Online learning makes inroads

The CIPD show, Europe’s largest management exhibition, has its fair share of
training-related exhibitors and events this year.

More than 100 of the 330 companies exhibiting in five halls at the Harrogate
show are involved in some form of training, ranging from e-learning and
training-needs software to outdoor development, business schools and executive

As well as the exhibition and conference, there will be a free programme of
fringe sessions covering topics such as drama-based training, strategic
learning and coaching to achieve behavioural change.

And in keeping with the times, the exhibition is witnessing a significant
increase in e-learning providers.

"I’ve noticed a big increase in exhibitors covering areas like
e-learning and online recruitment, and there is always a hard core of
management consultancies, psychometrics companies and so on," says Jane
O’Hara, PR manager at Academee, which is launching a new e-learning programme
but also provides face-to-face training.

O’Hara believes the economic uncertainties will put pressure on training
budgets, but that e-learning could benefit.

"It often has cost benefits compared with face-to-face training and is
an effective way of offering retraining to people made redundant," she

Integrated Approach

But it is important that organisations do not regard e-learning as a replacement
for other programmes, she argues. "It should be part of an integrated
training approach, including face-to-face learning."

Other e-learning exhibitors include Go MAD, which is launching an online
learning and assessment product, and Citizen Connect, whose partners include
the University for Industry, for which it is providing an online learning and
career management programme for adults.

As well as online delivery of training, new technology has also led to
developments in areas like training needs analysis, which is reflected in the

For example, Cascaid will be launching a training needs analysis software
programme aimed specifically at the retail sector.

"TNA is becoming more accessible for companies with the move away from time-consuming
paper-based systems to TNA software," says spokesman Leo Kendall.

Assessing training needs is becoming more critical for organisations, agrees
Roy Davis, head of communications at another exhibitor, SHL.

"Particularly in the current downturn, when training budgets are likely
to come under a lot of pressure, it’s essential that organisations are
convinced of the value of their training programmes."

At the other learning extreme from PC-based training is outdoor development.
Exhibitors include Derwent Hill, in the Lake District, and Brookfield Manor,
which has recently installed a ropes challenge course at its centre.

But here too providers expect a growing focus by clients on value for money.
John Driscoll, marketing manager at the Lake District-based Dove Nest Group,
says clients are increasingly finding it hard to visit for longer courses and
so the trend has been to squeeze as much training into a shorter period.

"There’s been a big move in recent years away from five- or even
seven-day courses to shorter ones," he says, adding that this reflects the
increasing time pressures on managers.

The company has tackled this demand by shortening some courses to three
days, but building in more training during the pre-course visit to the client and
follow-up sessions.

"That allows us to cover some of the material that has been cut from
the original course," he says.

As well as the more traditional training providers, there are a number of
exhibitors focusing on more esoteric approaches, such as EIUK, a specialist
centre for the measurement of individual and team emotional intelligence
coaching and development.

It’s the company’s third visit to the exhibition and founder Geetu Orme
says, "There’s been a fair amount of scepticism in previous years about
emotional intelligence as a form of development but now we’re seeing a lot more
people interested."

She cites clients such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ford Europe and the
charity Scope as illustrating the growing interest in the subject.

Exhibitors say there has been an evolution in the kind of delegates
attending the show in recent years, with a move away from HR director level to
their representatives, as well as an increase in non-HR managers.

Roy Davis of SHL says the change is a reflection of the changing nature of
HR. "HR directors are now operating at a more strategic level so it’s
questionable whether Harrogate still appeals to them as much. You’re more
likely to find staff on a ‘go fetch’ mission, where they know what they need
but want to look at the different products."

He has also noticed a growing number of non-HR specialists visiting the
exhibition. "Line managers are finding it harder to hide behind HR when it
comes to learning and development and so we’re seeing more of them coming to
Harrogate to see what’s on the market," he says.

Academee’s Jane O’Hara also welcomes the attendance of more non-HR managers,
saying, "We’re meeting people from areas like sales and marketing, which
is good because it shows those people are now training people development

Alongside the exhibition will be a series of free fringe events, including
several in the training and development field. Ian Hardie, associate dean of
executive education at the London Business School, will be presenting one
seminar on "What do traditional business schools have to offer corporate

Hardie says, "Corporate universities are becoming increasingly
important in executive development and one key theme is how business schools
implement training and development with corporate universities."

He will also be looking at the various models of corporate universities,
from virtual universities to the bricks and mortar approach.

The LBS has helped set up corporate universities such as US energy company
Connoco and financial services company Old Mutual.

In another fringe seminar, firm of business psychologists the Gray
Partnership will be examining how training can contribute to behavioural
differences in organisations.

Managing director Annie Gray says too many organisations do not properly
evaluate whether training achieves the required behavioural differences.

"Delegates on courses only retain 30 per cent of what they learn, on
average, and too many organisations restrict their evaluation to superficial issues,
such as whether delegates enjoyed the lunch, instead of examining several
months later whether behavioural differences have occurred."

She adds that a key point of the interactive seminar will explore how
organisations can improve the individual’s motivation to learn.

The drama-based training company Steps will be highlighting diversity
issues, such as disability, ageism and race, at another fringe event.

Other training-related seminars include Maple Consulting’s look at how
individuals can stimulate thinking about their own career development and
QTAB’s seminar on the benefits that strategic learning can bring to
organisational development.

Training provider ASE will present a seminar on measuring approaches to
problem solving. The company will present data on how a "cognitive process
profile", which uses innovations in psychometrics and computer technology,
can help solve problems.

Talk show

Speakers to listen out for include:

– Don Tapscott, one of the world’s leading cyber gurus, is one
of the conference keynote speakers and he will be looking at lifelong
organisational learning in his talk on The New Economy on 26 October. Tapscott,
author of Digital Capital, argues that in the new economy an organisation will
only be competitive if it can learn faster than its rivals.

– On Thursday, speakers including Andrew Kakabadse of Cranfield
School of Management and Tim Lewis, assistant chief constable of the Royal
Ulster Constabulary, will discuss Leadership development and the top team. On
the same day Prof Michael West of Aston Business School is among the speakers
on Building leadership capability: a psychological perspective.

– Also on Thursday, David Clutterbuck, chairman of the ITEM
Group, and Peter Matthews, partner in charge of business development at Ernst &
Young, will speak on Coaching for leadership.

– Friday’s events include a seminar on e-learning. Speakers are
Alison Walker of British Airways, Gilly Salmon of the Open University Business
School and John O’Connor of telecoms company Hutchison3G.

– And on Friday, Prof Adrian Furnham of University College,
London, and David Fairhurst, HR director at Tesco, discuss Managing culture
change, in a seminar chaired by Nottingham County Council chief executive Peter

Getting there

Rail – go to York or Leeds to change for Harrogate

Road – the M1, M5, M6 and A1 motorways are close to

Air – Leeds/Bradford airport is 30 minutes’ drive

Further details can be accessed from the CIPD website at

Times and dates

The conference and exhibition are held at the Harrogate
International Centre and run from Wednesday 24 to Friday 26 October. Opening
times are 10.30am to 6pm on Wednesday, 9.30am to 6pm on Thursday and 9.30am to
3pm on Friday.

The fringe programme, which is open to everyone on a
first-come, first-served basis, will run from 6.30 to 7.30pm on Wednesday, 8 to
9am, 1 to 2pm and 6.30 to 7.30pm on Thursday and 8 to 9am on Friday.

For details of the fringe programme and other details visit

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