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LearningWire #96 – Senge on learning, implications of IR35, training survey results, HRD report


LearningWIRE #96 10 April 2000 The Learning Community


1. Embrace ignorance and incompetence
2. New training survey shows trainers are getting more wired
3. Yet more competition in online course information
4. Freelance Trainers and IR35
5. Feedback on HRD 2000


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Embrace ignorance and incompetence
Peter Senge flew in from the States to give an engaging and entertaining three-hour master class at the start of HRD 2000. Over 400 delegates from around the world participated in an open conversation with this 'guru' of systems thinking and organisational learning. Although billed as focusing on strategies for sustaining learning, his remarks (all without notes) focused more on our acquired barriers to learning, and the management steps required to create effective organisational learning. Two ideas remain with me today: the notion of team capabilities, rather than team competencies; and the concept of managers as change nurturers, rather than change drivers. Senge also spoke briefly about his forthcoming book which looks at how schools can be transformed from teaching organisations to learning organisations; a long overdue development, we suggest! The event received a warm welcome and you can read our summary and commentary on it at:

New training survey shows trainers are getting more wired
The IPD released details of their most recent training survey which shows an increasing use of new technology and web-based learning in organisational approaches to learning. The report documents some of the trends we have experienced and provides evidence to support the changes. A summary is available at:

Strengthening workplace learning
Also released at HRD 2000 is a new consultation paper from the IPD proposing ways in which the present dis-jointed approach to workplace learning can be enhanced and promoted. The report contains an analysis of the present situation, and suggests action on several fronts by companies, infrastructure bodies and government to enable workplace learning to link more effectively to productivity. access only)

Blunkett warns of the misuse of technology in HR
In an engaging short speech, David Blunkett pored scorn on some aspects of present government implementation of HR policies (who are we to talk about a work/life balance), whilst also bursting a few ripe balloons with his attack on new terminology (lets talk about personnel management, not human resource management; 'resource' sounds like 'exhaust') and misused new technology (one finger typing by managers is hardly an increase in productivity over skilled secretaries).

Other HRD 2000 stories
Throughout the week, TrainingZone covered more than a dozen stories arising at the conference and exhibition. You can scan the headlines and synopses at training-related stories) HR-related stories)

Poor Performers workshop
This week's online workshop focuses on Poor Performers at Work. Led by experienced management consultant Penny Sharland, it's an opportunity to explore such issues as: how do we identify them; who takes the responsibility; what do we do to improve the situation. Can and join in from your desk: Tuesday 13:00 BST at

33million GBP to boost learning for 16-19 year olds
David Blunkett has announced a significant increase in the budget for post-16 education together with new arrangements for allowances for those who stay on in school.

Individual Learning Accounts are on the way
With the national roll out of ILAs due this financial year, the DfEE has set up a website providing all the latest information on the scheme, including questions and answers and a news update. One to watch if your company is going to get involved.

Yet more competition in online course information
Anyone visiting the HRD Exhibition, could not fail to notice the two dominant themes this year. Online learning companies are making a big play for market share. At least a dozen companies had taken prominent stands, each displaying the best of their content and technology. I'm still disappointed at how much of the content continues to relate to IT training, and how little of the other 'soft skills' content is genuinely interactive; there's a huge gap to make up here. On the technology side, most of the products offered a range of 'knobs and whistles' such as learner tracking, account management, tutorial support, customised interfaces, etc. The explanations were excellent; what was much harder to get was information about just how many online courses each of these companies is currently selling.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the hall, a range of online course/event listing services were living almost on top of each other. were making all the big noise (quite literally, with their drums!), and http://www.trainingdirectory.comwere celebrating their first year with a new (and much better!) interface. The emphasis is definitely on making the search experience easier. Two new launches were http://www.worldoftraining.comwith its wide range of technical and generalist courses in an online directory, and the preliminary announcement of http://www.bookacourse.comwhich is currently focused on IT training courses but plans to include other topics also. Again, each service has a range of additional tools and products to offer in their interface. A comparative review will follow before long.

Meanwhile, the old established 'human' and paper-based providers of this sort of directory, booking and brokerage service are not prepared to take the competition lying down. The Training Index has had a relatively long existence supplying corporate buyers with information: watch out for an imminent announcement. And at least one of the other services is looking to respond also.

IT contractors look elsewhere as IR35 hits home
Only 40 per cent of IT contractors in the UK will remain as contractors after the introduction of IR35, according to the results of an on-line survey of contractors published by Contractor UK. The statistic tallies closely with the results of a poll carried out by Shout99 which came up with the worrying statistic that 34 per cent of its respondents were waiting to emigrate.

Feedback on HRD 2000
We'd appreciate your comments and reactions, as a delegate, visitor, exhibitor or speaker. We'll create a published report, so please add your comments to

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Any Answers?
This area of the site is taking off quite dramatically with a host of new questions and answers posted every week. It's a great place to seek inspiration and get help.

* Question of the Week *:
Freelance Trainers and IR35
Graham King asks: What happens to trainers booked on a daily basis?
I have been following some of the IR35 debates but must confess to being a little confused about my position. After seeking help from my accountant and the IR web pages I do not seem to be any the wiser, so here are my questions:
1. If a freelance trainer operating as a sole trader is booked on a daily basis, but most of his work comes from one source, is there any problem with IR35? From what I have gleaned so far, a sole trader will already be paying Tax and NICs so there isn't a problem.
2. What happens if the freelance trainer is a Ltd company, getting booked on a daily basis but with most of the income coming from one source? Is the problem with IR35 only for those Ltd companies where dividends are used to avoid paying tax/NICs or any Ltd company?

Incidentally, our coverage of IR35 issues is provided by AccountingWeb, our companion community and can be found at

** Just what skills are required for e-job searching on the web?

** Need guidelines for framing multiple choice test questions

** Accelerated Learning Techniques to use in IT Training

Can you answer any at the Comments facility to send your response to the questioner.

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