In the current uncertain economic climate, it is imperative for every organisation to adopt the most cost-effective solutions to achieve desired training outcomes without endangering workplace efficiency. Classroom based learning exhausts many precious resources, so a shift in training implementation methods has become essential. One organisation embracing the shift is Great Yarmouth Borough Council in Norfolk. We had the privilege of speaking to Geoff Jones, Policy and Information Manager at the Council, who explained the reason for the transition to e-learning, and the positive benefits that have resulted.
The Learning Nexus relationship with Great Yarmouth began in 2004, and has expanded over the years.
“Other than our previous experience with Learning Nexus, the main point of signing up to the all-inclusive Enterprise Package, was the ability to create and add our own training to the local system”.
Hot on the heels of a Council-wide training needs analysis, Great Yarmouth, which employs approximately 500 people, fully embraced e-learning as one solution to provide training in Microsoft applications, legislative areas and soft skills. According to Geoff, the challenge was to make sure that all personnel were trained to an acceptable standard and that they embraced an alternative training method that was cost-effective. He also wanted to ensure that everyone had an equal opportunity to undertake training in topics required for work, as well as in areas of personal interest, at no extra cost, and as often as they wanted within a 12 month licence period. An analysis showed that to provide the necessary equivalent training in a classroom situation would cost the authority at least £250,000,a significant price in itself, let alone compared to an e-learning solution.
A core group of courses was identified from the training needs analysis. Council personnel now use these courses to meet minimum acceptable standards of competency including MS applications, Health & Safety, Equal opportunities, Leadership, Soft skills, Negotiation, Presentations, Questioning, Delegation, Objectives, Time Management and Meetings. In addition, legislation requires that all staff must have a basic understanding of data protection and freedom of information, so the ‘Introduction to DPA’ and the ‘Introduction to FOI’ courses were made mandatory.
Apart from the initial implementation of e-learning across the Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council wanted to make sure that senior managers and the managing directors were seen to be behind the program and visibly supportive of the training objectives. In Great Yarmouth’s case, “The MD publically supported the introduction of e-learning and was one of the first to complete the mandatory training”. Since the launch and implementation of the e-learning partnership with Learning Nexus, not only have 95% of the Council’s staff taken advantage of e-learning in areas identified by the authority, 50% of them have undertaken at least one other non-mandatory course, and their results and usage have been collected, allowing the Council to track and report on training and identify competency issues.
As a Learning Nexus Enterprise customer and collaborative working partner, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has used e-learning to develop a solid training foundation for its current and future training needs. Not only is it able to use Learning Nexus courses that are readily available ‘off the shelf,’ it also has access to tools necessary to develop and share its own courses, which can be more specific to individual needs within the organisation. Using the Learning Nexus Course Builder, the Council can repurpose off-the-shelf courses as well as create its own e-learning resources.