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Eddie Kilkelly

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How do learning technologies benefit the public sector?

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ILX's Eddie Kilkelly explains the complex world of public sector training needs analysis, and the benefits that learning technologies can bring in a post-recession climate.
Public sector organisations have some of the biggest and most complex learning needs of any sector. Traditionally, they are most likely to have a comprehensive training strategy, aligned to organisational needs, and accreditations such as Investors in People.
The public sector can be constrained in many ways, sometimes risk-averse and this may lead to slower adoption of new learning technologies. With budgets under pressure now is the time to investigate new solutions that enable greater efficiencies in terms of the planning, execution and measurement of learning programmes.  

Planning

Timely, accurate management information can be gained from a modern, technology-based learning management system and, when compared to the organisations strategy and goals, could be used to identify individual and organisational knowledge gaps.
Online assessments can be linked back to competency frameworks and personnel records to specifically measure each individual's existing competence. Development programmes can then be designed to focus on the learning needs of individuals or groups, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Better use is made of the learner's time and organisational resources, generating an increased return on investment.
 
"Learning technologies offer extremely effective solutions for resource-constrained public sector organisations, particularly for repeatable learning and geographically diverse workforces."
It's particularly important to prioritise training needs. Applying Pareto's Principle, better known as the 80:20 rule, HR professionals and line managers should identify the development needs that will deliver the greatest operational benefit and then rank them according to what is practical and affordable.
For example, when organisations need to do more with less, it is essential they become more effective in managing projects. IT services can be delivered more effectively through the use of PRINCE 2® or ITIL®, so all relevant employees should be trained to the same level of competency to ensure optimum application of best practice. The length and depth of the training can be tailored to the organisation's specific needs.

Execution

Technology has made it easier to deliver standardised or tailored training. Blended learning programmes mean classroom training may be substituted or supplemented by more flexible delivery methods, including elearning, mobile learning, online reading or social learning that can reach learners at any time and in any place.

Recently, several high-profile government departments decided to improve the quality of their project management skills. One rolled out a standard elearning programme across the UK. Another needed a more tailored solution, so it used online knowledge tests and an assessment of learning styles to evaluate current capabilities. A blended learning programme was then developed to meet those needs in the most customised and cost-effective manner.  
The current growth areas in learning technologies are mobile learning and just-in-time learning – nuggets of online training integrated into desktop systems or made available via mobile devices, to be accessed whenever they are needed. These solutions can be very useful in project management training, where certain skills are used less frequently than others. For example, a project brief is only written at the start of each project. For each new project, project managers can refresh their memory by undertaking a short training session on how to write a project brief.   

Measurement and ROI

Technology enables more timely and accurate information on training completions, and post-learning assessments may be used to ascertain the return on investment and whether skills gaps have been closed. Better measurement helps the organisation to benchmark the skills of individuals and teams and the maturity of the organisation as a whole, all of which can be fed back into the planning process to improve decision-making and the use of resources. 
Learning technologies offer extremely effective solutions for resource-constrained public sector organisations, particularly for repeatable learning and geographically diverse workforces. In addition, technology can deliver very specific learning at the exact time of need.
The demand for public sector services is only likely to rise, putting a huge strain on public sector organisations, so now is the time to investigate how learning technologies can help employees become more proficient and efficient in their jobs and better able to cope with that increased demand.  
Eddie Kilkelly is Chief Operating Officer for the ILX Group plc.  Eddie has been involved in the Best Practice industry for over fifteen years.  During this time he has worked as both a Project and IT Service Manager and more recently as an implementation consultant providing support to organisations who have adopted the use of Best Practice methods including PRINCE2, MSP and ITIL. 

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Eddie Kilkelly

Managing Director

Read more from Eddie Kilkelly
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