A round-up of training news

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Inquiry into the Google generation learning experience

A UK-wide inquiry into the widespread use of new technology by university and college students could reveal interesting results for the wider training community.

Chaired by Professor Sir David Melville CBE and backed by leading bodies in UK higher and further education, the committee will consider the impact of new technologies such as social networking and mobile devices, on the behaviour and attitudes of university learners.

The past few years have seen dramatic growth in the availability of a wide range of affordable, high quality personal communication tools and technologies. Young people in particular are shaping their lives with these highly interactive technologies which they now take for granted.

While developments in technology have been charted and changes in learner behaviour noted, there are significant challenges which national education bodies believe need greater attention. It is these that the committee of inquiry has been set up to address.

Committee chair Professor Sir David Melville said: "Students are at the forefront in the use of new technologies and it is changing the way in which they interact with each other and the world about them. The arrival of learners with such radically different experience and expectations has far reaching implications for institutions of higher education. This inquiry is timely, as is the opportunity to explore these important issues."

The committee, with membership drawn from the university, college, school, student and employer communities, will run for around nine to 12 months and aims to produce a final report by the end of year.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "Over the last 10 years or so, the internet, in particular, has transformed the way students access information. These technological developments present a major opportunity for higher education. This inquiry will certainly help inform universities about the likely trends and challenges ahead."

Recruiters say they'd like more training

More than 60% of recruitment consultants believe their company should provide more training. This was the finding of a recent snapshot survey of 131 recruiters conducted by performance development specialists Lander Associates.

The majority of those that said their company should provide more development opportunities believed that staff would benefit from regular training sessions to allow them to constantly develop their recruiting skills.

One consultant said: "I think I’m pretty good at my job, but it would help if we were kept up to date with the latest ideas in the industry and could keep building on our skills to make sure we were always working to the best of our ability."

Of those surveyed 17% said they would like to see more training on general workplace issues, like time management and networking.

A further 35% suggested that their company should organise training to prepare consultants for management as well as helping those already in management positions to develop their leadership skills. Another respondent explained: "Most people going into management will not know how to manage a team effectively so would definitely benefit from some advice. And although my current managers are good at their jobs, training might give them some new ideas that could keep their management style fresh and exciting."

Major new training program to expand 'talking' therapies workforce

The Health Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled plans for a major new programme to train an extra 3,600 psychological therapists.

The £170 million 'Improving Access to Psychological Therapies' programme is designed to help transform the lives of thousands of people with depression and anxiety disorders by offering them access to cognitive behavioural therapies.

NICE guidelines on treatment for depression and anxiety recommend psychological therapies as part of an overall care plan and evidence shows therapy is longer lasting and as effective as drugs in the short-term.

The 'Improving Access to Psychological Therapies' programme will train a new workforce of therapists at two levels who will deliver high-intensity therapy for people with moderate to severe conditions and low-intensity therapy for people with mild to moderate conditions.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said: "More than one in six people suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression at any one time and GPs spend a third of their time dealing with people with these common mental health problems."

Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and a member of the We Need to Talk coalition of mental health charities, commented: "The lack of timely NHS provision of psychological therapies is a major inequality in health care. For many people with depression and anxiety, timely access to therapy can be the difference between keeping and losing a job, or staying in school and dropping out. IAPT is a unique opportunity to train and develop a group of NHS-aligned therapists with the skills that are needed to offer support to the full range of people experiencing mental distress: from those at risk of losing their jobs to those caught up in the youth justice system."

Women-only management training pilot a runaway success

Candidates, employers, learning champions, LSC and college representatives gathered together recently to celebrate the achievement of 91 women who have gained the prestigious Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) level 3 NVQ in management.

The women were from the first group of candidates enrolled by Skills Team since they started the Train to Gain level 3 women only pilot in March 2007.

"The programme has been a runaway success with new groups starting every week and a waiting list for places," said Skills Team managing director, Sally Tate. "Feedback has been very encouraging too with women reporting that the have gained skills and confidence and have begun to realise their own potential."

Many of the candidates reported that they or their employers would not have had the funds to support this type of personal development had it not been for Train to Gain.

"There have been so many success stories it is difficult to single any one out but one candidate has really encouraged us" explained Tate. "Anne Hutchins left school with no qualifications and over the years worked her way to the top. For the last 12 years she has been a manager for Merton Libraries working in some of the toughest and most demanding communities. Despite all this success she felt a bit insecure with having no formal qualification."

"Coming on the programme has really helped my confidence and given me new skills" said Anne. At the age of 66 she has now gained her first formal qualification which affirms her natural abilities and proves it’s never too late to learn.

Penny de Valk, CEO of the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), and Rod Kenyon, regional chair of the LSC, addressed the gathering at the Institute of Directors and handed out the certificates. Both emphasised the shift in skills needs for the 21st Century and the increasingly significant role and opportunity for women in management. These greater demands will mean that more and more women will need to develop their leadership and management skills and the Train to Gain women pilot is playing an enormously beneficial part in addressing this need.

Career crunch for women during economic slowdown?

New research from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP shows progress is slow in fixing the leaking pipeline of future female talent in the FTSE 350, with levels at management and senior management still 20% below that of 2002. The research shows:

  • A year on year reduction in pay at almost all management and executive director levels in FTSE 100 and FTSE 250;
  • A resulting widening of the gap in some areas between male and female pay over a six year period, after sustained progress over the past few years towards closing the gap;
  • A year on year increase in women in management and senior management positions in FTSE 350 companies.

Sarah Churchman, head of diversity and inclusion at PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "This is a business issue, not a women’s issue. Research shows that companies with the highest proportion of women in senior teams significantly outperformed those with the lowest. The Women and Work commission has also highlighted that the UK could gain £23 billion or 2% of GDP by better harnessing women’s skills.

"Female management and senior management appointments in the FTSE 350 are the incubators for future global business female leaders. The continuing leaking pipeline of FTSE 350 future female leaders is costing the British economy dear in terms of knowledge, skills and their resulting economic contribution in the UK and internationally.

"Our research suggests that the loss of a senior manager level employee can cost up to three times the annual salary and benefit packages in terms of training time and knowledge investment."

News in brief

* £5 million a year to help women get on at work

Skills Minister David Lammy has said there will be more support to recruit and train women to overcome their under-representation in five key sectors. The Women and Work Sector Pathways Initiative, which has helped set out new recruitment and career pathways for over 8,000 women since 2006, will receive a further £5 million a year for the next three years. The initiative is currently running projects with nine Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). The five most successful projects will continue and will encourage new innovative approaches next year. All SSCs will be given an opportunity to propose projects that address the needs of women in their sector. The projects will aim to help 5,000 women each year. The initiative works to improve career opportunities for women in sectors and occupations where there are specific skills shortages and skills gaps and where women are under represented, in sectors as diverse as construction, agriculture, automotive retail, clothing and footwear manufacture and cleaning.

* New forces start training programme to further improve performance

Four police forces today started a police training programme to improve performance. On a visit to the Quest Academy in Oxford, the home secretary Jacqui Smith spent time with 40 frontline officers from Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Sussex who have all started their training programme.

The Quest Academy and training programme has been developed to give frontline police officers the freedom and the skills to improve operational performance. It gives frontline police the skills to analyse their work and streamline work processes so they can work more effectively.

*Lane4 appoints classical ballet dancer

Former ballet dancer, Lee Fisher has been appointed as a consultant at Lane4. Lee has performed at the highest level in classical ballet for 17 years. He’ll be applying his leadership skills to the world of business where he’ll help individuals and teams to thrive in high performing, competitive corporate environments. He was the Dance Fellow 2005/06 on the Core Leadership Programme – an initiative that identifies and develops leaders in the cultural sector. The programme included leadership training, mentoring and placements at the Eden Project and BBC2. He also co-found and is the artistic director of Freefall Dance Company, a company for young dancers with severe learning disabilities.

Ruth Cavender, head of human resources at Lane4 commented: "We’re always on the look out for talented individuals. We’re not necessarily looking for qualified trainers. Instead, like Lee, we’re seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds who don’t necessarily meet set criteria regarding qualifications but they have a 'degree in excellence.' From our experience, candidates from the worlds of psychology, organisational development, performance and elite sport make great Lane4 performance consultants."

*City & Guilds names new director general

City & Guilds announced today (6 March 2008) that it has appointed Chris Jones, the former Chief Executive Officer of Harcourt Education International, as its new Director-General. He replaces Chris Humphries CBE who left the Group at the end of 2007 to head the newly created UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Jones joins City & Guilds on 10 March with the remit of ensuring that City & Guilds continues to be a leading force in the vocational education arena, achieves its ambitious five year strategic plan, and realises its international aspirations.

*Free elearning event for health professionals

Elearning specialists Course-Source are offering senior learning professionals from within the NHS and the private sector a chance to discover how to maximise elearning initiatives for clinical services and healthcare organisations.

The free event, to be hosted by Course-Source at the Royal Society of Medicine on 3 April 2008, will have a special focus on rapid design, development and delivery.

To register for this learning and networking opportunity for senior health professionals only, or to express interest in similar events nationwide, please contact Course-Source on 020 7689 6700 or email [email protected]

*Dentistry graduates to complete training in areas of patient need

New NHS training places will be made available to dentistry graduates in areas of highest patient need, Health Minister Ann Keen has announced.

Following a government pledge in 2004 to increase the number of dental students by 25%, the first tranche of students will complete their studies next year and begin one year of vocational training.

The initial 40 extra training places coming through in 2009 will be located in Yorkshire, the North West, the South West and South Central and the 170 dentists graduating every year from 2010 will also be allocated places according to oral health need or where demand is greatest.
Consideration is also being given to extending the NHS vocational training scheme to two years to include a broader base of experience. The measure would help to tackle poor access and is expected to be welcomed by dentists.

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