Whitbread and Thirdforce achieve early skills for life success

Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group and ThirdForce a provider of technology enabled learning solutions have announced today, just five weeks into their phase one pilot programme that 16 Whitbread employees have already successfully gained National Skills for Life Qualifications.

Whitbread signed up to the Skills Pledge in 2007 and Marian Graveson the Apprenticeship Programme Manager has been instrumental in developing the ‘Whitbread Apprenticeship Programme’ with Skills for Life qualifications being used to provide a large element of the Key Skills provision in the innovative ‘Whitbread Model’ approach to Apprenticeship and NVQ delivery.

Delivery of the Skills for Life provision has been offered to all Whitbread employees at the pilot sites through a blended e-learning solution provided by ThirdForce.

The ThirdForce el-box touch screen tablet PC delivery method helped to facilitate anywhere, anytime access to learning for employees.

ThirdForce e-learning is being used successfully to underpin Skills for Life delivery with the addition of a team of dedicated professional Learning Support Managers (LSMs), who provide the necessary on-site additional guidance, support and assessment for learners as appropriate.

Unprecedented numbers of learners, over 120 employees, have now completed literacy and numeracy diagnostic assessments and 16 have actually passed the National Skills for Life exam with Edexcel as the awarding body.

These astonishing results have been achieved at the early stages of a four month long pilot scheme at 16 of Whitbread’s sites with a full rollout planned for March 2009 at all Whitbread sites nationally, which number 650 in total.

Phil Dickson the GM of the Premier Inn Portland Street Manchester commented:

“This programme shows strong forward thinking on behalf of Whitbread, in the current economic climate when most businesses may be reducing costs on training, Whitbread is driving forward to continue to develop its people to increase skills.  I am proud that we are leading the way.”

Katy Green (learner) commented:

“As the New Starter Champion I thought it was important that I lead by example.  My role includes coaching others and I wanted to make sure I understood what was involved.  I really enjoyed completing this programme, it has been a few years since I left school so it was good to refresh my knowledge. 

“My tutor was excellent and very helpful and made sure I was ready for my tests by keeping me to my learning plan.  The programme also lets you practise before you take your test. 

“I will be recommending this to all of the team at the Premier Inn at Portland Street, Manchester, and especially for all new team members who have completed their induction because they are already half way through their Whitbread Apprenticeship, so I say why would you not want to do this, it’s great for your own development too.”

The ThirdForce Skills for Life solution enabled Whitbread to confidently outsource the entire Skills for Life delivery requirement of their NVQ/Apprenticeship programme and has resulted in significantly faster completion times and learner engagement compared with more traditional methods of Skills for Life delivery.

Alan Maguire Managing Director of ThirdForce commented:

“ThirdForce congratulates both Whitbread and the learners themselves on this significant achievement. This early success illustrates what can be achieved when two partners collaborate around our unique ‘One stop shop’ blended Skills for Life learning solution.

“ThirdForce is proud to have partnered with Whitbread in their innovative apprenticeship programme and look forward to continued success for all involved.”

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