Case Study: TAP helps council improve learning facilitation skills
Leeds City Council’s IT Training Manager, Pat McConnell, explains how long term investments in improved learning facilitation skills have helped to fulfil two of the core values of Leeds City Council by valuing colleagues and putting customers first.
Leeds City Council is the second largest Metropolitan District Council in the UK, employing approximately 32,000 people, about 10,000 of which are computer users.
The Council’s Learning and Development Unit (LDU) forms part of Corporate Services and provides a training and consultancy service to all council training departments. This service includes all forms of development, including staff and management training.
LDU operates as a trading account. Therefore the quality of training is vital to its success and needs to set a benchmark for the internal departments. There are only 3 permanent employees, (one full time and two part-time) in the IT section of LDU and the courses are delivered by a team of 18 associate trainers who have an annually renewable contract.
All these trainers and associate trainers have achieved the Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP) Certificate in Training Delivery skills, thereby enabling LDU to fulfil the criteria for the Gold Standard Accreditation as an Internal Training Department from the Institute of IT Training in 2003.
The volume of IT training undertaken increased substantially with Investors in People accreditation (2001) and the subsequent introduction of personal development plans for all employees. There has been continued growth in the number and range of courses delivered. During 2004 approximately 500 courses were delivered.
Leeds City Council’s IT Training Manager, Pat McConnell, said: "It is important that we retain our team of associate trainers, many of whom have worked for Leeds City Council for several years. The Trainer Assessment Programme provided an opportunity to offer continuous professional development for the trainers and to establish a consistent delivery style amongst experienced trainers that previously held a variety of qualifications.
"Everyone was enthusiastic about the opportunity to complete the TAP programme and the additional opportunities that would result from this qualification.
"Several of our associate trainers, who did not necessarily know each other well, were trained on the same Delivery Skills Refresher course. The opportunity to work together over 3 days has definitely improved communication and networking between the trainers. The TAP Certificate in Training Delivery Skills has subsequently provided additional opportunities for them to win work as freelance trainers."
Learning and Development Advisor Clare Townend is in no doubt about the benefits that TAP has generated: "There has been a noticeable improvement in the development of course materials since the adoption of the Trainer Assessment Programme and there is now a consistent approach to both the materials and the delivery.
"The TAP programme has enhanced the reputation and credibility of LDU resulting in additional business, especially in relation to the development and delivery of bespoke IT courses. In the past it is more likely that this would have been done by departmental training teams.
"Over the past 2-3 years there has been continual growth in the number of courses run and in the last 12 months we have increased our team of associate trainers from 12 to 18 to meet the demand.
"As the internal TAP assessor it is interesting and rewarding to see the development of the trainers. Assessing trainers in the early stages after their TAP programme, the delivery is sometimes quite unnatural. However, over a period of time the questioning techniques in particular become more skilful and the learning experience much more innovative and professional.
"I strongly advocate interim assessments of trainers who have achieved the qualification to ensure that they continue to apply the methodology and become more confident in using the technique."
"In addition to supporting our associate trainers, we will continue to encourage the individual departmental training functions within Leeds City Council to invest in the TAP programme to ensure a consistent standard of training throughout the organisation. Social Services have already made this investment and LDU are able to offer support and assessment to their trainers, which will establish a closer relationship between LDU and the Social Services training team."
Leeds City Council are prepared to provide a venue for the delivery of TAP courses for its own employees and for places to be made available to other local organisations in the area.
For further information about the TAP programme, including competency frameworks, training programmes and FAQs visit the Training Foundation website.
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