Increasingly, training specialists are advocating courses that are partly taught and include work-based elements. Judy Saxton, manager of Learndirect’s Learning through Work scheme, advocates this method: ‘It means less time away from work and the training that is done is based on existing work projects, so it has a direct benefit to the business.’
Courses are run throughout the year and are not tied to college term times. ‘Costs are comparable to traditional part-time university courses,’ says Saxton. ‘But the benefit comes from the fact that development is ongoing as work continues – indeed one should complement the other.’
For companies that can’t absorb the costs of employing a dedicated training department, money saving is a major draw. John Docherty, human resources director at 2 Sisters Food Group, decided to outsource training for managers at the company following a review of performance: ‘We assessed management throughout the company and found through the review process that there were a number areas of competency that needed to be improved. We’re not big enough to warrant an in-house training department, so we looked to an external provider.
‘We needed a provider with a range of skills to fit the various specialist management training needs that we had, so we developed a programme of workshops that runs throughout the year.’
Gabrielle Gardner, head of managed learning at training services company Epic, explains that there are various reasons to take the outsourcing route: ‘Firms that use a training provider are looking to reduce overheads and this can manifest itself in a number of different ways. In general, I think it’s fair to say that outsourced or managed training also allows middle managers to focus more on the strategic aspects of the business rather than its day-to-day running and staff development or admin.’
For Docherty, the outcome has been a ‘positive change in the company’. He says: ‘Staff are happier to stay now as they feel there is room for development – and if we compare last year’s management review with this year, there has been a marked improvement. With this type of investment it takes some time to get a return, but we’re starting to see more managers than ever wanting to attend the courses. We’ve even been able to begin our first graduate recruitment drive, simply because we now have a suite of management development workshops to offer them.’