Leeds City Council Learning and Development Unit (LDU) managed to reward its band of freelance trainers and improve its reputation within the authority by implementing an accreditation programme.
The Leeds City Council Learning and Development Unit (LDU) forms part of Corporate Services and provides a training and consultancy service to all council training departments. This service includes all forms of development, including staff and management training.
LDU operates as a trading account. Therefore the quality of training is vital to its success and needs to set a benchmark for the internal departments. There are only three permanent employees, (one full time and two part-time) in the IT section of LDU and the courses are delivered by a team of 18 associate trainers who have an annually renewable contract.
All these trainers and associate trainers have achieved the Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP) Certificate in Training Delivery skills, thereby enabling LDU to fulfil the criteria for the Gold Standard Accreditation as an Internal Training Department from the Institute of IT Training in 2003.
The volume of IT training undertaken increased substantially with Investors in People accreditation (2001) and the subsequent introduction of personal development plans for all employees. There has been continued growth in the number and range of courses delivered. During 2004 approximately 500 courses were delivered.
By investing in the TAP programme the IT Training department fulfilled two of the core values of Leeds City Council, valuing colleagues and putting customers first.
IT Training Manager Pat McConnell explains: "It is important that we retain our team of associate trainers, many of whom have worked for Leeds City Council for several years. The Trainer Assessment Programme provided an opportunity to offer continuous professional development for the trainers and to establish a consistent delivery style amongst experienced trainers that previously held a variety of qualifications.
"Everyone was enthusiastic about the opportunity to complete the TAP programme and the additional opportunities that would result from this qualification.
"Several of our associate trainers, who did not necessarily know each other well, were trained on the same Delivery Skills Refresher course. The opportunity to work together over three days has definitely improved communication and networking between the trainers."
Learning and Development Advisor Clare Townend believes that carrying out the programme has boosted the reputation of the department.
"The programme has enhanced the reputation and credibility of LDU resulting in additional business, especially in relation to the development and delivery of bespoke IT courses. In the past it is more likely that this would have been done by departmental training teams," she says.
She adds: "I strongly advocate interim assessments of trainers who have achieved the qualification to ensure that they continue to apply the methodology and become more confident in using the techniques.
"In addition to supporting our associate trainers, we will continue to encourage the individual departmental training functions within Leeds City Council to invest in the TAP programme to ensure a consistent standard of training throughout the organisation. Social Services have already made this investment and LDU are able to offer support and assessment to their trainers, which will establish a closer relationship between LDU and the Social Services training team."