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TrainingZONE news review of 2002


The scandal surrounding Individual Learning Accounts and the birth of the Learning and Skills Council were the two key events of 2001, but what kept the TrainingZONE news pages alive in 2002? Read on for our review of the key events of the year.


As the year began, the scandal surrounding the closure of the Individual Learning Accounts scheme continued as MPs announced the launch of an official enquiry into ILAs, as it's revealed the scheme went £63 million over budget.

Acquiring the skills to train in the 21st Century could be more difficult than trainers think, according to the results of a survey into training of trainers and teachers in e-learning, which concludes that good products to train trainers in e-learning are rare.

Elsewhere, the initiatives and rebrandings that breeze periodically through the vocational education sector may not be serving their intended purposes because of a failure to "address the realities of employer-employee relations and changes in working life", according to researchers at London University.

Just as an inquiry is launched into the handling of ILAs, another government scheme runs into trouble, with access to the "computers within reach" programme designed to provide recycled computers for unemployed withdrawn early - perhaps an early omen of the problems experienced by the IT training market during 2002.

Also in January: We looked at an Action Learning approach to accrediting your training, we introduced members to a brand-new development programme, EvaluationZone, and featured a special interview with the Association of Computer Trainers.


In February, there's good news for the e-learning market with the publication of research conducted by Enterprise Ireland which reveals that UK investment in e-learning will continue to increase in 2002/3, as 83 percent of companies look to increase or maintain training budgets.

Other research apparently reveals managers have their heads in the sand when it comes to their staff's skills and performance. According to the results, one in five companies (18%) have no idea how many people work for them, half don't know what skills their workers have, and three in five (59%) don't know how hard their staff are working.

As scheme administrators Capita are asked to give evidence to the education select committee inquiry into the Individual Learning account Scheme, it's alleged that the government removed some of the original safeguards after the system had been designed, in order to reduce bureaucracy and persuade new training providers into the market. Checks on training providers were among the elements dropped from the scheme.

And TrainingZONE scores one of its most popular hits of the year when we interview internationally-known e-learning expert Elliott Masie on the future of learning.

Also in February: Margaret Salmon is appointed as the first chair of the new Sector Skills Development Agency, consultation begins on plans for a new college to provide training and development to leaders and managers in the learning and skills sector, and new skills-based GCSEs are planned to reinvent vocational training.


In March, it's revealed UK organisations are getting to grips with coaching, but struggle to evaluate its effects, according to a survey conducted for the School of Coaching at The Industrial Society. Continuing the theme, one of TrainingZONE's popular PPV authors examined what makes for a good mentor.

The level of commitment to training by organisations in the UK is questioned when it's revealed there is a significant gap between the 'training haves' and the 'training have-nots', according to a survey released by the CIPD. The survey finds people working in smaller businesses are less likely to receive training than people in large companies or in the public sector, and so are part-time employees and people with fewer educational qualifications. Another study finds that Best Practice organisations in the UK spend well above the average on training and development, while across the UK, spending on T & D dropped to 1.5% of salary last year, from £474 per person to £305 per person, less than half the average spend in many other countries in Europe.

Elsewhere, as it's revealed pilot schemes to replace ILAs are expected in the budget, the Association of Computer Trainers finds there has been a significant drop in the numbers of private individuals beginning IT training courses following the Government’s withdrawal of ILAs.

Also in March: TrainingZONE reveals its brand new search engine, which now allows members to search the millions of pages which make up the whole site in one go, while ILA training providers appeal for explanation and compensation from the government.


E-learning continues its rise in popularity in the workplace, but attitudes towards using it are becoming more measured, according to TrainingZONE's own Training Trends 2002 study. Later in the month, Karina Ward of NETg examines whether Blended learning is a learning revolution or just an over-hyped buzzword.

There's more funding in the pipeline for work-based learning, as it's revealed the new Sector Skills Council network will receive nearly £30 million in the next financial year (2003-04) – three times the amount invested in the National Training Organisations in their final year.

As we profile the annual HRD 2002 exhibition and conference, the CIPD publishes the results of its own survey into e-learning, which finds that, although much-publicised, this method of training delivery is only being used in less than a third of organisations for staff training and development.

Also in April: Principals, lecturers and staff from across England converge on Westminster to lobby for appropriate funding for colleges and their four million students, there's backing for learning at work from the Union Learning Fund and the Industrial Society becomes the Work Foundation, plus there's a new learning and skills body for Wales.


May begins with the earth-shattering news from the Federation of Small Businesses that training improves performance! Apparently their research shows there is a direct relationship between training and business performance - it's always good to hear!

In our featured interview of the month, Gary Townsend, Interim Communication Director, Sector Skills Development Agency, talks to TrainingZONE about the new Sectors Skills Councils, the Agency's role, and the new opportunities business has to take a role in ensuring that skills training policy meets real needs.

While a study reveals poor quality of management and leadership are holding back UK productivity, our coaching and mentoring monthly feature written by Dr Richard Hale looks at how people at the top learn.

Also in May: It's Adult Learners Week, there's to be no compensation for trainers for the ILA fiasco, despite a windfall for Capita directors and the World Cup needs an HR policy to deal with the expected rise in 'sickies'.


TrainingZONE examines what it really means to add value in training with a series of seminars and workshops at the Training Solutions show., including an expert panel debate on the subject.

There's a government reshuffle in the Department for Education and Skills, as then-minister Estelle Morris announces the new Ministerial team.

According to government statistics, the number of young people in work based learning are at their highest for ten years.

Making management development programmes 'stretching and stimulating' to all types of managers and finding more practical approaches to evaluating such programmes are the key priorities for those involved in delivering and organising such programmes, according to a new report.

Also in June: Our reviewing team goes topical when it examines Leadership the Sven-Goran Eriksson way, HE and FE unions reject the latest pay offer.

In July, Professor Steve Molyneux, Director of LearningLab and a member of the Post-16 e-Learning Strategy Taskforce, makes the learning case for the necessity for advancing broadband coverage.

A task force criticises the complexity of local skills policy and higher education funding in the UK, while it's announced more FE colleges are to join the Centre of Vocational Excellence, or CoVE programme at the end of 2002.

Also in July: 'E-learning - A trainer's experience' makes for a popular read on the site, the government responds to criticisms over its handling of the ILA scheme.


By August, there's officially no longer a national shortage of IT skills, as the Professional Contractors Group convinces the Government to remove IT skills from the skills shortage list, thus ending the fast track visa scheme which permits companies to bring in overseas workers who possess skills which are deemed to be in short supply.

In a new feature, TrainingZONE asks Training Managers to describe their personal experiences of what the role of Training Manager or Training Officer involves. Vivienne Morris of Rail Gourmet is the first to contribute her experiences.

As the government's Post 16 E-learning strategy taskforce recommends free online access to ICT training, Karina Ward looks at the importance of equal access to learning technology in a feature for TrainingZONE.

Also in August: Two-thirds of UK companies aren't using online learning, according to a study, Robin Henry examines what Blended Solutions mean in practice, the CBI calls for young people to be better prepared for work.


Estelle Morris, Secretary of State for Education and Skills announces a nationwide drive to give employers a greater say in the education and training of young people and adults.

The latest report from the Financial Times into the performance of business schools around the world questions whether British and Irish business schools are failing to measure up.

It's been a busy year for e-learning company SmartForce, as the latest announcement confirms their merger with fellow provider SkillSoft as of 6 September, after SmartForce called off the acquisition of e-learning technology providers Centra earlier in the year.

Also in September: We previewed the WOLCE exhibition and conference, the University of Liverpool announces the 1,000th registration for its online post-graduate MBA and MSc programmes, two years after its launch, UK management is 'plagued by mediocrity and short-termism', according to the TUC.


October seemed to be the month for negative views on management and performance in the UK, with a number of studies focussing on these areas.

The Department of Trade and Industry commissions US management expert and Harvard University Professor Michael Porter to lead a major study into the effect of poor management on UK's productivity performance, and a new study by Proudfoot Consulting shows the UK falling behind competitor economies through disorganisation, low ambition and underperformance.

However, there was some good news, as small firms are investing much more in training their employees than larger companies according to the results of a new survey, carried out by Capita Learning & Development, into training trends amongst UK businesses.

Also in October: On a more light-hearted level, we asked you to name your top film influences in training - Mo Mowlem gets the prize for the most obscure nomination! New research by Flexecutive asked, 'who's afraid of flexible working?', and the TrainingZONE team joined hundreds of HRD professionals who travelled to Harrogate for the annual CIPD Conference and Exhibition.


As arguably the training term of the year, we asked you for your views on Blended Learning. While 55% said it was essential for making the most of e-learning, 15% saw it as just another method of delivering training, while 14% saw it as this year's buzzword, and a perhaps cynical 7% said it was just a way to cover up the inadequacies of e-learning.

Amid much talk of skills deficits and shortages, there's some good news - according to research by the DTI and Home Office, high calibre professionals from the financial, IT, health and biotechnology sectors are choosing to work in the UK because they see it as a centre of excellence.

Although somewhat lacking in visibility in its first year, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) publishes its workforce development strategy, the plan for implementing the Government’s drive to improve skills in business and raise productivity.

Also in November: Training budgets are being eaten up by travel expenses, according to Parity Group research, the first ever national Modern Apprenticeship (MA) Summit takes place, we looked at what the Pre-Budget Report meant for skills training and consider, can you afford your management team?


December is a quiet month, but there's still time to celebrate a wide range of successful training and development from Europe’s most productive car plant to a family run bakery that invented the Bakewell Tart with the National Training Awards.

There was yet more funding for post-16 skills on the way, with new Education and Skills Secretary Charles Clarke confirming that as from April next year the LSC will receive a major increase in its budget giving it in excess of £8.0 billion in 2003-04, rising to £9.2 billion in 2005-06. He emphasised that this record investment had to bring about radical and sustained improvements, and significantly drive up the country’s overall skill levels.

The CBI urged the government to build on "tried and tested" measures for raising low skills, in particular for the seven million adults who lack literacy and numeracy. It wants ministers to drop the idea of legislation giving workers statutory time off for training, arguing this could damage firms without delivering results.

TrainingZONE looked back on a year of ups and downs in e-learning.

Also in December: TrainingZONE published the second of its Biannual Reviews into the state of the training market, and published a sneak preview of our planned featured topics for 2003.

We hope you've enjoyed making use of TrainingZONE in your working life this year, stay tuned for more exclusive news, views and information in 2003!


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