Dragon Naturally Speaking e-Learning - Training

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New drive encourages private sector to strive for better customer service

Under new plans, private sector companies are now being encouraged to apply for the Customer Service Excellence Standard (CSE), set-up to help improve customer service within the public sector.

CSE initially launched five years ago focusing predominately on public sector organisations. The new plans now aim to take this experience and expertise and apply it to the private sector, and help improve customer service within the UK business scene.

The CSE standard tests areas of importance as outlined by customers themselves, such as delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude. 

Gary Swarbrooke, spokesperson for the CSE, said: "Since Customer Service Excellence launched in March 2008, we've worked mostly with public sector organisations. We now want to take our proven experience and expertise to the private sector, encouraging them to achieve the high level of standards that are becoming commonplace and expected from customers." 

The standard operates on three distinct levels; by allowing businesses to self-assess themselves, by allowing individuals and teams within the business to explore and acquire new customer service skills, and finally by allowing businesses to seek formal accreditation.

Swarbrooke added: "The final element is the key really as this is what makes the standard really stand out. We have very strict criteria when we assess businesses. Companies have to work really hard, and prove that they are at the top of their game when it comes to customer service, in order to be accredited. 

"We're keen for CSE to grow as a recognised symbol of excellence, both by businesses themselves and more importantly by the customer. By doing this, our aim is to put the UK business community back on the map, and get this economy growing again.

"At the core of most successful businesses is good people, and good customer service. If you get that right, then you are giving yourself a real platform to succeed. Unfortunately though, a lot of businesses today seem to neglect customer service. We're here to change that and raise the bar, so that both organisations and customers benefit in the future."

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Adult learner award for return to work scheme

A project to help unemployed people learn new skills and get back to work has scooped a national award.

Get that Job, which is offered by Reading College and Oxford & Cherwell Valley College has been named winner of the ESF South East Project Award as part of the Adult Learners' Week awards, which recognises innovative projects and inspirational individuals. The winners will be announced this week (May 18 to 24) as part of the Adult Learners' Week celebrations.

Get that Job offers free vocational training and qualifications to unemployed people receiving means-tested benefits. Courses range in duration from one day to 20 weeks, and forms part of a four-step programme which also helps people to get ready for work and secure the job they want. A partnership with REED NCFE Job Finder Service helps students to apply for jobs before they are advertised anywhere else.

This year (2013), Reading College has been working in partnership with the new Grosvenor Casino and Tesco distribution centre to help them recruit unemployed people into positions. 

Lesley Donoghue, principal of Reading College, said: "Adult Learners' Week recognises the importance of education and training whatever your age. Adults form an important part of our college community and we are committed to helping mature students develop the skills they need for employment and for life.

"Get that Job is providing a much-needed bridge for people who want to return to work but who need further skills and qualifications, and the support to achieve their ambitions. We are delighted to receive this award for the work the team is doing in the local community."

Among those to have benefited from the Get that Job programme is 44-year-old Maria Stanford.

Stanford, from Reading was referred to Reading College by the Jobcentre Plus and completed a working in business administration course before enrolling on to pre-employment training for a job at Tesco. 

Maria said: "Being on Get that Job has been fantastic; the team are really nice, friendly and professional and helped me a great deal. It really prepares you for the working world. 

"The mock interviews were priceless. Interviews always make me feel nervous, so it was great to practice and receive feedback. It gave me the confidence to succeed in the real interview.

"Working in the new Tesco distribution centre appealed to me because it was near to where I live and Tesco were offering parent friendly working hours. I start my new job in June, and am glad to be working for a big organisation and to progress within it."

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Elearnity: Investment in talent solutions is encouraging

In a survey ahead of Elearnity's annual Symposium event next week, it's been revealed that integrating talent, performance, and development workflows is becoming more of a reality in major organisations.  

For many respondents, there is a clear focus on the delivery of global solutions through the use of one common platform. And while one common platform had often been deployed, many attendees highlighted the need to embed its use and the importance of simplifying the experience for end users, often by integrating processes. 

Although the learning and talent infrastructure does play a central role, many respondents were also looking to the future and delivering solutions to multiple devices was seen as a critical focus area for many during the next 12 months as was moving towards more resources than online courses.  The familiar challenges of engaging stakeholders to use online technology, as well as broadening the scope of solutions, were also still viewed as important.  

One of the most significant changes over the last year was the increasing corporate acceptance in the role technology can play in supporting learning and talent solutions and a continued willingness to invest despite the need in many organisation to restrain spending.  

Speaking about the findings, David Wilson, managing director of Elearnity, said: "It's encouraging to see corporate organisations continuing to significantly investing in learning and talent solutions.  Even though innovations such as mobile access will play a significant role in the future for many organisations, maximizing the value from existing solutions is clearly still an important area of focus.  

"For many organisations, 2013 is a year of transition with learning and talent professionals being given the opportunity to reinvent online learning and talent solutions and demonstrate the value they can add to their business by integrating processes to create an improved user experience."

The Symposium brings together a wide variety of corporate and vendor organisations to focus on current learning and talent themes. In a series of roundtable sessions, attendees work through key challenges and trends being tackled by learning and talent professionals today.  

"As an independent Analyst, our symposium aims to be different to other industry events.  Everyone has the opportunity to discuss their own unique challenges, putting trends and technology adoption into the context of their organisation. It's always fascinating to see what emerges from the roundtables and gain a clearer perspective of the reality of learning and talent solutions in major organisations," he concluded.

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Workers demand more hands-on approach, study reveals

Figures released today that coincide with Learning at Work Day (23 May) have found that nearly one third (33 per cent) of respondents prefer to learn by feeling or experiencing.

This is a key finding in the latest Skillsoft survey, which shows that learning through doing has overtaken a classroom-style approach as the top way to learn followed by just under one fifth (19 per cent) of those favouring a classroom-based approach and 17 per cent of respondents admitting to being visual learners.

The research, commissioned by Skillsoft and carried out by independent research company Opinion Matters, also found significant variations between learning styles of the youngest and oldest age groups. More than a quarter (26 per cent) of 16 - to 24 year olds favour a visual approach - looking at graphics, watching a demonstration or reading - compared to just six per cent of over 55s. However, the over 55s are more responsive to learning in a group setting with their peers and having the opportunity to discuss and learn from others experiences. 20 per cent in this age group prefer this style, compared to only five per cent of 16 - to 24 year-olds.

Commenting on the findings, Kevin Young, general manager, EMEA at Skillsoft, said: "Just as the content of training sessions needs to evolve to keep up with industry best practice and new technologies, so does the method used to deliver it to make it valuable and digestible to learners.

"Our research has shown clear differences between learning styles as a whole, but also between age groups and industry sectors. A classroom-led approach is no longer the de-facto way to learn, with people often becoming more engaged if the same content is delivered via different methods.

"We recommend companies take a blended approach to learning and use different platforms (classroom-based sessions, elearning, mobile learning) within their training programmes to ensure learning is accessible and valuable to all staff. Not only will this improve staff productivity and engagement, but less reliance on a classroom-style setting could also significantly reduce costs and travel time."

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TJ Award winner shortlisted for women of the year

A TJ Award winner has been announced on the shortlist for women of the year, with the winner honoured at this year's Women 1st Shine Awards 2013. 

Michelle Moore, head of people development at Elior UK, led her business to win best customer service programme of the year at last year's TJ Awards. And now, her efforts have seen her land a place on the shortlist for this year's women of the year.

The Women 1st Shine Awards recognise outstanding female and diversity achievement in the hospitality, passenger transport, and travel and tourism industries. Each year, the Women 1st Shine Awards celebrate the brightest and best individuals who are paving the way for women across these industries and the organisations that are embracing diversity as a true business benefit. 

This year's winners will be announced during a gala dinner on 19 June 2013 at the Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square in central London, following the second annual Women 1st Conference.

The evening will also see 25 inspirational women inducted into the Women 1st Top 100 Club which recognises the most influential women in the hospitality, passenger transport, and travel and tourism industries.

The shortlist for award recognition is as follows: 

Woman of the year

• Jenny Body OBE - President-Elect, Royal Aeronautical Society

• Julie Moore - managing director, Green Gourmet Ltd.

• Michele Moore - head of people development, Elior UK

• Margot Slattery - managing director, Sodexo 

• Carrie Wicks - operations director, Firmdale Hotels Plc

Women 1st was founded by sector skills council People 1st to support women in achieving their career aspirations in the hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism industry.  As well as running the Women 1st Shine Awards and Top 100 Club, it offers continuing professional development training, a mentoring programme and networking events. Women 1st have supported over 1000 women since its launch in October 2009.

Sharon Glancy, founder of Women 1st, said: "Nominations for the Women 1st Shine Awards 2013 were very well supported with an increase in numbers since last year. The most competitive categories were Stepping Up and Rising Star both in terms of the numbers of nominations and the quality of the submissions. This made it very tough for the judges to arrive at the final shortlist.  The Women 1st Shine Awards on May 19th promises to be a very exciting networking event and a great celebration of the outstanding women in our industry."

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John Lewis to train next generation of IT leaders in the business

Retailer John Lewis today announced it is to recruit more than 100 apprentices for its 2013/2014 retail apprenticeship programme.

Now in its second year, the one-year retail scheme focuses on young people and guarantees that everyone who successfully completes their training will secure employment with the retailer. It follows on from the 80 apprenticeship places John Lewis recruited in 2012 on its first ever apprenticeship programme. The company will also launch a technology apprenticeship aimed at training the next generation of IT and systems leaders in the business.

Apprentices for the retail scheme are being recruited for 25 of the retailer' s 39 shops in England, Scotland and Wales, including its flagship Oxford Street department store. They will join the business in September and will be based across a variety of selling departments in branches. Apprentices on the technology scheme will be based in John Lewis's head office and will work with the retailer's IT teams. 

The retail programme features two levels; the Intermediate Apprenticeship Scheme (Level 2), for those who have left school at the age of 16, and the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme (Level 3) for young people who have already completed their A-Levels. Both are one year programmes and if completed successfully, apprentices on the Intermediate will be rewarded with GCSE standard qualifications and those on the advanced scheme, qualifications at an A-level standard.   

Laura Whyte, personnel director at John Lewis, said: "Last year's apprentices have hit the ground running, and the programme has been a huge success for the business. It's fantastic that we can increase the number of new recruits by 25 per cent for the second year, in line with the targets we set. Our aim for the programme has always been to give young people a genuine alternative to university and importantly, provide them with the skills and knowledge to set them on the path for a long-term career in retail. We'll be working closely with our current apprentices over the coming months to support them as they complete the programme and then look towards the next stage of their career progression." 

The technology apprenticeship is an 18 month level three scheme supported by training provider, QA Apprenticeships. Apprentices will join one of the retailer's IT teams and be assigned to project teams, whilst also completing a number of Java Programming courses and ongoing work-based training. At the very start of the apprenticeship scheme, they will also spend two weeks working on the shop floor at one of the retailer's London shops to develop a solid understanding of the world of retail. 

Paul Coby, IT Director, at John Lewis, said: "The technology apprenticeship has long been an ambition of mine since I joined the business in early 2011. We' re seeing a real skills gap in young people where IT and technology are concerned, and as a keen investor in talent we've recognised that this needs to be addressed as we strive to become a leading omni-channel retailer. We recognise the importance of technological innovation and the apprentices we take on will be crucial in helping us to achieve our goal. Looking ahead, we hope to be able to increase the intake for the following year's scheme."  

Interested candidates should be on course to achieve A to C grades in their A-levels and have a keen interest in technology as well as the wider retail business. There are five places available on the 2013/2014 Technology Apprenticeship programme and successful applicants will join the business in September. Applications open on 20th May.

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Digital skills vital for employability, BCS say

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, will outline the importance of IT vocational qualifications at the European Computer Driving Licence Forum being held in the UK this week. 

The International Forum sees members from all over the globe converge on London to discuss IT skills in relation to employability and digital literacy.

The ECDL Forum provides a platform for discussion about the internationally recognised qualification which more than12 million people have registered for across the globe. In the UK, the Institute last year reported a growth in the number of learners achieving ECDL certificates across all learning establishments from community hubs through schools and colleges to independent training providers.

The Institute's group chief executive officer, David Clarke MBE, said: "More than 90 per cent of job adverts in the UK require applicants to be digitally literate. We take it for granted that people can use a computer, smartphone, tablet, but employers want proof, and IT vocational qualifications can help provide this and give an individual a competitive edge when applying for jobs."

Richard French, BCS director of education policy who will also address the conference, added: "Digital skills, and digital literacy, are very important for everyone at all stages of life. We believe that IT vocational qualifications can help individuals gain the confidence and understanding they need to enable them to fully take part in our society whether it is work, leisure or interacting with government services."

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Carillion chooses eLearning to equip 9,000 staff with soft skills

Integrated support services company Carillion has introduced 53 eLearning courses from interactive training specialist Engage in Learning, to equip 9,000 of its UK staff with the soft skills and personal development they need to do their jobs.

Covering communication skills, personal effectiveness, influencing, leadership and teamwork, coaching, customer service and managing high performance, the new eLearning courses were introduced after Carillion had undertaken a nine-month, in-depth evaluation. 

"When we were looking for a cost-efficient way to develop the soft skills of our employees, the obvious answer was to grow our eLearning capability," said Nick Chammings, eLearning business partner at Carillion. 

"We're committed to sustainability, and reducing our carbon footprint, so we didn't want people having to travel across the country for classroom training."

The new eLearning courses feature practical tips and techniques, interactive exercises and video clips. 

"Engage in Learning's courses combine interactivity, humour and storytelling to create engaging and memorable learning," 

He added: "They're easy to use, the instructional design is very strong and they can make a practical difference to performance. Also, the founders of Engage in Learning really understand eLearning, having been in the industry from the very beginning, and they also appreciate the challenges that an organisation like ours faces. To be able to tap into their expertise has been invaluable." 

Many of Engage in Learning's courses have an interactive eBook, which summarises the eLearning content and enables learners to create their own notes and action plans. Designed to help learners transfer their skills and knowledge to the workplace, the eBooks can be read on smartphones and tablet computers.

Carillion identifies employee training needs through one-to-one discussions, and annual appraisals, and it encourages each employee to create their own personal development plan. 

"Our people have a responsibility for their own development.

"They can access the Engage in Learning courses to meet their needs at their own pace, wherever and whenever is most convenient for them. We'll also recommend specific courses to support certain strategic business objectives. We can even create our own blended learning programmes, with very little additional effort on our part, by combining specific course content and eBook materials with webinars," he concluded.

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CIPD: Businesses must learn to buck declining job satisfaction trend

The CIPD is urging businesses to consider how they can improve job satisfaction and employee engagement.

That's after the 2012 skills and employment survey published by the Government, reveals that Britain's employees are feeling more insecure and under pressure at work than at any time the past 20 years

According to the CIPD's quarterly Employee Outlook survey, which asks more than 2,000 UK employees about their attitudes to working life, engagement levels in the voluntary sector have jumped in recent months, despite prolonged job insecurity in the sector. 

The survey found that engagement amongst third sector employees is driven not only by an affinity to their organisation's core purpose, where the voluntary sector might be expected to have an edge, but more importantly by open and honest management teams and cultures of mutual trust and respect, where the private at public sectors have no reason at all to lag their voluntary counterparts.

Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said: "The decline in job satisfaction and employee engagement revealed by the Government's Skills and Employment Survey makes for worrying reading for businesses, the economy and wider society.

"But CIPD research shows that the voluntary sector appears to be bucking this trend, with valuable lessons to be learned for the private and public sectors. Nevertheless, we need to take the findings of the Government's latest survey very seriously indeed. Too many recent and spectacular failures - from the banking crisis to public sector scandals like that affecting the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust - are almost entirely born of problems of culture.  

He added: "Although profoundly different in many ways, they have common roots in issues of trust, empowerment and engagement. What's good for people is good for business - and if we can embrace that truth to build cultures in which people want to work and are unified by a common purpose, we can not only prevent catastrophes, we can truly build more sustainable economic growth."

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Skills system failing London, new report reveals

The current approach to skills is failing the capital and more jobs would be created and growth boosted by devolving skills powers and resources to London boroughs, according to a new report. 

London Councils, which represents London's 33 local authorities, has published London's Skills Challenge, which looks at the capital's skills needs and the role  London's boroughs should play in ensuring skills provision meets the needs of London's businesses and communities.

The report argues that the current skills system is failing to address the capital's employment problem. London's employment rate lags behind the UK average, despite government spending of £550 million a year on skills. Almost a quarter of vacancies in London are due to skills shortages, according to employers - with a lack of provision in growth areas like marketing, sales and the creative and cultural industries. 

Chancellor Peter John, executive member for skills and employment at London Councils, said: "The report clearly shows that locally-led schemes are the most efficient way of delivering local skills for local jobs. 

"The government should provide better help for less money by devolving power down." 

The report outlines a number of measures to address the issue. These include devolving powers and resources to boroughs or groups of boroughs, improving awareness amongst jobseekers of the skills employers need most, and incentivising skills providers to offer training for the jobs most in-demand by businesses.

A tailored and responsive approach is needed to address the huge diversity in employment rates and skills needs across the capital.

London's economic output is the same size as that of Sweden's and it has a population as large as Switzerland's. The capital's economy varies hugely - from finance in the City, to distribution and transport in West London, tourism and leisure in the West End and emerging technological industries in East London. London's boroughs are best placed to help skills providers respond to this diversity and provide the right skills where they are needed. 

"Boroughs are well placed to act as intermediaries between businesses, skills providers and jobseekers - they are involved in local regeneration projects which create new jobs, they understand their local employment hubs and communities, and they have good links with local businesses and Jobcentres, as well as a strong record in aligning skills with local need," John concluded. 

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Association of Employment and Learning providers appoints new leader

The body that represents the skills and employability providers who train over 70 per cent of the country's 700,000 apprentices has a new leader.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has announced the appointment of the new chief executive officer Stewart Segal. Segal will replace the current CEO Graham Hoyle OBE who is retiring in August, having played a major role in developing AELP so that it is now a leading voice in the skills and employment markets.  

Segal has worked in the government funded training sector for nearly 20 years in a range of senior executive roles, including CEO of a large national training provider.  

Speaking about his new appointment, Stewart Segal said: "I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead AELP. AELP has made tremendous progress over the last few years in building the credibility of independent training providers in the FE and skills sector.  I hope I can play my part in taking that forward over the next few years as we face the current challenges within the sector.  

"We know that there is pressure on government funding but we are now seeing an apprenticeship programme that is getting the recognition and credibility that it deserves.   These major improvements have been delivered by effective professional training providers responding to employer and learner needs.  That is what will drive even further improvements in the sector.  I am very confident that we will continue to ensure that training providers can deliver welfare-to-work and skills programmes that will support the drive for economic and social success."

Segal has identified the following main policy objectives for AELP when he takes up his new post, which is consistent with the association's current policy direction:

• Ensuring transparency and fairness so customers  understand the system and to allow providers to plan provision

• Maximising customer choice by ensuring that there is a level playing field for all providers

• Focusing on the quality of outcomes and

• Integrating the procurement of post-16 employment and skills provision to increase the number of people securing sustainable employment. 

Segal started his working career in HR and Training in Ford Motor Company.  He held a number of senior management roles in Ford and Grand Metropolitan moving from training related jobs to general management roles.  In 1995, he joined Hertfordshire Training and Enterprise Council as chief executive.  The TECs were the private sector government funding agencies and Segal gained valuable experience of how funding allocations were managed.  

AELP Chairman Martin Dunford OBE said: "We conducted a very thorough search and selection process which attracted an extremely high calibre field of over fifty candidates and the AELP Board and I am delighted that Stewart is taking over as CEO.  He has extensive experience of direct delivery of training as well as his knowledge of the policymaking roles of the key stakeholders.  This is a challenging time for training providers with reducing budgets and a range of reviews and recommendations on the future of skills funding while the effectiveness of the Work Programme is also under scrutiny.  

"Stewart has been involved in the major improvements made in the sector in terms of responsiveness and quality and we know he will take that agenda forward.  AELP has an important role to play in shaping the skills and employment agenda for the future and Stewart will work with our partners to ensure that we remain focused on delivering high quality training provision to employers and learners."

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Call centres should change the way they develop staff, claims Hemsley Fraser

Call centres have an opportunity to make a real difference through the way they develop their staff, as the traditional approach to training does not equip people to have the kind of interactions which customers value and find rewarding.

That's according to a new white paper from learning and development firm Hemsley Fraser.

In 'The call centre customer experience: Behaviours that make the difference' ' Hemsley Fraser claims that the current practice, based on conventional approaches to customer service training, often leads to customer conversations which lack any emotional or personal engagement. Training interventions, focusing on generic tips and scripted customer interactions, have to evolve into learning that focuses on the key behaviours needed when dealing with customers, such as creating genuine personal connections, establishing trust and first-time resolution. 

Hemsley Fraser's paper provides guidelines on how to design an engaging learning experience that will enable organisations to develop a distinctive and differentiated experience for their customers which, in turn, will deliver business benefits. 

"Call centres may have explicit processes and metrics in place but unless key behaviours have been defined and embedded, the customer experience will often be inconsistent because those behaviours will vary from individual to individual," said Wendy Brooks, director of Hemsley Fraser and author of the new paper. 

"The behaviour of call centre staff can not only be a major source of differentiation, it can also impact on bottom line business results by creating customer loyalty and advocacy." 

To fit in with the pattern and demands of call centre work, Hemsley Fraser argues that a flexible modular learning programme is needed, focusing on key behaviours which can be applied immediately in the workplace. 

"To instil the key behaviours that will make a difference, learning needs to be imaginative and compelling, so that people become excited and enthusiastic about what they can do for customers.

"We're all customers and we all know how we'd like to be treated. Call centre teams need to understand that, when they interact with customers, the nuances of their behaviour can make the biggest possible difference."

Hemsley Fraser argues that by investing in learning that develops key behaviours for customers, call centres can also enrich the employee experience.

"You can motivate employees and improve customer satisfaction by equipping people with the skills and the confidence to behave in certain ways with customers. Showing employees that you value them, and how important they are to customers, can enhance their level of engagement and reduce staff turnover," she concluded.

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Agile organisations more likely to experience growth, research claims

Organisations are placing too much emphasis on cost reduction and not enough importance on initiatives to fuel growth, according to new research from transformation consultancy Moorhouse.

The 2013 Barometer on Change finds that more than half (54 per cent) of organisations have initiatives in place to reduce costs, compared to just 22 per cent with initiatives aimed at improving performance. And worryingly, Less than a fifth (19 per cent) claimed to be addressing new products or services. 

Organisations that have experienced higher growth in recent years (cumulative annual growth of above five per cent) are more likely to have initiatives in place that engage staff or pursue growth. In comparison, organisations that have been less successful are more likely to be focused primarily on cost reduction. Those that remain agile and view themselves as "pro-change" are almost twice as likely to experience higher growth, compared to organisations which see themselves as "anti-change".

Stephen Vinall, managing director of Moorhouse, said: "Some UK businesses have become stuck in a mindset of cost reduction and internal efficiency drives with little focus on initiatives that will generate their competitive edge and position them well for growth. To achieve growth, organisations must look beyond cost cutting and at investing in the kinds of initiatives that will help support this ambition, such as accessing new markets or tackling regulatory-driven change. Savings being generated by cost reduction should be reinvested in these kinds of activities to help safeguard the future of the business."

Nine out of ten organisations in the survey may have strategies that are trying to achieve conflicting goals: a staggering 90 per cent claim to be differentiating themselves around at least two of the following competing priorities; creating the best products, having a highly efficient operation or being entirely customer-centric. Yet the initiatives they are focusing on as a business do not reflect this, and it is rare that organisations can be successful at more than one of these ambitions simultaneously.

"Organisations are pulling themselves in opposing directions. A business cannot deliver the most bespoke service available to its customers while also being the most highly efficient; nor focus on either of these while developing the best products. You can't be an Apple or Dyson while also being a Tesco or easyjet. To differentiate themselves clearly, organisations should pick one of these areas and make excelling in this their strategic priority that their change initiatives then clearly support. Whatever their context, every business has to be adept at turning its strategy into a realistic and achievable portfolio of programmes or initiatives," he concluded. 

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Quantity of people learning in decline, survey finds

The amount of young people taking part in learning has fallen by seven per cent in the last year, according to the annual NIACE adult participation in learning survey.

Ahead of Adult Learners' Week next week, The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education's yearly report has shown a decline in the number of people aged 17-to 24 taking part in learning. There has also been a fall of six per in the proportion of unemployed people participating in learning. 

Introducing the findings, David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, said: "What is particularly worrying is the fall in the number of young people who are taking part in, or even considering, learning. If these young people can't see the positive impact learning can have on their lives then it suggests a 'creeping hopelessness' amongst them which could have lifetime consequences on their confidence, self esteem and life chances. Add this to the increasing number of those who are not in learning who say they will not learn in future and the picture looks extremely bleak indeed. We look forward to seeing what impact the raising of the participation age to 18 has on this.

While the headline figures show no change in the overall level of participation from last year's findings - around one in five (19 per cent) adults are currently learning, and two in five (38 per cent) have done so in the last three years - the survey for 2013 shows that:

• There has been a substantial fall - of nine per cent (from 88 to 79 per cent) - in the number of young adults (aged 17- to 19) participating in learning;

• There is also a fall of five percentage points in learning for those aged 20- to 24 from 70- to 65 per cent;

• The proportion of unemployed adults taking part in learning has fallen by 6 percentage points from 41 to 35 per cent, the lowest level since the survey series began in 1996;

• There has been an increase in participation among part-time workers - from 42 per cent in 2012 to 48 per cent this year - who are now more likely to participate than those working full-time (44 per cent); and

• Current participation in learning remains a key indicator of future intentions to learn. Over four-fifths (83 per cent) of those who have not taken part in learning since leaving full-time education say they are unlikely to do so in the future.

"There needs to be an effective strategy to reverse the big decline in the numbers of young people who are learning. For a start it is great news to see the impact Apprenticeships are having on people of all ages. We are also pleased that Traineeships have been announced for 16- to 18 year-olds but they need to be extended to, at least, those aged up to 24.

He added: "The Government needs to do two things to make sure Traineeships work. Firstly, high quality work placement opportunities are crucial. Secondly, young people need to be able to either access benefits, or be paid a wage, whilst on Traineeships. We are also calling on employers to play their part in this.  Young people deserve the kind of opportunities which will motivate them and help them gain the skills, confidence and ambition they need to overcome the hopelessness they may be feeling that there aren't jobs for them."

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SSP launches degree programme for managers

Food travel experts SSP have announced the launch of a new level of their training programme which will allow its high-flying managers to complete a foundation degree. 

The level five programme was announced earlier this week as 21 of the company's employees celebrated achieving a level four certificate in professional development awarded by Coventry University. 

The bespoke programme has been developed in partnership with Acua Solutions Limited (a group company of Coventry University), to meet SSP's specific business needs and it will mean that the company's future stars will have the opportunity to achieve a recognised qualification from a leading educational institution. 

The degree programme is comprised of three stages. The first nine-month long element (level four) is targeted at assistant unit managers and unit managers. This is then followed by the newly launched twelve month diploma programme (level five) designed to develop unit managers and those at multi-unit manager level. The final stage will provide students with the required university points to achieve a foundation degree.  

The course covers a range of leadership and management skills, and the study is comprised of both on-the-job training with the student's manager, as well as input and coaching from specialists at Acua Solutions Limited and SSP's own learning and development managers. 

Martin Walder, head of learning and development at SSP UK said; "This is a hugely significant step as it means we can now provide a clearly defined training pathway, taking team members from their first apprentice role and supporting them as their career advances through to senior management. It will play a major part in helping us to attract and retain talent, developing the best people by offering the best programmes. It has already really boosted the appetite for learning throughout our business - our next course is already oversubscribed."

Jeannine Mortlock, managing director of Acua Solutions Limited, said the new venture was evidence of SSP's commitment to aligning management development programmes to accredited qualification. 

"'As well as helping SSP UK to be seen as an employer of choice, investing in the career progression of its employees will also result in the company being able to deliver even better service, which can only be good for business," she said. 

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Capita acquires managed learning services provider, KnowledgePool

Capita plc has announced that it has acquired KnowledgePool Group Ltd, a managed learning services provider, for an undisclosed sum. 

The announcement comes a week after Capita purchased another L&D firm, Blue Sky Performance.

KnowledgePool provides learning managed services, including its three core service components of supplier management, training administration and learning consultancy. Its clients, which include Lloyds Banking Group, Aviva, Virgin Media and Ford, benefit from KnowledgePool's ability to manage all learning activity and operations through a single channel that maximises return on training investment.

Chris Sharp, managing director for Capita's learning and development business, said: "KnowledgePool provides a world-class service that aligns learning with business objectives to improve performance and deliver results. Customers also benefit from access to over 2,500 international suppliers, bespoke e-learning and its ability to deliver efficiencies and evaluate return on investment. 

"This acquisition further enhances Capita's capability to support organisations to meet regulatory training requirements and develop the knowledge and skills of their workforce."  

Al Bird, managing director for KnowledgePool, said: "Clients will continue to benefit from our passion for delivering efficient learning management while also benefiting from an increased depth of capabilities. 

"Our TrainerAdvisor knowledgebase will ensure we continue to objectively match each client's learning requirements to the most appropriate provider and delivery medium for optimal outcomes.  We look forward to working together to deliver further value for existing and prospective clients and to lead the next stages of KnowledgePool's innovation and growth."

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Employers urged to maintain training despite budget cuts

To mark Learning at Work Day, the Campaign for Learning and the Chartered Management Institute are today calling for a renewed focus on developing managers and leaders. 

Although training budgets are under pressure, the two organisations believe that management development should not - and need not - be neglected.

This year's Learning at Work Day theme; 'Many Ways to Learn' promotes the advantage of thinking more broadly and creatively about how management development can be achieved.

Ann Francke, chief executive, Chartered Management Institute, said: "Businesses perform 23 per cent better when they invest in developing their managers and leaders so Learning at Work Day is the perfect time for managers to think about improving their own and their team's effectiveness.

"Slashed budgets might be making formal learning impossible for many, but employers can still nurture a workplace learning culture. Create a coaching network so employees have someone to help them develop from the start of their careers, for example. Or look at how online learning resources can be provided on-demand for managers when they need them most. Simple and cost-effective changes can bring huge benefits.

"Despite a tough labour market, nearly two thirds of employers are still struggling with staff recruitment. Most blame a lack of skilled candidates so for individuals, a renewed focus on learning and development could lead to a promotion or a new role. Managers have identified strategic decision making, change management and negotiation skills as priorities."

Tricia Hartley, chief executive of the Campaign for Learning, the national co-ordinators of Learning at Work Day, said: "As training departments and budgets are reduced, we are seeing an increasing demand for managers to lead on learning. Managers will need a range of skills to do this effectively, from identifying learning needs amongst their team members to supporting individuals to reach their potential. They may also need to deliver learning and training, which will require further sets of skills. Focusing on manager development will ensure they are able to fulfil these roles in addition to the high number of performance-related targets they have to deal with and the day-to-day challenges that occur within the workplace."

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CMI and ABS to help boost graduates practical skills

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has announced that it is to work with the Association of Business Schools (ABS) to close the gap between British business schools and managers.

That's following a new report published today which shows how better alignment could boost the employability of business school graduates - and make a significant difference to economic growth. 

The report from the ABS and the Innovation Task Force - The Role of UK Business Schools in Driving Innovation in the Domestic Economy - details six areas for practical action which include: designing practice into courses, bringing more practitioners into faculties, and improving the way the impact of research is measured. CMI contributed to the report and will be working with ABS to make these recommendations a reality by: 

• Rolling out a review of the management curriculum working with the CMI's Regional Boards, comprised of managers from all sectors of the local economy, and their local business schools. 

• Encouraging business schools to draw case studies from the local business community and facilitate access to these.

• Exploring how business schools can adopt a more practical approach to management education, which includes incorporating Chartered Manager into the MBA curriculum as a part of a 'practical MBA'; this requires students to demonstrate and measure their positive impact on an organisation in the world of work through a 'real world' management project. 

• Facilitating real-world 'mentors' for students with local businesses and organisations. 

Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: "CMI welcomes this report which highlights innovative practices that help students engage with the real world of management and improves their employability.  Yet despite these pockets of excellence, far too many business schools aren't providing the practical management skills and access to employers that really will improve students' job prospects.  

"We are delighted to be working with the Association of Business Schools to put the key recommendations from this report into action. By implementing these measures we will enhance business school students' practical management knowledge, improve their satisfaction and ultimately create better, more employable managers as graduates."

Today's report is a response to questions raised by Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, on how effectively academic and scientific innovation in the UK translates into practice and commercial success, and  long-standing concerns about the education of British managers. It provides specific guidance for business schools and universities, for faculty and students, and for the government.

Professor Angus Laing, dean of the School of business and economics at Loughborough University and chairman of the Association of Business Schools said: "I wholeheartedly welcome CMI's support for the critically important task of helping business schools align with management priorities. Today's independent report provides a robust evidence base to inform both policy in respect of supporting economic growth and practice within the business school community. 

"There is much work for the ABS, our members, government, business, funders and other stakeholder bodies to do to respond to deliver the culture change recommended. Reigniting growth in the aftermath of the global financial crisis remains a national priority and business schools have the potential to play a very significant role as local economic anchor institutions."

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Voluntary sector sees jump in engagement scores, CIPD index reveals

More than half (55 per cent) of employees in the voluntary sector feel engaged at work, compared with 41 per cent last quarter, despite a backdrop of increasing redundancies.

That's according to the CIPD's Employee Engagement Index which shows that employees in the third sector are reporting improved job satisfaction. That's compared with engagement levels of 37 per cent in the private sector, where eight per cent of workers expect redundancies ahead, and 33 per cent engagement levels in the public sector, where 28 per cent of workers report plans for redundancies in their organisations.

The quarterly Employee Outlook, which surveyed employees across all sectors about their attitudes to working life, found that engagement in the voluntary sector is driven not only by an affinity to the organisation's core purpose, but more importantly by open and honest management teams and cultures of mutual trust and respect.

The survey found that voluntary sector workers:

• Enjoy the highest rating of job satisfaction (a net score of +52, compared with +25 in public sector and +45 in private sector)

• Are aware of what is happening in their organisations (68 per cent compared with 51 per cent in public sector and 53 per cent in private sector)

• Are the most attuned to their organisations' core values and purpose (+40 compared with +1 in public sector and +32 in private sector)

• Have the most confidence in their ability to feed their views upwards (50 per cent compared with 36 per cent in public sector and 45 per cent in private sector).

• Are most likely to achieve the right work-life balance (61 per cent compared with 55 per cent in public sector and 57 per cent in the private sector).

Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, said:  "It would be easy to attribute strong engagement scores in the voluntary sector to employees' affinity to their organisation's charitable purpose, but our survey suggests that quality of management is a principal driving factor behind high levels of job satisfaction and employee engagement despite prolonged job insecurity.  

"The data from the voluntary sector gives us some hints on how to engage staff through leadership - at all levels of the organisation - and provides some good practice that both the private and public sectors can learn from. More employees in the voluntary sector agree that they know clearly what the purpose of the organisation is, but also that they can feed their views upwards. Positive communication practices could explain why more employees in the voluntary sector understand the organisation's core purpose, are motivated by it and are less likely to be looking for a different job.

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Organisations unprepared for cultural changes, study finds

Organisations are not adequately prepared for the cultural changes that will occur as executives from the baby boomer generation retire and are replaced by their generation x and y counterparts, a study has found.

The study, After the baby boomers: the next generation of leadership, by Odgers Berndtson, the executive search firm, in conjunction with Cass Business School, part of City University London, was conducted by interviewing senior executives across a wide range of industries and geographies.

Richard Boggis-Rolfe, chairman of Odgers Berndtson, said: "The retirement of the current generation of corporate leaders will lead to cultural changes that most organisations are unprepared for. In order to thrive in the post-baby boomer landscape, companies need to put serious thought and effort into smoothing the intergenerational transition for leaders from generations X and Y."

Only 41 per cent of respondents believed that their organisations are ready for changing workplace demographics of age, gender and diversity. It was suggested that companies should ease the transition to the next generation of leaders, by the current generation stepping back and focusing on mentoring up-and-coming executives. 

Many respondents said that the retirement of baby boomers from leadership positions would result in a mass exodus of talent over the next 20 years, which will intensify the global war for talent among existing executives.

Although the retirement of baby boomers will lead to a loss of some skills from the workforce, the next generation of leaders will bring their own skillsets to bear on the marketplace. 

Foremost among the new leadership skills will be emotional intelligence, people skills and flexibility, which will be needed to attract and motivate a more diverse and mobile workforce. This more collaborative form of leadership will be key to helping executives navigate the 21st century workforce. 

Corporate leaders will also need greater diverse cultural awareness due to the increasing economic importance of the BRIC and Next11 countries to many of the companies surveyed. Already, S&P 500 companies derive nearly half of their revenue from international sources and, for many, international revenues are growing faster than their core revenues.

The ability to speak foreign languages, partly as a proxy for cultural awareness, will be increasingly important. A staggering 85 per cent of respondents believe that being able to speak foreign languages will be more valuable to future executives than past ones.

Professor Cliff Oswick, deputy dean of Cass Business School, said: "The increasing diversity of the global workforce will need to be taken into account by corporate leaders. Cultural awareness will be at a premium and leaders will have to cultivate emotional intelligence and be better attuned to gender differences." 

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Managers positive about progress post-recession, Ashridge claim

A new study of management opinion reveals that 84 per cent of managers are upbeat and say their organisation is well placed to survive and thrive post-recession. 

The Ashridge Management Index (AMI) 2012/13, carried out by Ashridge Business School, is a barometer of workplace opinion which assesses the attitudes of more than 1,100 managers in key areas of working life.

But while the leadership outlook is generally positive, the report also identifies worrying shortfalls in communications, succession planning, virtual working practices and trust. For example, excellent communication skills are essential to effective leadership, but respondents indicate that top managers need to communicate more often and more clearly. Only 49 per cent of top leaders spend enough time communicating with staff, and just 52 per cent of top leaders are rated for communicating clearly.

Another cause for concern is that many businesses are failing to future-proof their leadership teams, with 48 per cent of managers say their organisation is not doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders. 

Viki Holton, research fellow, Ashridge Business School, and AMI co-author, said: "Talent management programmes and succession planning are essential. Without investment in developing the skills and experiences of younger managers it is hard to see how such organisations will continue to be successful. Businesses are at risk of holding back economic recovery by failing to do enough to develop the next generation of leaders." 

Managers' roles have changed radically dramatically since the first Ashridge Management Index was published in the 1990s. A key trend is the growth of virtual teams - most (77 per cent) say that increasingly they are required to manage cross-functional and virtual teams.  However, only 45 per cent feel that their organisation provides sufficient support for virtual team-working. 

Furthermore, levels of work/life balance indicate that many managers continue to operate in a demanding, pressured work environment. The majority of respondents work longer than 48 hours each week and most managers (64 per cent) say they regularly take work home. 

Fiona Dent, director of executive education, Ashridge Business School, said: "There are signs of strain and pressure for many managers. One recommendation is to develop resilience among staff. Resilient people are more able to maintain a steady course when the economic, political and psychological weather deteriorates.  Approaches to develop resilience include training and development, and establishing strong support networks. 

"One way of gaining competitive advantage is by boosting employee performance through training and leadership programmes. While many managers say sufficient time is allocated to their own learning and development, less than half say enough time is allocated for team development. This suggests that more companies need to adopt a more strategic approach to team development, not just individual development."

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John Laing Integrated Services puts people first

Service providers John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) has been presented with a national award for its commitment to employee engagement and continuous improvement.   

JLIS, which provides a suite of operational services to the public sector and has more than 1,100 employees, has been awarded the Investors in People Silver award for the way it has improved business performance through the support and motivation of its employees. 

Tim Grier, managing director at JLIS, said: "JLIS has held Investors in People accreditation since 2007 and I am delighted that we have now achieved Investors in People Silver.  Our employees are our greatest asset and this award demonstrates our commitment to investing in our employees by creating a culture of learning and development, engagement and empowerment".     

The Silver award has been awarded to fewer than 600 organisations in the country, which is just 2.82 per cent of all organisations awarded with the Investors in People Standard. The Standard is a framework of good practice, awarded to well-run organisations that meet set criteria such as learning and development, leadership skills and recognition and reward of staff amongst others.

John Telfer, managing director of Inspiring Business Performance Ltd (IBP), the organisation that delivers Investors in People for London and the South, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for John Laing Integrated Services and clearly shows that continual improvement and development is a top priority."

"Over a third of the UK's workforce uses Investors in People today, and this is because of the many benefits that being Investors in People accredited can bring. Once key decision makers implement changes for the better, the effects can often be seen across all areas of an organisation."

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Regional VP welcomes move to introduce degrees at work

The decision by retailer John Lewis to offer its staff the chance to study for degrees under a work-based scheme will lead to "numerous benefits" .

That's according to Colette Wade, regional vice president, marketing & business development, Cornerstone OnDemand, who has praised the work John Lewis has done in bringing this initiative forward.  She believes that it will lead to more engaged employees in the future. 

"With UK university applicants declining, more organisations need to be following John Lewis' example and setting up vocational qualification programmes in-house - gone are the days of relying on universities to develop the countries future industry leaders," she said.

"It's no surprise that the tripling of tuition fees is having a negative effect on university applications. To avoid a skills shortage and stifling UK growth industry we need to become more innovative in terms of how we develop people." 

"By taking the time to introduce a programme that invests in employees futures, John Lewis will build employee engagement and productivity in their organisation. There are numerous benefits to this, for example, engaged employees are more likely to want their organisation to grow and therefore are more likely to ensure they are working hard to maintain the reputation of the brand and to increase revenue. 

She added: "This is supported by a recent report by New Century Financial Corporation which found that teams which were 'actively disengaged' produced 28 per cent less revenue, highlighting the importance of employee engagement. Therefore, if more organisations can introduce schemes in the same ilk as the "John Lewis University" and subsequently increase employee engagement, output will increase to the benefit of the UK economy".

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kallidus achieves Investors in People accreditation

Talent management solutions provider Kallidus has achieved the Investors in People (IiP) accreditation. 

IiP is the UK's people management standard and helps organisations to improve business performance through their people. For Kallidus, the accolade represents a commitment to the development of its employees and demonstrates a strong foundation of good practice to clients. 

In order to secure the accreditation, evidence was gathered and assessed via employee interviews carried out by an IiP assessor. Kallidus joins an exclusive group of UK employers eligible to use the sought after IiP logo and enjoy the benefits it offers.

Speaking about the award, Carole Laithwaite, chief operations officer at Kallidus said: "Investors in People accreditation is a major boost to Kallidus and recognises the focus and professionalism of our talented and committed team. We are looking forward to further building on our core strengths to ensure the continuing development and improvement of our business."

IiP offers a practical, flexible and easy to use framework for improving business productivity, performance and competitiveness in organisations of all types and sizes through good practice in people management. An organisation that has achieved IiP accreditation has been successful in adopting and maintaining the fundamental principles set out in the framework. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has strategic ownership of the IiP framework. IiP is part of the UK Commission's ambition to improve skills, employment and productivity across the UK.

Rob Caul, CEO of Kallidus, said: "This is a great achievement for the whole of Kallidus and demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement. The accreditation not only helps to sharpen our competitive edge but will provide us with a strong framework for best practice and achieving our ambitious goals for the business moving forwards." 

"The Kallidus mission is to help organisations develop their talent and therefore Investors in People accreditation clearly demonstrates that we too are committed to maximising our performance by investing in our people."

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TJ Awards 2013 announce the judging panel

With interest in the TJ Awards 2013 growing with each week TJ is delighted to announce its panel of judges for 2013. A broad mix of experience is brought together to present a robust panel ready to assess the entries with independence and rigour.

Commenting on the release of the new judging panel for 2013, Debbie Carter TJ Awards co-ordinator and director of research said: "I am delighted to have so many experts and practitioners as part of the judging panel this year. We aim to have an independent and robust judging process in place and I'm confident that this year's panel will deliver on all levels.

"Judging demands a lot of time and effort and I'm very grateful to all those who are judging the awards for us this year. The level of commitment shows the high regard in which TJ and its awards' programme is held in the L&D, training and coaching community."

With three new categories introduced this year there are some new faces among the judges, including Linda Holbeche and Martin Saville who will be responsible for the new OD category, Margaret Burnside and David Goddin judges in the mentoring category and  Mike Collins and Andy Ralphs who take on the contact centres group.

Other new judges for 2013 are: Clare Forrest (Learning Partnership), Andrea Moffat (Operational), Shaun O'Brien (Learning Transfer), David Robertson (Leadership), Martyn Sloman (Apprenticeships), Richard Smith (Change Management) and Liz Webster (Not for Profit). To view the full list of judges click here. The closing date for entries is Monday 8th July to find out more about the awards and how to enter here.

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Collaborative approach to L&D is key to success, study finds

Some of the most popular learning and development interventions used in the workplace could actually be thwarting innovation.

That's according to the final report in a series of CIPD research insights on HR and its role in innovation, written in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bath, which looks at how innovation happens, who is responsible for making it happen and where it happens.

The latest report, The innovation imperative, launched at the CIPD' s annual learning and development conference, HRD, demonstrates how innovation comes in all shapes and sizes but, regardless of a company's approach to innovation, collaborative forms of learning and systematic approaches to knowledge sharing are the keys to success.

The researchers analysed more than 700 responses to the CIPD's 2012 Learning and Talent Development (L&TD) survey and identified five different profiles which describe an organisation's approach to innovation:

Distributed innovators: innovation is pushed down through the organisation to project teams, with high employee involvement and managers encouraged to promote innovationReluctant innovators: innovation is not seen as crucial to the organisation's futureTechnical innovators: innovation is seen as the focus of technical specialists and project workOpen innovators: innovation is based on improving processes with product design and development, with high manager and employee involvementManagerial innovators: innovation seen as a key priority driven by managers but with some employee involvement and external collaboration.

Across all five innovation profiles, many of the highest rated interventions in the CIPD's annual L&TD survey were perceived to frustrate and block innovation. The least effective methods of L&D for innovation were found to be in-house development programmes, internal knowledge sharing events and internal coaching, suggesting that insularity and staying in your own territory are not conducive to innovation. Collaboration within, across and outside the organisation was found to be the best way to develop an innovative culture, with job rotation and shadowing cited as the most effective L&D practices.

Dr. John McGurk, learning and talent development research adviser at the CIPD, said: "Formal education courses may be slightly out of vogue as a learning and development intervention, but for an innovation focus they may be crucial. External conferences, workshops and events are also important as they allow employees to 'bring the outside in'. 

"We concluded that those organisations identified as 'open innovators' and 'distributed innovators' could be described as role models, as they are most likely to display most or all of the key behaviours that drive innovation. These include treating innovation as part of business as usual, harnessing employee involvement, adopting a systematic approach, and embedding internal and external collaboration and networking. However, an organisation's approach to innovation depends on its size and industry sector, with SMEs more likely to be 'managerial innovators' for example."

In summary, the key insights for HR and L&D professionals drawn from the research are:

The critical role of management in innovation cannot be overstated. Managers who seek innovative behaviour in themselves and others will allow firms to harness more of the ideas, creative solutions and improvement suggestions which drive innovation.Employee involvement is essential for innovation, even if this is restricted to staff suggestion schemes.Innovation is both a powerful form of learning and is powered by learning. It is important to ensure that learning and development, OD, change management and other development interventions support the innovation imperative.Innovation is best designed as a systematic and project-based endeavour.Innovation is collaborative and networked, based on sharing knowledge and insights, and works best when people focus externally as well as internally.

"At its root, innovation is about learning and change, but also about leadership, decision-making and culture. We hope this report will help practitioners gauge their own organisation and help to drive innovation further in their own context.

"By considering the five profiles, L&D professionals can begin to build a compelling strategy to ensure that innovation takes off in their own organisation. It's important for HR, L&D and OD specialists to work closely with other business functions to create cultures of agility and continuous learning and improvement, to help organisations survive and thrive in these times of unprecedented change," he concluded.

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E-learning changing little in organisations, research reveals

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of organisations currently use e-learning, but only 15 per cent report that it is one of the most effective learning practices available to them.

And this gap will need to be closed if UK businesses are to keep up with the impact of globalisation and capitalise on the benefits of e-learning, such as improved connectivity and more flexibility in their ability to develop staff. This is a key finding in the latest CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand Learning and Talent Development survey 2013, which tracks changes in workplace learning and development practices.

Although the perception of e-learning (which includes methods such as online virtual learning, serious games and webinars) has improved over the past five years, there is some way to go before it is considered as effective as face-to-face training methods such as coaching by line managers (39 per cent) or in-house development programmes (48 per cent). And, despite widespread expectations in the 2011 Learning and Talent Development survey that e-learning would account for an increasing proportion of training time, the 2013 findings suggest e-learning has changed very little over the past two years.

The report released today finds that approximately two-fifths of organisations report that e-learning makes up less than 10 per cent of their total training time and just one in ten reports it makes up more than half of their total training time.

Dr John McGurk, learning and development adviser at CIPD and author of the report, said: "The globalisation of many businesses and the need for an agile and highly skilled workforce means that e-learning should be embraced as a vital tool for developing talent and capability across organisations. However, our research data suggests that UK businesses are not taking full advantage of the flexibility of e-learning and the networking opportunities it affords.

"Disappointing completion rates highlight that organisations need to do more to encourage their employees to take-up and finish existing e-learning courses. Low rates in the use of mobile learning packages and serious games also suggest that businesses could be doing more to keep up to date with the latest developments and remain relevant for today's workforce, many of whom embrace modern technology at home."

Worryingly, the use of mobile learning packages designed for smart phones has had very little take-up to date (with only 14 per cent of organisations reporting that they have used them regularly, frequently or occasionally). The use of serious games, for example games designed to test and develop learning through game scenarios, has also had low take up (with only 24 per cent of organisations reporting that they have used them regularly, frequently or occasionally) whereas older methods, such as podcasts and webinars have been more popular (49 per cent and 75 per cent respectively have used them regularly, frequently or occasionally).

Vincent Belliveau, senior vice president and general manager EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand, said: "People learn and absorb information in different ways and at different speeds. E-learning provides the flexibility to facilitate different learning needs and therefore it is surprising that more organisations are not embracing it. A misconception of e-learning is that it only suits training on compliance issues, such as health and safety regulations, data protection and financial regulations. However, this is not the case. We know it can support much wider forms of learning, such as leadership development and crisis management."

"My advice to professionals is to consider how e-learning methods could be exploited to support your employees in terms of engagement, productivity and efficiency. Newer technologies offer a great number of opportunities, so take advantage of these to upskill your workforce."

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Capita acquires L&D firm Blue Sky Performance

Capita plc has today announced that it has acquired L&D organisation Blue Sky Performance Improvement for an undisclosed sum. 

Blue Sky provides bespoke learning and development solutions for executive level employees, through to field based and contact centre frontline staff. The business has a solid track record in delivering improved employee productivity for its private and public sector clients. Its customer base includes 20 per cent of FTSE 100 companies such as British Gas, BT, Barclays, RBS and RSA. 

"Clients repeatedly buy from Blue Sky because of its unique learning methodology, which focuses on three crucial drivers of behaviour change - mindset, management practices and capability," said Dawn Marriott-Sims, head of Capita's workplace services division. 

"This approach delivers significant results in changing the behaviour of its clients' employees and therefore increases productivity within the workplace. This acquisition brings together two organisations that share a commitment to creating better services for their customers. Blue Sky's expertise will complement Capita's existing training and development services for public and private sector clients. Its expertise will also be used to progress Capita's own operational teams, maximising our capability and in turn delivering better experiences to our customers."  

Marc Jantzen, chief executive of Blue Sky, said: "As a leading provider of integrated learning solutions, Capita offers the opportunity to accelerate Blue Sky's growth. This is a new era for the Blue Sky team and we are looking forward to working together in meeting the changing landscape of learning and professional development to meet organisations' requirements." 

Blue Sky has 34 employees based in Guildford and is supported by a network of over 250 associates globally. 

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South Wales food firm dish up training for 350 staff

Food production firm Tillery Valley has launched a company-wide training programme for all 350 employees at its Abertillery site to improve their skill set. 

The twelve month scheme will run across all departments and will ensure that every single employee gains a nationally recognised qualification on completion of their learning. Each member of staff will follow a personalised training programme which will cover general business topics such as communication and team working, alongside specific job-related topics and technical and personal skills needs.

The learning programme has been specifically designed for Tillery Valley by organisational development specialists, Stratum. Tillery Valley can access up to £750,000 of funding from the Welsh Government's Skills Growth Wales initiative to support the programme. 

Skills Growth Wales was set up to support businesses to up-skill their workforce during times of expansion. Tillery Valley has recently recruited a number of additional staff after securing several new contracts and acquiring a new business.

Phil Hall, site director at Tillery Valley, said: "We work in an area of high unemployment so investing in the skills of our workforce is something that is not only important to us as a business, but will have a positive impact on the surrounding community. 

"Our workforce is our biggest asset and our employees understand that improved skills will mean better prospects for them personally and for us as a business. We strive to continually improve the quality of our service and provide opportunities for our staff to develop and drive the business forward.

"We have always been committed to our Investors in People status and firmly believe that the quality of our workforce can drive the quality of our service.  We have recently recruited 35 new members of staff and are confident that we will continue to secure new business and expand our workforce over the forthcoming years.

"We are very pleased to be working with Stratum on this structured programme which will ensure that we are continually driving standards and ensuring that our people are empowered to do the best job they possibly can."

Operations manager at Tillery Valley, Jeff Dunlop, said: "Committing to a company-wide learning programme requires a lot of time and energy from a business. Managing a training programme while ensuring that the workflow continues at the same pace is a juggling act, which demands commitment from everybody involved. 

"Stratum has taken time to get to know many of our staff and our business as a whole and has developed a bespoke programme which is being delivered flexibly to fit in with workloads and shift patterns.

"Every member of staff at Tillery Valley is engaged with the training and we are pleased that we can offer our employees this opportunity to develop both work and life skills which will ultimately boost their own prospects as well as our capabilities as a business."

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Ecclesiastical puts L&D centre stage with integrated learning suite

Ecclesiastical Insurance has chosen talent management solutions provider Kallidus to deliver an integrated solution for learning, performance and talent management.  

The first phase of the project is the implementation of the Kallidus learning management system (LMS) which is due to go live in May 2013. Initially, the LMS will enable more than 800 employees in the UK to access e-learning and blended learning programmes aligned to their individual development needs within the organisation, directly from their desktops. 

Nathan Monk, learning and talent consultant at Ecclesiastical, said: "Our new Kallidus learning platform is going to be critical in up-skilling our people and helping us to be experts in our specialist field in today's increasingly competitive marketplace. Underwriters and other key users will be able to access personalised training in an extremely intuitive way, saving the organisation both time and money. Most importantly, the solution will help us to embed a culture where people take ownership for their own development and can access the tools they need in one click of a mouse to improve their performance."

The Kallidus LMS will deliver e-learning courses in key areas such as technical, regulatory, compliance and health and safety training as well as providing bite-sized learning and blended learning programmes incorporating webinars, designed specifically to help employees develop and deliver business impact in their individual roles. 

The LMS will also underpin Ecclesiastical's Training Academy offering Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualifications and other accredited training programmes and will support the organisations 'Train the Trainer' training and coaching initiatives. 

As part of the project, Kallidus will be delivering financial compliance e-learning modules via the LMS developed by its partner Inmarkets, a UK content provider. 

Rob Caul, CEO of Kallidus, said: "Ecclesiastical is putting the development of its people at the heart of its organisation and recognises the benefits of integrating learning and talent management processes and the impact this can have on business performance. We are delighted to be working with an organisation that clearly values its people and actively encourages them to take ownership of their development. Through a strong partnership approach we are creating a system that gives learners and managers much more control over their learning." 

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LMS helps NHS Trust deliver learning initiatives to 4,500 employees

A new learning management system has helped Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust aid the professional development needs of its 4,500 employees. 

The Trust has successfully implemented the system from Kallidus, a talent management solutions provider. And the system provides a 'one-stop-shop' learning and development portal for almost 4,500 employees as well as supporting individuals with their continuous professional development (CPD) needs.

The Kallidus LMS has streamlined a process that previously delivered training through the national learning management system (NLMS) and two different e-learning systems. 

Two years ago the Trust doubled in size and within a year it became clear that the current systems were no longer sustainable. A new enterprise-wide learning platform was required to streamline the administration, delivery and management of the Trust's entire learning programmes, in particular statutory compliance training, and to create a better user experience.

Darryn Allcorn, assistant director of workforce development and planning for the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "Our existing systems had become a heavy burden for our team of training administrators and IT function. We run around 2,000 face-to-face training sessions a year and the administration of these via email had the potential to be fraught with errors. Also, despite being a top-20 Trust for e-learning use, our staff found it difficult to access the right e-learning courses and so we wanted to provide a more intuitive and personalised user experience."

In the first three weeks of going live the new system has been used by around 1,700 employees and all of the feedback has been very positive. The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is already seeing some clear benefits, particularly in the ease and speed in which course bookings now take place. This has already resulted in a strong increase in compliance training. In addition, employees are finding it easier to choose the right courses for their learning and development needs and managers can now see what training their teams are booked onto and track their progress more effectively.

The Kallidus platform supports the Trust's entire learning and development portfolio, ranging from statutory/mandatory compliance training, clinical training such as drug administration, maternity services and management courses. The flexibility of the system means that further information such as 'how to' guides can now be held on one single system, resulting in an easier to use 'one-stop-shop' enterprise-wide portal. The portal also supports and tracks external CPD courses.

Rob Caul, CEO of Kallidus, added: "We are delighted to be providing a platform that will support the critical learning and development needs of the Trust's workforce. We are confident that the Kallidus solution will deliver many significant benefits in the management, tracking and reporting of training both in the short and longer-term. It is good to hear that course bookings for mandatory courses are already up and that the system has been so well received due to its ease of use." 

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Partnership forged to share best practice on skills

Workplace development organisation Acua Solutions Limited hosted an international delegation as a partnership was forged to share vocational education in the logistics sectors in the UK and China. 

Logistics and educational officials from China were welcomed to the Coventry headquarters of Acua Solutions Limited as part of a visit organised by Skills for Logistics (SfL), The British Council and the China Federation for Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP). 

During the visit the 20-strong delegation learned how the government and the UK logistics sector has invested heavily to develop its skills and training infrastructure over the last 20 years.

They also took part in a number workshops led by Acua Solutions Limited in partnership with Coventry University and colleagues from the higher education and further education sectors. 

Neil Withey, client director at Acua Solutions Limited, welcomed the opportunity to share the success of partnerships between Coventry University and employers with the delegation. 

"The logistics sector in many ways has set the standard for how beneficial apprenticeships and higher education qualifications can be in supporting businesses to attract new talent and get the best of their teams," he said. 

"We've worked in partnership with some of the biggest names in the sector to develop skills and qualification programmes designed to meet the needs of companies and individuals, and the opportunity to share best practice with the delegation from China was one not to be missed." 

Jeannine Mortlock, managing director of Acua Solutions Limited, added: "Developing a strong partnership between the UK and China logistics sectors can only be positive to help make the UK a more attractive place for Chinese people to do business, and increase the skills levels of workforces. 

"We were delighted to be invited to take part in the delegation visit through our relationships with TNT Express and Ceva Logistics and look forward to developing partnerships with our counterparts in China." 

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m-hance commit to investing in fresh talent

Business technology provider m-hance has launched its new graduate recruitment scheme for 2013 in partnership with specialist recruitment firm, Discovery Graduates. 

m-hance's inaugural graduate programme attracted more than 1,200 applications for seven full-time roles last year and the software provider is aiming to recruit a further seven graduates to be based at its headquarters in Stockport from July 2013. 

The successful candidates will be given permanent placements in four business areas including product development, consulting, marketing and public relations. In addition to being given permanent full-time paid positions, graduates will also receive ongoing offsite training through Discovery's OPEN programme and have the opportunity to study for a postgraduate certificate in professional development, leadership and organisational change.

Mark Thompson, CEO of m-hance, said: "As a growing and financially strong business m-hance is committed to investing in fresh talent who wish to accelerate their careers with us through a variety of exciting routes. We are developing several new innovative products and services to provide further efficiency savings for our customers and are seeking passionate, highly driven and skilled graduates to make a measurable difference."

He added: "Our first graduate scheme was an outstanding success and enabled us to recruit seven exceptionally gifted individuals who are all enjoying thriving careers with m-hance with lots of opportunity to progress through the company. Our 2013 graduates will have a similarly vital role to play in ensuring our continued success and shaping our future business strategy working with world leading technology."

m-hance was formed in November 2011 and is supported by 230 staff in offices throughout the UK, Ireland, the United States and India. In September 2012 the company appeared in the prestigious Tech Track 100 league table as one of the fastest growing technology firms in the UK after achieving record sales growth of 45 per cent. m-hance was also shortlisted in the 'North West Newcomer' category as one of the best new business organisations in the North West Business Masters Awards 2013.

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Marks & Spencer joins learning panel discussion at HRD 2013

Learning technology trends that deliver strategic benefits to organisations will be explored in detail at the CIPD's annual HRD conference and exhibition next week. 

The City & Guilds Group, which now includes e-learning specialist Kineo, will be joined by learning professionals from organisations like Marks& Spencer to discuss how technology-led learning can be of use. 

Following in-depth research into workplace learning conducted by Kineo at the end of 2012, ten key trends were identified that are delivering real benefits to organisations today. The session will share these and other valuable insights from leading companies including Tesco, Civil Service Learning, Lloyds Banking Group, Bupa and Vodafone. Amongst the panellists will be Jane Daly, head of head office learning and development at Marks and Spencer, who will share her insights on what HR leadership can do to maximise the results of their learning strategies, and the M&S experience. 

Those not attending the HRD event can still take part by contributing their thoughts and questions to the Twitter hashtag #HRDLTinsights. There will be a written report of the debate's main points and findings available after the event. 

Kineo director Stephen Walsh said: "Our research is based on qualitative analysis of how technology-led learning and development leads deliver strategic benefits within organisations. 

"Real-world experts like Jane Daly are on the front line of delivering strategic benefits and as a result, we'll be revealing very practical advice that can be applied to help HRD attendees - and those not attending via the social media coverage - start to deliver these benefits right now."

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Sectors urged to work together to aid next generation workforce

Calls for the training industry and education sector to work more closely have been made in attempt to ensure that the next generation of workers are ascertaining the right skills.

That's after a poll of more than 500 UK CEOs revealed that more than half (54 per cent) believe the current education system is failing future workers. According to the survey, a good degree or a nice set of A levels is not enough to guarantee a successful career.

The research, commissioned by Skillsoft, found that while CEOs valued qualifications in their future managers (63 per cent considered it to be their number one value), they felt the current education system is not equipping future workers with the basic skills that employers need.

Kevin Young, general manager, EMEA at Skillsoft, said: "There seems to be a disconnect between the skills gained while in education and those that employers need their new starters to have. With businesses working leaner and smarter to achieve success, they now expect more from their employees when it comes to basic office skills, in order to hit the ground running.

"A case in point is IT skills. We have noticed an increase in demand among our customers for basic IT training and, with the ICT curriculum set to be replaced with a computer science qualification from 2014, it could take time to close the gap. Industry and education need to work closer together to ensure that students are gaining the appropriate skills for work, which can be fine tuned and developed with on the job training and support."

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Finance change creates skills shortage for UK companies

The vast majority (81 per cent) of UK executives want to form stronger partnerships between the finance department and other parts of the business, according to a new research report from recruitment specialist Robert Half UK. 

However, a third of executives (33 per cent) say that they find it difficult to source candidates with the right experience to implement a business partnering approach. Nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) report that it is very difficult to retrain existing traditional finance professionals to take on a business partnering role and as a result, 70 per cent will be looking externally for talent whether via the recruitment of permanent employees (35 per cent) or interim professionals (35 per cent).

The report gauges the progress that companies in the UK (and their European counterparts) have made in developing finance business partnerships and the problems faced in embedding such partnerships within the organisation. 

A range of drivers are pushing finance partnering to become mission critical in the UK: they include the increased complexity of business, more intense competition, technological change and greater business volatility. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK respondents believe that economic uncertainty increases the need for a company's finance function to develop business partnering capabilities.

Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half UK, said: "The research highlights a new skills gap for finance departments who want to make the transition from traditional accountancy to add extra value across their organisations, including optimising the performance of the business, providing support for better business decision-making, and improving risk management throughout the organisation. Our research shows that the vast majority of finance teams see the requirement to change, but lack the right people to put it into practice." 

The survey reveals SMEs share many similarities with larger companies when it comes to business partnering. Indeed, business partnering is equally accepted in SMEs and larger businesses alike: nearly half (45 per cent), respectively, feel that wider acceptance from the business is necessary to enable partnering to prosper. 

Despite the clear commitment by executives at large and small companies alike to push through change, nearly one in four (24 per cent) UK respondents struggle to implement business partnering properly, and only half (50 per cent) have a function that is fully embedded across the organisation.

"Finance needs specific talent programmes to identify and develop business partners, and manage their careers, in a structured way. Job rotation, foreign assignments and job shadowing have a role in facilitating the necessary skills and experience. Attracting finance personnel with the right profile may require a rethink of traditional career paths for finance executives: aspiring finance business partners need to see that there are clear and exciting opportunities to further develop their careers within the business," Sheridan concluded. 

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