Case study: Centrica training skills powered by TAP
In this case study from the Training Foundation, Richard Malam, Training Manager with Centrica Learning and Development explains his approach to the development and certification of training skills.
Centrica is a provider of energy and other services to millions of people. The company believes that its ability to retain the confidence of customers is directly proportional to the quality and effectiveness of the training and development undertaken by staff.
Some of this is delivered by external agencies but much is delivered by in-house personnel. The maintenance of an effective quality assurance regime for these training services is therefore very important.
Richard Malam is a Training Manager with Centrica Learning and Development. He takes an uncompromising approach to the development and certification of training skills: "We wanted to implement a programme that would give us a framework for the initial development of our trainers, but were also seeking much more.
"Most training qualifications are just a snapshot of expertise, in the same way that a driving licence only proves that person was competent on the road, at a certain time and on a certain date. Traditional training qualifications say the same for the ability of a person to convey a message effectively.
"What we really needed was the ability to assess our trainers regularly against strict criteria to confirm their competence and to provide a vehicle for their continuous improvement. TAP was the only programme that covered all these bases."
Several members of Malam's team had achieved alternative training qualifications before Centrica took the decision to adopt The Training Foundation’s Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP) as a standard. This led him to anticipate some potential resistance: "Several of my team were already qualified trainers. I was worried that asking them to re-qualify might have been taken to imply that they were sub-standard in some way.
"However the individuals concerned were very happy to undertake the condensed three-day Delivery Skills Refresher course offered to experienced trainers. This was partly because the course is so highly regarded externally and also because the outcome was the TAP Certificate in Training Delivery Skills.
"Those who were not already qualified were more than happy to attend because it was good to get an externally recognised course on their CV and because of the positive impact it evidently had on their colleagues."
According to Malam, TAP acted as very positive catalyst for change: "Trainers are always striving to improve and over a period of several months all of them returned from their courses buzzing with new ideas and techniques that were quickly put into action.
"We wholeheartedly embraced the delegate-centric approach to training delivery, involving the learners in the learning experience throughout. This contrasted starkly with the traditional approach of talking at them endlessly with informative yet non participative material, much akin to verbal traffic noise!
"On an individual level TAP has allowed us to better engage with our delegates and enabled us to form a partnership for learning rather than just a trainer/trainee relationship. Moreover because the events are now much more rewarding, the level of personal satisfaction has improved substantially."
Malam states categorically that Centrica has realised some significant organisational and business benefits because training events have been more focussed and more effective. He reports additional benefits including savings on external training resources for major projects because the organisation now has enhanced confidence in the internal team. In general, he says, the business also recognises some of the advantages of keeping business critical knowledge in house once a change programme has finished.
"We measure customer satisfaction immediately and three months post course. It is done online to prevent any trainer influence and covers all aspects of the event; expressed as a percentage rating. A target is set each year that individual trainers and the entire department endeavour to achieve.
"Following the adoption of TAP the target was increased to 70% and has further increased year on year to its current level of 85%. Each year the target has been exceeded and in 2005 the rating average for the year to date based on 75% returns is 91%."
On the basis of these results Centrica remains committed to the Trainer Assessment Programme for the foreseeable future. Richard Malam concluded: "TAP is an industry wide benchmark of excellence in training because it provides a vehicle for continuous assessment and development which ensures that the holder can "deliver the goods"
"Every trainer within the team is TAP qualified. This year we are entering the second phase of revalidation with some people to make sure this regime continues. We are also enrolling personnel on courses leading to the TAP Diploma in Learning Facilitation Skills to widen horizons and embrace current thinking and techniques."
For further information about the TAP programme, including competency frameworks, training programmes and FAQs visit the Training Foundation website.
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