We're All Learning about New Ways to Train Employees; Mary Cunningham, Training Director at about IT, Discusses Training within SMEs, and Makes the Point That Businesses Must Communicate to the Training Industry What They Want, and Not the Other Way Round
THE Government's latest tax changes for training bring some of the best news the training sector has had in recent times. A welcome initiative after the debacle of the collapse of the Independent Learning Accounts (ILAs) due to their dubious uses to purchase 'unsuitable training.'
As the Training Director of About IT since its beginning in 1997, I've been watching the take-up of new approaches to learning, in particular e-learning and how it is being sold to the marketplace.
Initially it did no more than follow the Computer Based Training (CBT) approach and suffered from the illusion that a piece of training courseware, accessible anywhere, would be enough to revolutionise training and see the tutor-led approach recede into the equivalent of 'Victoriana' - something we used to do which brought us to today!
This approach is still being used today by some of the more unscrupulous in our industry, albeit not as evangelically.
Nearly every learner I've ever met needs to be motivated, encouraged, enabled to ask questions to try out their learning and talk to others facing similar uncertainties to learn from them. If a training programme isn't designed with these components as well as structured course material and good design, learners get frustrated find better ways to make use of their time!
At our core we know how important it is to know your subject as well as knowing the process the person has to go through in order to learn something new - in essence to enable them to change their behaviour.
About IT was started with an even blend of educational, entrepreneurial and ICT expertise. We have predominantly provided business-to-business training solutions and related services. In all our training programmes we've always had to help a company change its behaviour by affecting the behaviour of key individuals within it.
The need to respond directly to the needs of a company to improve processes and procedures has always been at the core of our work - training is at the end of a longer process of fact-finding, analysis of existing systems, capability studies and suggestion of solutions on how these systems could be improved and where the training was best directed. Often we ended up persuading a company to buy another PC (which we didn't sell) and allocate their training more efficiently in order to ensure the best outcomes for them. Our approach is still the same now.
Because of our area of expertise in ICT, people would ask us for help in any area and expect that we would give them sound solid advice. To the customer it is hard to see all the separate disciplines - ICT installation, ICT usage, ICT kit, ICT training - as separate services when all depend on each other. …