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Online workshop report: experiences with government training schemes


This is the transcript from the online workshop held on the topic of experiencies of government training schemes on Tuesday 10 October 2000.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Michael. We'll just wait to see who else turns up.

Michiel Erasmus Hi Steph....yes, ok.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Sally - we'll just wait a few minutes to see who else comes along.

Stephanie Phillips We really need three or four people to get things going, so hopefully there will be a bit more interest shortly.

Marie Chambers Hi everyone.

Stephanie Phillips Michiel, out of interest, where are you logging on from - looks like a far-off e-mail address!

Stephanie Phillips Hi Marie. Just waiting a few more minutes.............

Michiel Erasmus za for South Africa....I was in UK last week.

Stephanie Phillips Great! It'll be good to have a view on how the UK compares with South Africa on this.

Michiel Erasmus I'll be happy to give an opinion...interesting with UK situation as I observed during my visit the last two weeks.

Stephanie Phillips Shall we start with introductions then?

Michiel Erasmus Yes please go ahead.

Marie Chambers I'm a Training Co-Ordinator with a private organisation.

Sally Coady I'm Sally Coady, chief executive of learning world in Gateshead - based at the biggest shopping centre in Europe. We are heavily involved with New Deal but most of our work is FEFC funded.

Stephanie Phillips Okay. Stephanie Phillips, Editor, TrainingZONE, one previous life was as Training Officer for Museums in Liverpool, experience of modern apprenticeships, NVQ and positive action schemes there.

Stephanie Phillips Michiel, how about you?

Michiel Erasmus I'm an IT management consultant but also train in IT related programs and lecture at MBA level at University Business schools on subjects of E-commerce and Management Information systems. Provide consulting and training services from South Africa and UK.

Stephanie Phillips Great. So, various governments have been behind a number of different schemes here over the years. Any thoughts on which have been the most/least successful?
Michiel Erasmus With here you mean ...UK ?

Stephanie Phillips Yes - I guess it will be easier for us to discuss the UK in detail, with some reference to South Africa if you'd like to add any thoughts.

Michiel Erasmus Yes, of the focus for discussion is on UK schemes....

Sally Coady We know that recent research has shown that New Deal has not been very successful at getting people into jobs. We have just bid to the innovations fund to try a new approach which will involve more emphasis on the emotional and psychological aspects of the whole process.

Michiel Erasmus Sally....what was the primary reason for that approach failing ?

Stephanie Phillips Sally - sounds interesting, d'you want to tell us a bit more?

Stephanie Phillips We know that the government are keen to tell us all about the statistics...............!

Sally Coady I haven't read the research only the press coverage of it! My guess is that 6 months on training courses is not enough to turn round a life time of problems diminishing confidence and fear of failure- what is needed is real learning of the sort which can change people's lives but that is expensive and difficult to provide.

Michiel Erasmus Sally and Steph..which scheme is the best one currently in you're opinion?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Susan. Just getting started with some introductions (check the transcript to see what's happened so far).

Michiel Erasmus And secondly...are any schemes working ...for the people who received the training ?

Susan McGaughran My apologies for being late - Aol at lunchtime I'm afraid.

Sally Coady My only involvement with modern apprentices is as an employer and this has been very successful but the young people in question were bright and highly motivated.

Stephanie Phillips Well, of the schemes I've had experience of directly, I'd say Modern Apprenticeships - a good way to get keen youngsters into the world of work!

Sally Coady We agree then - what do you do to turn those who have been turned off back on.

Michiel Erasmus Any views on schemes that exposes young people to the knowledge worker environment in UK ?

Stephanie Phillips Michiel - I'm not sure I know what the concept means? D'you want to explain?

Michiel Erasmus Current trends in US indicate that information knowledge workers have a ratio of 4 to 1 over 'traditional' workers.

Susan McGaughran I am chairman of Training by Design global Ltd and we deal now solely with Manchester TEC and advanced apprenticeships as they are now called and yes they are a good way to introduce youngsters to the work place.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Susan - any thoughts on what doesn't work?

Michiel Erasmus Knowledge worker will predominantly work with information and knowledge.....i.e. Lecturer, Trainers, Teachers, Information specialists, etc.

Susan McGaughran Yes... the idea that an NVQ should not involve learning just info gathering.

Stephanie Phillips Michiel - I'm pretty sure that Modern Apprenticeships work in these areas too.

Stephanie Phillips All Modern Apprentices have to work towards NVQ, don't they?

Michiel Erasmus Isn't it a case that a need assessment, on what the economy and country requires from future workforce, is not undertaken.

Ruth Churchill As a National Training Organisation, we do much research into skills gaps. We're seeing an increase in the number of IT needs in the arts & entertainments sector, which is partly due to increasing gap at graduate level between lecturers and students in IT and knowledge-based skills.

Susan McGaughran Yes, but other stuff can be included to switch on and get a balance of interest.

Stephanie Phillips Can we go back to Sally's question about how to get those involved who are disaffected and switched off. Any thoughts?

Ruth Churchill Modern Apprenticeships have been difficult to promote with the previous system due to arbitrary nature of funding. Hopefully this will be more rationalised in the new LSC's.

Michiel Erasmus Isn't it a case of needing to match the interest of the individual to the skills required by the economy ?

Susan McGaughran We include a paralegal model, IT and internet and web design including multimedia which young people get switched on with. All good stuff for key skills.

Ruth Churchill It's interesting to see how New Deal for musicians has tackled the disaffected indirectly. Its early days but the impact of music on people's confidence as well as competence is being proven.

Michiel Erasmus isn't it a problem to use that medium (Internet etc) for 'soft' skills....

Susan McGaughran Michael... You are so right we need to groom for real work and for the standards required by industry. You cannot in my opinion use the Internet solely for "soft skills" but the workshop approach works.

Ruth Churchill IT can and should be used very much as a tool to enhance and complement the softer skills, but by no means replace them, or over-ride them. Impact analyses of a recent on-line learning programme has shown the increased capacity of users to be able to communicate and develop softer skills because of their increased knowledge and confidence using web environments for learning.

Sally Coady We have been providing New Deal trainees with a flexible tailored range of learning opportunities in IT for over 1 year and so far two of them have taken up employment in this sector- that is actually a good statistic especially as they have both become trainers - their knowledge and skills will be vital helping others to move towards success.

Susan McGaughran Confidence gained in any medium promotes a learning switch on.

Michiel Erasmus So Susan is it a case to combine 'new' medium (Internet, etc.) and workshop with traditional means to get the 'perfect' training environment ?

Susan McGaughran Yes, but I am not good with concepts of perfect, Michiel - good ,even excellent, but not perfect.

Ruth Churchill Michiel - yes definitely. At the end of the day its not an ideal world and humans need human interaction to see role models or develop better understanding how their skills can be implemented.

Stephanie Phillips Michiel - do you want to briefly describe what happens in South Africa, so we can compare?

Michiel Erasmus The problem with technology is that the 'emotional' aspect cannot be conveyed accurately via the Internet...or electronically.

Susan McGaughran What about video cameras?

Michiel Erasmus Currently in SA a scheme driven by the new Government is being implemented....

Stephanie Phillips Along these sort of lines?

Michiel Erasmus All companies with turnover above certain amount needs to Industry.

Lesley I have been involved in training new deal people for the role of a bus driver. we use computers as a learning tool - it is very difficult sometimes when the candidate has not even turned one on before, but they do see the significance of its use.

Stephanie Phillips Lesley, thanks. I guess they gain additional skills this way?

Ruth Churchill One big turn off, even for highly committed learners, is the enormous amount of un-joined-up thinking going on between goverment departments, UfI, etc. With no disrespect intended because it is extremely hard to achieve, I still don't think this scattergun approach to learning infrastructures helps individuals who really don't have an idea of where it all fits ion the bigger picture - and why should they. Employers could be better served to have an overview, which is partly what NTO's are trying to do in partnership with Unions, etc.

Michiel Erasmus Every Industry has organised themselves into a Training Board that oversees training for that particular industry.

Stephanie Phillips Ruth, good point! Michiel - these training boards must be like NTOs here?

Ruth Churchill It's interesting to see the NTO Network approach in South Africa, Michiel - are the Training Boards also standards setting bodies for training quality and assessment?

Michiel Erasmus Very similar to NTO's in UK....but still fairly new...and it does not have the support from all companies...

Lesley It is a way of preparing them for the use of the only real technology they would use - the ticket machine
Michiel Erasmus in SA...a body called the SAQF was formed to set standards...SAQF South Africa Qualification Framework.

Michiel Erasmus The SAQF drives the standards....

Ruth Churchill How do they secure industry endorsement? Some NTO's do it here through a levy scheme, but we can't do that in a largely voluntary sector. Instead we involve unions on board and all industry representative bodies in consultation and design of learning frameworks.

Ruth Churchill Its not easy though when the whole culture shift towards new approaches to learning is taken on board by some and not by others - and the gap is increasing between the haves and the have nots at an alarming speed.

Michiel Erasmus SA every company with turnover SAR 250000 (+_ £ 25000) pays a levy of a certain & of monthly turnover on a monthly basis.

Stephanie Phillips Ruth, agree that the 'have nots' are losing out, despite these schemes.

Ruth Churchill Which, of course isn't helped by the numerous government initiatives with conflicting objectives, funding, and delivery mechanisms. Sorry - am I hogging?!

Stephanie Phillips LearnDirect is going to have to handle this issue, I feel.

Michiel Erasmus Isn't it a case of motivation of the individual as well....

Susan McGaughran Ruth you are spot on. Do we have any answers though?

Susan McGaughran Yes Michiel, but the kids are up against it in junior roles and little experience when even the over 35's are struggling to keep up with the changes.

Ruth Churchill In a recent programme for on-line learning where we established and built capacity of five physical learning clusters in UK, some of them two years on have sustainability plans involving up to 20 different new initiatives just to keep their learning programme running. The pressure on these small business is huge, but the outcomes have been fantastic in bringing some of these external funding partners together properly.

Lesley Ruth - no - it is very interesting.

Michiel Erasmus I know it could be a sensitive issue in the UK...but the impact/safety net of 'dole' on the individual could deter him/her to really develop...

Susan McGaughran Also new zones like this one help, and yes, the benefit link does affect the view of the individual as to the purpose of the training.

Ruth Churchill I absolutely agree Michiel - in fat, in the learning programme I just mentioned (NetGAIN) the majority of learners who were claiming job seekers allowance ended up being excluded because of EU bureaucracy which I won't bore you with here, but was too inflexible to get them through the system.

Michiel Erasmus But it is a fact that needs to be faced in the global competitive environment that the individual will need to continuously develop him/herself, else they will find it difficult to keep a job.

Susan McGaughran Its is sad, as those unemployed will need training most and for a lot its a disaster area.

Ruth Churchill Not to mention the decrease in self-esteem this engendered as the learners who were professional arts practitioners and trainers without a current contract were labelled 'dolers' and therefore part of the problem.

Stephanie Phillips Susan - there were some figures out about the divide in London a while ago - making for disappointing reading.

Susan McGaughran Stephanie you only have to look at the North figures also to see the problems.

Stephanie Phillips There's no quick fix, is there? Some of the problem has to go back to being 'turned off' from learning at school.

Susan McGaughran No quick fixes that I have found but there is a must have it all now fixation which gets in the way as learning needs time to bed in.

Michiel Erasmus Could anyone enlighten me on whether the schemes that fails in analysed and measured to ascertain where it went wrong ?

Stephanie Phillips Good question!

Lesley I travel around England and Scotland delivering new deal training. I have found some strong regional 'learning barriers'.

Stephanie Phillips Lesley, what sort of things?

Susan McGaughran The lack of information about LSC funding and transitional arrangements does not help providers seeking to offer continuity of learning.

Ruth Churchill There's a very interesting (but long) document analyzing the impact of all the education and training initiatives - the Education and training Development Agenda 2000-01. I found it on TZ. Maybe more stuff like this should be published heralding the solutions to some of these problems and really influencing policy making for the next five years. That coupled with a government with long term strategies should do the trick!

Stephanie Phillips We'll try to unearth some more information for the site, particularly on the LSC - it's difficult to come by!

Stephanie Phillips We need to wind things up shortly, can we end on an optimistic note?!

Susan McGaughran I had a meeting with the TEC last week they know less than me it appeared and are having similar problems with their own business planning.

Ruth Churchill There are definitely solutions out there, lets shout more loudly about them and make sure we're not discussing the same issues again in ten years!

Susan McGaughran It is getting better with the introduction of ILA accounts and the numbers of apprenticeships achieving and of course meeting here to put the world to rights!

Stephanie Phillips Yes, hopefully it's a chance to let off a bit of steam!

Stephanie Phillips Any other final comments?

Michiel Erasmus Learning and Education the responsibility of a Government to set the framework and policies to foster and develop it. But it will require sound strategies and measurements to measure the 'end product'....If the end product is not being delivered (for the benefit of the country and the individual in general) then the whole issue would need a relook.

Stephanie Phillips Michiel, thanks, definitely agree. There can be too much concentration on 'getting the numbers through the system' on the government's part, I think.

Ruth Churchill Thanks for this, and bye.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, let's wind things up. Thanks all for taking part.

Susan McGaughran Thank you for the opportunity to enter such a stimulating debate.

Stephanie Phillips Hope to see you all at another workshop in the near future!


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