The best of British

UK is poor at blowing its own trumpet. Patrick McCurry sets the record straight
by asking readers to nominate the best home-grown training concepts of all time

think of the US as the launch pad of new people development ideas, yet many of
the staples of the modern approaches to training come from UK shores. For
example, British comedian John Cleese was probably the first to imagine that
instructional films could be humorous when he co-founded Video Arts back in
1972, and nearly 60 countries watch those films now. And as executive chairman
of KnowledgePool David Wimpress points out, his company claims to be the first
to create an e-learning service over the Internet, in 1995. Self-managed
learning, which gathered a group of individuals together to work on their own
learning projects, is believed to have come from Roffey Park. So to celebrate
the fact that this edition of Training is circulated around the globe, we
canvassed opinion on the best of British training ideas of recent decades.

Chief executive, Springboard Consultancy

would argue that a personal development approach to training, while not necessarily
invented in the UK, is an area in which a number of British training companies
enjoy an international reputation.

holistic approach to development, which does not just focus on someone’s job,
is becoming increasingly popular, and the UK is at the forefront in this trend.

Senior partner, Personnel Works

would put forward the Management Charter Initiative (MCI), which was launched
in the 1980s, as one of Britain’s best training ideas. Although the MCI did not
take off in a major way, the thinking behind it was sound.

grew out of the whole move in Britain away from an apprentice-based “time
served” approach to one that asked whether people could actually do the jobs
they were supposed to do.

trend of looking for evidence of people’s skills spilled into management
development and was embodied in the MCI. It represented a departure from a
broad-brush approach to training to one that questioned managers’ particular

Adviser (training and development), CIPD

was a pioneer of outdoor development, in which individuals are taken from their
normal surroundings and given tasks to complete in a challenging, environment.
The exercises really stretch people and because team members are dressed for
the outdoors, with no suits and ties, it helps reduce barriers between
colleagues and is good for team building. The concept has spread to the US and
has now been taken up in continental Europe.

Assessment centre co-ordinator, Shepherd Corporate Services

would nominate NVQs as one of Britain’s positive contributions to training.
While the NVQ system has come in for a fair amount of criticism, if they are
implemented effectively, they provide a flexible and powerful work-based
training plan.

great benefit is that they recognise an individual’s experience and require
evidence of how actual skills and knowledge are applied in the workplace.

in the construction industry, NVQs have become a growing standard for measuring
skills. For example, the Chartered Institute of Building now recognises for
membership those who achieve NVQ Level 5 in construction contracts management.

Chief knowledge manager, BT

learning, as many people know, was invented in the UK and is one of our biggest
contributions to training. I’ve always found it a very effective way of
training and developing people, as well as team building.

BT we have used several British training companies specialising in the area,
and a number of our overseas joint venture partners have sent their people on
courses in the UK.

experiential learning benefits of action-centred learning are very powerful in
teambuilding, problem-solving and development.

Technical and training director, LGH Group

used to provide excellent “hands-on” training that was the envy of the world
but has sadly been lost, as those with the experience and expertise have
retired. What has replaced it does not cover the more traditional skills that
were commonplace, particularly within the engineering and construction

is good at problem-solving and innovative training techniques at local level,
but the enthusiasm wanes when obstacles are created by well-intentioned
government bodies in charge of training and funding.

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