Virtual university ready for take off

BAA has launched a virtual university to boost staff development at its
seven UK airports which include Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

Priscilla Vacassin, HR director of BAA, said the new intranet-based
university demonstrated the increased emphasis the company has placed on
employee training in the aftermath of 11 September.

She said the university would offer real value to the business by focusing
on the skills and programmes that have the greatest impact on performance.

The organisation will spend around £6.5m on training this year and the new
university will ensure more consistent delivery, ease of access for its 11,000
staff and eliminate duplication of training.

The university offers more than 600 training programmes and is split into
zones including airport operations, safety, commercial, and planning and
development.

Vacassin also welcomed new passenger traffic figures released last week
which show that the airport industry is on the mend.

The number of passengers passing through UK airports in January was 7.9m,
down just 3.9 per cent on last year compared to November when numbers were down
10.4 per cent year on year.

"It has come back in the same pattern as after the Gulf War, but a
little bit quicker," said Vacassin.

She told Personnel Today that in the aftermath of the crisis the continued
running of the airports was largely due to the flexibility and commitment of
staff.

"After the initial month there was constant reviewing of how the
airport was doing," she said. "We had to increase security and lots
of people were taken away from their day jobs just to keep the airport
running."

By Ross Wigham

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