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A round-up of training news


Donald Taylor to Give OnLine Talk...Online!

Donald Taylor, a regular contributor to, is giving a free webinar talk, online on 6 March at 10.00am. Donald, the chairman of the Learning and Skills Group and chairman of the Learning Technologies conference, will be talking about: What Makes Online Training Work – And What Doesn’t?

"Synchronous online training can be very effective – when done right," he says. In this presentation, he will examine the potential pitfalls and tips for success in using synchronous learning, including: ensuring interaction, dealing with difference sizes of audience, and using online classrooms as part of a learning mix. You can sign up by following this link: Webinar registration

e-Learning Project of the Year

LINE Communications collected the award for e-learning project of the year at the IT Training Awards – as we reported last week.

The company scooped the accolade for developing two cultural awareness programmes for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for training servicemen before active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LINE developed a highly interactive, scenario-based e-learning programme and a commander's briefing pack with accompanying visuals for when training is face to face.

The awarding judges were particularly "impressed with the programme's completely user-centred approach and its excellent embedded use of video diaries."

Such was the success of the programme within the UK that the MoD released the materials for use amongst other NATO allies. Around 35,000 troops have used the learning materials so far.

Major Chris Edwards (MoD) commented: "Through imaginative and highly interactive screens a soldier is able to grasp both the theoretical concepts and practical applicability in a very short space of time. Through the use of this programme, force protection has been enhanced and rapport gained with the local communities much quicker than had otherwise been possible.

"The innovative way in which the programme has been developed means that future deployments to other geographical locations can be developed quickly, in order to meet the cultural difference there also."

This is the second major award for the programme. In September 2007 it won the coveted Brandon Hall gold award for Excellence in Learning against strong international competition.

Student Loans Company Pioneers Phone Rage Training

The Student Loans Company (SLC) says it is leading the way in tackling the 'phone rage' problems faced by telephone operators. The organisation, which employs 1,400 people, has pioneered a new cutting edge training course for call centre operators.

SLC has seen its operators' morale improve, fewer calls escalated to team leaders and the number of customer service complaints down by 10 per cent since it introduced the psychological approach to handling difficult calls.

Major organisations including London's Metropolitan Police, the Scottish Government, NHS and local councils, are now looking to adopt the approach.

SLC trainer Alexis Farndell, who developed the course, said: "We have taken recognised techniques and added another layer - the 'why'. We change the mindset of the operator from victim to controller, get them to recognise the signs of anger and accept that it is not their fault.

"Our no blame culture approach allows people to think about their own behaviour, to be introspective and apply their own boundaries. We are talking about emotional intelligence and that depends on many things - our upbringing, and our cultural and religious backgrounds. We are all different and find different things offensive.

"We empower our people to decide the boundaries of the behaviour they will accept and to end a call if they feel they have to. Some companies might put the blame on the operator. If our people hang up, it is because they are in charge."

Ms Farndell explained that, for example, swearing upsets some people, but not others. She said: "Swearing in itself is not a 'rage call'. Many companies have an 'end call' policy if a caller starts swearing, but there are many more subtle ways of bullying."

The SLC training shows staff how to recognise the signs of aggression and to distinguish between anger and aggression.
Ms Farndell said: "The vast majority of our customers act very reasonably. But at times, people have a right to be angry - we might have made a mistake.

"This training helps our staff deal with the small proportion of calls that are difficult to handle - when a caller becomes aggressive and makes a personal attack on the operator. That is when anger, which may be perfectly acceptable, becomes rage and is unacceptable."

SLC chief executive, Ralph Seymour-Jackson said: "There are many other training programmes for call centre operators, but it is our approach that sets us apart and identifies us as 'best in class'.

"It is an unexpected bonus that it has been recognised and is appreciated by other organisations."

BILD Loves its First Birthday

The British Institute for Learning and Development says it wants to become "the UK's leading individual membership organisation, representing the interests of all learning and development professionals."

Valentines Day marked the end of a busy first year for the Institute - in the intervening 12 months it has re-branded, re-located and realigned its membership structure.

The introduction of individual membership categories mapped against qualifications and experience now offers a professional recognition path for individuals working within L&D at all levels. Detailed criteria for eligibility at affiliate; associate; member and fellow grades are set out on the Institute's website.

The same membership options are now also available to qualifying applicants who work for employers previously represented solely as organisations.

For further details see

Training Scholarships Up For Grabs

Skillsmart Retail and Retail Trust are offering more training scholarships after gifted managers snapped up their previous awards.

The two not-for-profit companies are calling for retail managers to apply for 10 bursaries, for a place at the Oxford Summer School in August.

The summer school will take place at Keble College, Oxford from 16-22 August. It gives rising stars of the retail sector a chance to deal with the problems and challenges encountered when running a retail business. If will focus specifically on leadership, finance, merchandising, marketing and retail space. There will be guest lecturers, issue-driven discussions, team-building events and a black tie ball.

The bursaries are open to all retail managers from UK companies that have less than 250 employees, and owner managers are especially welcome to apply.

Those interested in making an application should download an application form from the events section of or visit or for further information. The closing date for applications is 25 April.

Bosses Asked to Bank Bright Ideas

Ideas UK - the national association of suggestion schemes - is expanding its well established National Ideas Day into National Ideas Week for 2008, to inspire innovation and tap into talent at work.

During the second week of March – to coincide with the anniversary of Einstein's birth - brainstorming breakfasts will be held across the UK and employers are encouraged to create office think tanks and open ideas banks.

An annual members survey by Ideas UK – a not-for-profit organisation - found that over £32 million was saved by businesses in 2007 through suggestions schemes.

Over 60,000 ideas sent in by Ideas UK members and over 35% of all ideas received were implemented to bring both tangible and intangible benefits to business. The association will use National Ideas Week to highlight the business benefits of staff participation in everything from strategic planning to greening the office.

Anthony Denatale, operations manager for Ideas UK, says: "Is your business lost for ideas when it comes to running a suggestions scheme? Or has your current plan fallen out of use - and out of favour? National Ideas Week is a chance for employers to explore practical ways of turning bright ideas into better business."

With over 20 years' experience of successful staff suggestion schemes, Ideas UK provides guidance, training and set-up support for organisations developing their own reward and recognition programmes.

Members have access to their own area on its website, an online discussion group and regular networking meetings. New members are issued with an ideas 'toolbox', giving all the components for a successful suggestions scheme, and an evaluation tool to check how the scheme is measuring up. Members can apply for a prestigious Ideas UK silver, gold or platinum accreditation award, and the association also runs an annual 'Idea of the Year' competition.

The association is organising a series of free breakfast seminars in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff during the week. Bookings can be made by contacting Ideas UK on 02920 020 608.

News In Brief

  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing has appointed Sir Paul Judge as its president. Sir Paul is a well know advocate of professional standards within the marketing profession and has extensive experience of senior business leadership in both the private and public sector.

  • The first piece of UK-wide research that will highlight the business benefits of training in the food and drink manufacturing industry has been commissioned by sector skills council Improve. The four-month study will involve a comprehensive survey of more than 200 food and drink manufacturers and will pull together relevant findings from existing research dedicated to the value of skills. Results from the research are expected in May.
  • Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing 500,000 people in more than 11,000 workplaces, with a turnover of £74 billion per year. However more than half the workforce is not qualified above Level Two - the equivalent of five GCSEs - and 28 per cent lack any basic skills.

  • TrainerBase, the Association for Learning Practitioners, is launching a local strategy that will engage with the needs of members at a local level.
    Greater support for local chapters includes sourcing venues, regionalised email marketing, sourcing of sponsors and a dedicated web presence for each group showing future dates and topics.

    A representative of TrainerBase will also be attending each event to help with queries and to bring members up to date with developments.


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