanently, not an interim manager.

"In our experience, most interims have no desire to become full time employees - they see interim management as a career in itself and their independence, experience and professionalism is their cache and the reason businesses hire them."

The interim management industry is growing steadily in spite of the flat economy and is expected to be worth £2 billion by 2015 according to figures published by the IMA (Interim Management Association).

Russam added: "Interim isn't a derogatory word. Interims are effectively 'sprint CEOs' and proven specialists in their field. They provide a flexible, low risk and strategic labour force that can be cost effective and turned on and off to suit an organisation's exact requirements.

"Interims are not simply there to hold the fort or try out a role, they offer so much more. We are celebrating 30 years in business this year and our success has been built on the fact that interim managers deliver and contribute huge value to businesses."

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