Judges of character

An
expert panel of judges has been lined up to assess all the entries to this
year’s TD2001 Award. Their interests and specialist areas reflect the entire
gamut of business and training issues, as Patrick McCurry reports

As
befits the TD2001 Awards, all three judges have a passionate interest in
training and wide experience of advising on or putting effective training
programmes into practice.

They
will be looking for examples of best practice from applicants in the key areas
of how training is integrated with the organisation’s goals, how much top table
influence training managers have and how initiatives are evaluated.

Two
of the judges have expertise in researching and advising on training and one
comes from the “coalface” of industry.

Andrew
Forrest, learning and development director at the Industrial Society, has
advised on training at organisations as diverse as Rolls-Royce, the
Metropolitan Police, the BBC and the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Professor
Mike Campbell heads the Policy Research Institute at Leeds Metropolitan
University, which has carried out wide-ranging research on training for the
Department for Education and Employment, about half the country’s training and
enterprise councils and for local authorities.

Bringing
a perspective from within industry is Colin Midson, operations director of
engineering company LGH. He has worked his way up the organisation from sales
rep through management to a directorship and steered the company’s products division
to  attain the new Investors in People
standard. His company also recently received an award from its local Tec for
innovative practice in achieving cultural change.

Practical
view

“I
come at training from a very practical point of view,” Midson says. “I’m not an
academic and I don’t have any letters after my name, but I have a strong
interest in how training can help a business achieve its objectives.”

Midson
won’t be impressed by organisations that “flower up” their training but haven’t
thought through what they are trying to achieve. “Too many organisations decide
to send managers on, say, a time management course because it sounds good, but
without having thought through whether it’s necessary or how it will impact on
the business goals.”

Midson
has specialised in dealing with acquisitions and turning around loss-making
companies. “I’m particularly interested in how training can contribute to
cultural change in organisations.”

From
a more research-based background comes Andrew Forrest, who has spent his career
at the Industrial Society, where his roles have included project managing a
self-managed learning programme and HR director. But his is no ivory tower
existence. “I spend 80 per cent of my time out of the office, working with
clients or delivering seminars and workshops.”

He
is keen on trying to encourage whatever training is done in an organisation to
relate to the business and not just the individual. “There’s often a gap between
the individual’s training and how that is put into practice in the
organisation,” he says.

Support

Too
often organisations do not properly brief staff before training and, worse,
when the individual returns from a course there may be little support by the
employer to ensure that what has been learned is applied in the workplace or
shared with colleagues. “Organisations waste a lot of money in just hoping for
the best from courses and not following them up,” he says.

Forrest
is keen that organisations tap a variety of training sources and do not simply
rely on traditional courses, which he regards as a “one-club approach” that
limits the potential of training. He says, “There are so many training methods,
from books and courses to mentoring, and different people may respond better to
one or other method, or a combination may work best.”

Like
Forrest, Campbell has a sound academic grounding in training issues, but also
significant practical experience of the subject. The early years of his career
were in hotel and catering, working for Trust House Hotels, and then as a loss
adjuster in the insurance industry.

After
completing a Masters degree, he became an academic and set up the Policy
Research Institute, which specialises in looking at the links between training
and economic success, whether for the individual, company or community. He has
carried out research projects on training for the DfEE, about half the
country’s training and education councils and for local authorities.

Coherence

“I’m
very interested in whether an organisation’s training is systematic and
coherent and whether it runs across the workforce as a whole,” he says, adding
that one of the unfortunate traditions in Britain is for training and
development to be concentrated on those who are already well qualified. “There
needs to be equal emphasis on those that have the most need but often have
least access,” he says.

Campbell
will be keen to question applicants on how their training is linked to the
business or organisational plan and how the employer tries to measure its
impact. “I’ll be asking what the payback of training is both to the individual
and employer, what lessons are drawn from that evaluation and how it influences
the future approach to training and development.”

Campbell
believes that, while there are some excellent examples of best practice in
training, too many British companies still do not take it seriously enough.
“The best British companies are the best in the world, and that goes for their
training and development, but there is a long trail of underachievers behind
them because many business people do not value training enough, probably
because they have not been convinced of the business benefits.”

Awards
sponsor Raytheon Professional Services believes TD2001 will reinforce the
growing interest in training issues by UK companies competing in an
increasingly globalised market place.

As
the global economy continues to change at an astounding pace, the ability to
learn quickly and effectively will become an even more significant factor in
business success, says Michael Nehrmann, RPS director, sales and marketing for
Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He
says, “A major issue facing companies is the question of ensuring that their
workforce is appropriately equipped to deal with both current and future
business issues. This can only be achieved by ensuring that training is
inseparably linked to the company’s business strategy and goals.

“The
TD2001 Award will recognise organisations that are able to demonstrate success in
this area.”

Nehrmann
adds that the global business environment means companies must focus on core
business competencies. “The ability to work with professional partners will
play an ever-increasing role in boosting the value and standing of training and
development within the overall organisation.”

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