In keeping with its mission to enhance the skills and professionalism of the UK’s learning and development community, the Training Foundation’s tenth birthday celebrations included presentations of TAP Diploma certificates.
Since 1998, more than 20,000 L&D professionals have become TAP-qualified, with the latest to receive certificates representing a broad range of sectors, from finance, engineering and retail to IT, health and education and from the largest multinationals to the independent trainer.
“It’s been a long, but highly rewarding journey, with many milestones along the way,” says deputy chief executive Adrian Snook. “Ten years ago the L&D community was pretty resistant to our arguments that L&D needed to up its game, so it’s immensely satisfying to be in a position now where TAP is the de facto training standard in a growing number of sectors.”
Spurred by the initial success of TAP methodology in IT, the Training Foundation quickly realised that the best practice skills required for knowledge transfer were the same, whatever the sector.
Ten years on, over 60% of TAP-qualified professionals work within non-IT-related roles, industries and professions. The consistent, structured, standardised framework for the design and delivery of training offered by TAP is as relevant to helicopter flying instructors or rugby union referees as it is to healthcare, retail, local government, or education.
In 2005 The Training Foundation’s commitment to continuous improvement of its programmes in response to clients’ needs was rewarded with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation, never before awarded to a training organisation.
This accolade is being shared with committed ‘TAP enthusiasts’ through the TAP partner’s programme, which offers two levels of partnership status: gold for organisations where all training is designed and facilitated by TAP-qualified professionals and silver for organisations where all training is facilitated by TAP-qualified professionals. All TAP partners are eligible to display a special TAP panel on their training materials bearing the Queen’s Award logo.
“We now have around 120 TAP partners, with three or four organisations qualifying for membership every week,” says Ron Mackrell, director of the TAP partner’s programme.
“As well as providing a vibrant environment for networking and shared business development opportunities, L&D teams really value the kudos TAP partnership status gives them within their organisation. It’s an external validation of their professionalism.”
One organisation which has fully embraced the TAP philosophy and methodology is the NHS, where TAP is the recommended standard at trusts across the UK and more than 2,300 trainers now hold TAP qualifications. A growing number of trusts are becoming TAP partners.
Increasingly, TAP is embedded within the tendering processes conducted by major organisations and a recent Google search of ‘TAP trainers’ revealed more than 250 current vacancies for TAP-qualified L&D professionals listed in the first ten pages.
Founder and chief executive of the Training Foundation Nick Mitchell says there is still much to be done to fulfil the foundation’s mission. “The drive to innovate, support high standards of professionalism and share best practice never abates!
“Ten years ago we recognised that L&D would never be accepted as a profession if there was no formal ‘licence to trade’,” says Mitchell. “As long as the perception of training as the preserve of the ad hoc amateur persists it will always be viewed as an overhead rather than an investment. No wonder, when times are hard as they are now, it has historically been one of the first areas to fall victim to cuts.
“We have made huge headway in overlaying subject matter knowledge and skills with training design and delivery expertise. Our next challenge is to underpin these training skills with the human attributes that foster optimum learner engagement through our new ‘Trainer of Choice’ initiative. We don’t just want professional trainers; we want great trainers because the skills required for UK plc’s productivity and competitiveness depends on them.”