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The year in training


As the new year began, The Campaign for Learning launched a new campaign to encourage people to turn their new year resolutions into real learning plans. Called 'Mind Out for the Millennium', the campaign focused particularly on encouraging older people back into learning.

It may have been the beginning of the year, but well-known trainer and consultant Peter Honey was looking much further back - 40 years, in fact - to review how change has affected the world of training over the years.

In the January issue of the TrainingSuperSite magazine, another feature article suggests 'The Shape of Things to Come' for trainers, visualising a world which is really quite different to that with which we are presently familiar.

In February, a group of enterprising training practitioners based around North West England sets up the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL). The Institute aims to be 'for trainers, by trainers' and to interest itself in accreditation and standards as well as other issues.

Looking further afield, the President of the European Parliament's Education Council, Guilherme Oliveira Martins, sets out exciting priorities in the field of education and training at a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Education and Youth.

In March, new research commissioned by training provider NETg shows that the gap between the number of IT-related jobs and the number of people with relevant skills to fill them continues to grow, citing one of the causes as a lack of understanding on the part of HR professionals.

March was also budget month, and we brought you all the implications for training and business as it happened, including the introduction of tax breaks to develop e-commerce activities and online learning.

Come April, come the HRD show at Olympia, and a three-hour masterclass from Peter Senge. Over 400 delegates from around the world participated in an open conversation with this 'guru' of systems thinking and organisational learning. TrainingZONE had a stand at the event and provided an ongoing commentary throughout.

A new standard for Investors in People launched, with the aim of simplifying the performance indicators and streamlining the process of accreditation. The old standards can continue to be used until 31 December 2000.

A group of training organisations and providers of vocational training join forces to form the Association of Learning Providers, with the aim of forming a coherent group with which to lobby government.

May was the month LearningWire celebrated its 100th birthday, and took the opportunity to look back at the articles TrainingZONE members had rated as top topics since it began. This was followed by edition 101, and a heated debate around what should be consigned to Room 101 to boot!

On 25 May, the annual Learning at Work Day saw hundreds of companies around the country taking time to put training first. Among the fun and games on offer, senior managers were busy stepping into the shoes of junior staff and staff were being given learning time of their own during the day. Evaluation of training may often be regarded as a 'holy grail', but the Industrial Society this month finds that the need for business efficiency is making it a goal which is increasingly being aimed for and achieved.

Good news comes this month from the European Commission, which this month agrees funding for a 7-year project aimed at shaking up education, training and employment policies and systems within the UK. The Community Support Framework to be finalised in June will receive 6.3bn pounds from a number of sources, including the British public sector and the European Union.

Finally, the vice-chancellor of the Open University strikes a blow for traditional methods of delivering training amongst all the e-learning hype, by stating that print on paper is likely to remain the most powerful learning medium, at least for university learning. Speaking from a university perspective, Sir John Daniel argued that using technology for learning doesn't take into account the complexities of higher education learning.

In June, TrainingZONE travelled to London for the e-learning exhibition and conference, but was slightly underwhelmed by the seminars it attended. TrainingZONE member David West also cast a sceptical eye over the exhibition. We did however find the it useful for an overview of what was new in the world of e-learning, and gained a sneak preview of a new induction package for the soon-to-be launched learndirect, created by the BBC as an induction to learning for new learners and those who haven't been in a formal learning environment for some time.

Depressing news comes this month from the Campaign for Learning's Learning Climate Quiz, which finds that 60 percent of respondents work in a poor learning climate. The findings from the survey, were released this week to coincide with Learning at Work Day. Slightly more encouraging is the research from the Talent Foundation which apparently shows that 'Emotional Intelligence can be learned. TrainingZONE interviews Talent Foundation CEO Dr Javier Bajer to find out more about the work they're been doing on learning to learn.

On 1 July, following a year long process and overwhelming endorsement from the membership, the Institute of Personnel and Development was granted chartered status by the Privy Council. The new status should put the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development alongside the likes of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, but it remains to be seen whether this will be matched by an enhanced public face.

Also this month, TrainingZONE spent an interesting few days dodging muppets, merry-go-rounds and old women wielding tea trays at the NEC for the Training Solutions and IT Training Show, although if we hadn't had a stand there, we wouldn't have had to physically go there to see the show - it was also available on the web.

A study from the Institute for Employment Studies this month finds that the government's plan to encourage those who haven't participated in formal learning for some time back to colleges and courses is going to have an uphill struggle - the study finds that there is a clear divide between those who benefit from education and training, and those who do not.

Also this month:

  • the Employment National Training Organisation launches the Learning Network, a network for NVQ assessors and verifiers to work towards consistency and developing best practice. The network has developed out of a project as part of a UFI/Adapt sponsored programme
  • A high court tussle over the rights to use the term Neuro-Linguistic Programming leaves Richard Bandler, one of the early founders of the process, bankrupt.

Two opposing views on online degrees emerge in August. In the US, the American Federation of Teachers passes a resolution to oppose undergraduate degrees which are earned entirely online, while over the pond, the University of Liverpool launches the first degree to be delivered completely online in the form of an MSc in Information Technology. Time will tell on whose side the majority of Universities, Colleges and students come down on.

September was a quiet month for training news, but we did hear that Scottish academic institutions have been busy spreading their knowledge across the globe, thanks to a company set up to help to exploit the range of expertise and facilities available. TrainingZONE also turned detective after a tip-off from a member that London-based Syndicate Training weren't all that they seemed...

In October, TrainingZONE attends the WOLCE event and stumbles on a problem. How to avoid becoming jaded by attending exhibitions where the same companies appear time and time again? The evening event did however highlight some of the best practice taking place in the world of e-learning at the WOLCE Open Learning Awards.

The highlight of the month was undoubtedly the CIPD conference in Harrogate, but TrainingZONE was left wondering whether Harrogate is up to the job of catering for such a high-profile event of this size any more.

Employers, members of the NTO network, key partner organisations, government ministers and experts meet to discuss the role of employers in driving forward a new National Skills Agenda proposed by the government at the first employer skills summit this month. After the national conference, TrainingZONE also took the opportunity at Harrogate to meet up withEmployment National Training Organisation Chief Executive Tony Green to talk about the revised standards, role of the NTOs, mandatory training for trainers and that 'hot potato', skills shortages.

November was definitely the month that supporters of learning in the workplace came out to state their case. The TUC was busy pushing for an increase in the time made available for training at work, arguing that the UK lags behind other European countries whose workers not only work shorter hours, but also have more paid time off to develop their skills. NACETT were pushing a similar line, with a study apparently showing that the UK is among world leaders in the proportion of its population attending University, but falls well behind in the training and development of those who do not. And CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training argues that informal learning needs a greater emphasis. Meanwhile, the Electronic Training Village's latest survey finds that many trainers are not yet at ease with the technology and delivery methods required for e-learning and need to develop their skills further.

By the end of the year, things are winding down. In December the main bone of contention seems to be the proposals for the audit arrangements for FE colleges to come under the wing of the Further Education Funding Council, as colleges turn for legal advice.

The Institute of Directors urges the government to make more of promoting the use of vocational qualifications, saying that "there is an urgent need to take this action and increase the proportion of vocationally trained people in the UK.

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