Laura Kelly, International Marketing Manager from Thomson NETg looks at the challenge of public sector human resource and training directors which is to ensure the right people are receiving the right training quickly and effectively.
Meeting e-government Objectives
With the central government directive that all services are to be delivered electronically by 2005, the need for public sector professionals to maintain IT and business skills has become paramount.
The Central Government Workforce Development Plan, ‘Developing 21st Century Skills’, published in March 2001, identified IT skills as key to the future success of e-government, which means the sector faces a huge training challenge over the next 12 months. In addition, the report highlighted the need for increased emphasis on business and professional development skills such as customer service, project management, team working and problem solving. With commercial pressure on the public sector growing, these types of skills are becoming vitally important to ensure a high standard of public service and business success.
Delivering Training within Government
With thousands of employees working across the UK, delivering consistent training to all government departments is no easy task. Moreover, with every employee requiring training in different skills, public sector human resource and training directors face the challenge of ensuring the right people are receiving the right training quickly and effectively.
For many government organisations, this has meant adopting a blended approach to learning, using a variety of learning solutions such as e-Learning, instructor-led training, and training manuals. The flexible approach blended learning provides, means public sector bodies are able to roll-out learning programmes to staff in a format which is tailored to their exact needs and those of the departments.
e-Learning, as part of a blended learning programme, is particularly beneficial because it enables users to carry out training without having to leave their desk. This minimalises the disruption of training on their working day and ensures new skills can be learnt or old skills refreshed quickly and easily. In addition, flexible delivery methods via the departments intranet, to CD-ROMs, to web hosted learning services, ensure that all employees can access the learning regardless of their departments’ IT infrastructure. With a blended learning approach, employees have the flexibility to develop their skills as and when required, helping to maximise their individual productivity and drive business goals forward.
Measuring Return on Investment
A key element to the implementation of a government training programme is the ability return on investment. All organisations need to be able to measure the success of their learning programmes and develop clear metrics to evaluate results. However, when the money invested comes from the taxpayer, being able to demonstrate value is even more important. A learner management system (LMS) or a tool for tracking and measuring learning is therefore essential.
Having strong measurement tools in place means that government HR directors can guarantee they are achieving the best possible results from their learning programmes and confidently demonstrate a productive and efficient allocation of public funds internally and externally.
The Central Government
The Central Government National Training Organisation (CGNTO) is one public sector body taking the lead in meeting the Central Government’s 2005 online objectives and promoting lifelong learning for civil service employees. In a bid to move towards the e-government initiative the CGNTO has embarked on a mission to roll out an organisation-wide learning programme that delivers access to leading IT courses to hundreds of employees.
Working together with Thomson NETg, the CGNTO is providing learning materials and online testing in the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) to a number of government departments such as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The ECDL course covers all seven modules required to gain the ECDL certificate, including basic concepts of IT, using the computer and managing files, and word processing. Employees are able to access the ECDL courses via CD-ROM, intranet, internet or LAN, supported by tutors and once training has been completed carry out the ECDL exam over the internet or intranet. With this targeted learning programme the CGNTO is helping to ensure public sector staff are equipped with the key IT skills required to meet the government’s online initiative.
Preparing For the Future
If the government achieves its goals of providing all services electronically by 2005, the public can look forward to an efficient and modern service, from being able to book appointments with the doctor via digital interactive TV to paying taxes and receiving benefits through online transactions.
What is clear though is that these goals can only be achieved if the managers and support staff who implement the online strategies are fully equipped with the right skills to do so. IT and business and professional skills training is now a key priority for the public sector.