This month’s training news

Many degrees under

University students’ grammar is several degrees under what it should be, according to media training company PMA.

It tested students’ grammar and spelling recently while running roadshows promoting its training courses in Durham, Cambridge, Glasgow, Belfast and London.

PMA chairman Keith Elliott said: “When you consider our tests were completed by hundreds of people who want jobs in the media, the standard was very disappointing.

“Many [of the tests] had more than 30 mistakes and nearly all had more than 10. These were among the elite universities, where you would expect marks to be higher. It’s clear that very few have been taught grammar and many don’t seem to think it’s important.”

One of the sentences that students had to correct was: People who’s test is really good can keep it as a momentoe. Others will definatley want to sieze it, tear it into miniscule peices and liqify it feeling it will effect their chance of a job.

Measure for measure

Many major organisations think the Kirkpatrick model for measuring training effectiveness is inappropriate when it comes to gauging return on investment (ROI).

That is one of the findings of a soon-to-be-published study by e-learning provider SkillSoft. It asked respondents at 16 large global companies how they measured the effectiveness of L&D and how they defined ROI.

Several respondents criticised the widely-used Kirkpatrick model, with one saying it is “rubbish and totally inapplicable”. Generally, most felt Kirkpatrick worked as a guide to learner satisfaction but not as a measure of success.

The study said: “Without exception, none of the organisations we spoke to have an actual definition of ROI in financial terms. In terms of measurement, the emphasis is typically on demonstrating positive impact rather than on cost savings.”

Most respondents said happy sheets and pre- and post-course assessments provided a way to ensure best value from suppliers. They were not a reliable measure of the way learning is applied in the workplace.

IBM, BAE Systems, AstraZeneca and Royal Bank of Scotland were among the companies interviewed.

The Kirkpatrick model measures four elements including the impact on the business of an employee’s training.

Big day dawns

Thursday 25 May is National Learning at Work Day (NLWD), which aims to raise all-round awareness of workplace learning and development.
It is organised and promoted by the Campaign for Learning (CfL), which wants organisations to engage more staff in learning and training and make it fun. For example, Reed Training plans to offer staff, clients and potential customers free bite-sized training sessions, plus Indian head massages, at its central London training centre.

Last year, CfL said about 5,000 organisations took part in NLWD and it expects more to do so this year.

CfL launched NLWD in 1999. It is also offering six people the chance to work in their dream job for a day. If you want to enter, go to:

Learn Britannia

Britannia Building Society has launched a learning academy for 1,000 of its managers.

It has struck a deal with Milton Keynes-based learning provider Minerva, which will provide much of the training at the academy through about 40 learning programmes. These will link to manager performance assessments, which will be carried out at intervals of one, three and six months.

Programmes will be based on what Minerva calls its “unconventional Be Do Win” methodology. This is based on the premise that only by changing people’s beliefs can companies change behaviour, which, in turn, Minerva said “drives improved performance”.

The academy is running four pilot modules, which include meeting management and interviewing skills. Those who pass through it will be graded against three levels depending on their proficiency.

Britannia may seek external accreditation for the academy’s courses and qualifications.

The good Samaritan

The Samaritans is running a series of stress training tasters across the UK.

The charity has developed a course called WorkLife training, which it said can help HR professionals and managers “cope better with stress and emotional issues in the workplace”.

The courses are based on training undertaken by Samaritan counsellors and have been adapted for use with stress-related issues in the workplace.

The training is based on skills that are used by the organisation’s volunteers.

“It uses the skills Samaritans have developed in active listening,” said a spokesman. “The course will help organisations spot early signs of stress and help them to cope with employee stress more effectively.

“We use fictional characters in the training so delegates don’t have to share personal experiences,” he added.

A one-day course will cost about £1,500 for up to 20 delegates. The remaining roadshow dates include Cardiff on 23 May and Bristol on 24 May. For more details, contact organiser Mike Reynolds on 01577 866776.

Focus on the three Rs

Last week saw the launch of Unionlearn, a TUC-backed learning initiative that will focus on workplace learning.

Unionlearn should, according to the TUC, help 250,000 employees a year learn various skills, with the initial focus on literacy and numeracy training. It will also seek to recruit up to 22,000 learning representatives by 2010.

Director Liz Smith admitted these targets are “challenging, but we are confident about achieving them”.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber wants employers to help. “Employers need to step up to the challenge of workplace learning, with more support for learning reps, time off to train and a decent wage for apprenticeships,” he said.

The Department for Education and Skills is a partner in the £4.5m scheme.

LSC dispute rumbles along

Public sector union PCS said it is quite prepared to disrupt the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) if talks over layoffs fail.

A PCS spokesman said: “Although we hope to reach a negotiated settlement, there could be regional actions that may disrupt the LSC in June. As yet, there are no dates set for formal negotiations.”

About 2,000 PSC members went on a one-day strike on 28 April. They account for about 60% of the LSC’s 3,900 staff.

It wants to shed more than 1,000 posts to save £40m a year. About 600 staff have reportedly volunteered for redundancy.

Meanwhile, the LSC has called on 16- to 18-year-olds to compete for five-day work-experience placements with a difference. They include stints with TV chef Gordon Ramsey, football club Charlton Athletic and teen magazine Sugar. Go to to apply.

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