From education to employment

Championing training

Three key figures from the world of business spoke to FE News about the importance of training and shared some of their good practice with us; at the recent National Training Awards ceremony.

Theo Paphitis, chairman of Ryman’s Stationary and star of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den programme, who presented the awards, said training was not talked about, but without it none of us would have a business.

“We are in what is the most serious downturn in history,” said Paphitis.

“The only way we can survive is to ensure that we have the skills to stay competitive. It’s a no brainer, without it we would not have the skills we need, without it we would not be competitive, without it our business would cost a lot, lot more.”

Chris Banks, chair of the Winner of the Year panel and founder of the Independent College Partnership, which supports FE colleges to become mutuals, felt it was important to celebrate outstanding training that delivered for the employers, individuals and the communities they served.
“At the heart is the [training] provider,” said Banks.

“The better, more efficient and focused a provider can be, the more value we can add as a sector to individuals and their communities.

Meanwhile, Andy Cross, director of learning and development at BT, explained why the company had been shortlisted for two awards at the event.
Firstly, they re-wrote the training programme for those going into consumer sales; the people who answer the phone when you want a phone line or request BT vision, explained Cross.

“The training was taking 19 weeks, you can train a pilot in less time,” he said.

The company canvassed managers for ideas like re-writing the advert so it clearly explained the role, and they have brought training time down to eight weeks, cutting costs by £1.2m.

“By making it far more brand, mindset product led rather than teaching them every aspect of the job; people came out able to sell far better than their colleagues in the contact centres,” he continued.

The company was also nominated for iTool, an iPad style e-learning app, which allows managers to train sales staff to use BT’s new product directory.
“All of the training we do is grounded in improving customer service here at BT, and we are always looking for those innovative ways of doing that,” he added.

Rachel Salmon

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