How did you come to work in training?
After university, I joined the Civil Service Graduate Programme. I spent five years working in various departments ending up as private secretary for a minister of state. In 1995 I went back to university to study for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. After teaching in a primary school for two years I joined Centrica, initially as a business analyst and, since 2001 a trainer.
Describe your role.
Varied! One day I might be designing writing or delivering scheduled or bespoke training courses via either classroom training or e-learning. The next, I could be floor walking to provide front-line user support or managing the training for a group-wide software rollout. I am also heavily involved in marketing the training department across the group.
What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Designing and delivering training. Unless I am involved in a project, which would then become my full-time job for the duration of the project.
Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
A bit of both really. Our scheduled courses are designed to meet wider corporate objectives. They are constantly revised or even re-written to ensure that they keep up with constantly changing strategic goals. However, one-off bespoke training requirements do often occur so I also meet these needs as they arise.
Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
Yes. Our department is an Accredited Gold Standard Training Provider by the Institute of IT Training (IITT). Our learning centre is also accredited by the IITT as well as being a member of the British Learning Association (ex British Association for Open Learning) and a Microsoft Certified Partner. I feel that in recent years, with the threat of possible out-sourcing hanging over us, the fact that we are benchmarked against the best in the industry has been a major element in our survival.
Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?
The profile of training within Centrica has grown considerably within the last five years. There is, however, always scope for improvement!
How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
In these major ways:
* Meeting Needs – blended learning allows flexible cost effective learning at the point of need and in the way most appropriate to the learner.
* Projects – again, providing a cost-effective blended solution allows for quicker and greater benefits-realisation. Staff are trained in the new software being rolled out during a particular project, as opposed to “picking it up as they went along” which was all too common in the past. In addition any new processes or “corporate messages” can be communicated far more consistently and effectively. The chance to questions and discuss these during a course, means that learners are much more likely to adopt them, than if they were simply instructed to do so via email from “on-high”.
* Return on investment – providing key figures with this information demonstrates to the decision makers how training interventions have directly benefited their bottom line, by being able to achieve more for less money.
* Evaluation – All learners are asked to complete an on-line evaluation form at the end of each course. This information is used to confirm that our training is meeting customer requirements or to inform any amendments that need to be made to reflect changing priorities.
What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
The advent of blended learning and the drive to align training objectives with the wider corporate objectives.
Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
I think that trainers are having a greater say in National policy via bodies such as the IITT and the e-learning forum. This can only be a good thing!