The TAP Qualified Professional Newsletter
|July 7th 2008||Volume 1, Number 2|
In This Issue
Dates for your diary
Every year The Training Foundation takes part in a wide range of Learning and Development related events. TAP Qualified Professional LinkedIn members will receive advance notice and special registration privileges. Jot these dates in your diary!
16th July 2008, The Training Foundation, Coventry
CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2008,
16th to 18th September 2008, Harrogate, Yorkshire
World of Learning Conference and Exhibition 2008,
19th to 20th November 2008, NEC, Birmingham
Learning Technologies 2009 Conference and Exhibition,
28th to 29th January 2009, Olympia 2, London
5th Getenergy Global Energy Exploration & Production Annual Event,
23rd to 25th March 2009, London
CIPD HRD Conference and Exhibition,
21st to 23rd April 2009, ExCeL, Docklands, London
A welcome from Claire Brookes
As the Editor of Talking TAP I’m pleased to welcome you to our second issue. I’m also glad to report that the TAP Qualified Professional Group is still growing rapidly. Don’t forget that every person who joins the Group increases your personal network of professional contacts. With this in mind I am pleased to announce our Recommend a Friend scheme, which is described in detail below.
This month also sees the launch of the new TAP Qualified Freelance sub-group, which is already proving very popular.
Our TAP Partner of the Month is West Sussex County Council.
This month we also launch our new Question of the Month feature, which profiles a question from a group member and gives you the opportunity to respond via the Linked In Q&A facility. Group Member Bob Parry asks a question of real relevance to us all: Is learning and development sliding into recession? Make sure you find out what others think and have your say!
Finally in our Article of the Month Adrian Snook looks at the perils and pitfalls of outsourcing learning. Are corporate procurement professionals making a good job of buying-in learning and development services? Find out below.
Until next month,
'Recommend a Friend' Scheme
July sees the launch of the new Recommend a Friend scheme. If you know another TAP Qualified Professional who would benefit from membership of the Group then all you need to do is forward this newsletter to them via email.
Please copy us in via email@example.com when you forward the newsletter so we can register your contact for Group membership. Once your friend clicks the invitation link below they will be granted automatic Group membership on the basis of your recommendation.
And that's not all! The person who introduces the largest number of new TAP Qualified Professional Group members during the month of July will also win a free pass to attend the 3-day CIPD Annual Conference, which takes place in Harrogate, Yorkshire from 16th to 18th September 2008. This pass is worth £1,400. For the Conference Programme please click here
BILD Connect Event, Coventry
The Training Foundation is delighted to host a British Institute for Learning & Development (BILD) members Connect Event at Technology House on Wednesday 16th July 2008. The theme of this event is Learning in the Workplace.
This promises to be a action packed day including presentations from TAP Partners: Steve Sinclair-Day of Autoglass, Pam Brown of Wolseley UK and Tony Weatherhead of NFU Mutual. There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet new contacts at our networking lunch.
Click here to see the full agenda. We hope to see you there!
TAP Qualified Freelance Group Launched
The hawk-eyed amongst you will have noticed that a sprinkling of TAP Qualified Freelance icons have cropped up amongst Group profiles over the last few days.
The rapid growth of the TAP Qualified Professional group has led a number of TAP qualified freelancers to request a new grouping specifically for them.
On July 1st TAP Qualified Freelance was launched. This sub-group is specifically for TAP Qualified Professionals who specialise in independent, freelance or contract work and who are actively seeking to offer their services to TAP Partner organisations and to the 20 million business people represented in the wider LinkedIn community. So the next time you need to find a TAP qualified freelancer or contractor at short notice the people you need will be at your fingertips! Just look for the emblem above.
Since TAP Qualified Freelance is a sub-group, members remain part of the wider TAP Qualified Professional group, receiving the same benefits and monthly newsletter via email.
If you are not currently a member of the the TAP Qualified Freelance sub-group and would like to become one, simply click the invitation link below:
World of Learning 2008
World of Learning, the UK's key conference and exhibition for business learning, is set to attract thousands of learning and development professionals to the NEC, Birmingham, on 19th & 20th November 2008.
In association with the British Institute for Learning & Development (the BILD), the World of Learning is now in its sixteenth year and is an essential event for learning and development professionals, as well as those responsible for personnel and HR within their companies.
World of Learning 2008 will include:
Why not come and meet The Training Foundation team at stand E10?
TAP Qualified Professional of the Month:
Gerard Hancock (pictured in the centre) achieved the TAP Certificate in Training Design and Development Skills in 2006 when he was a Training Designer within the British Transport Police (BTP) Learning and Development Quality Assurance Team.
The PALP is a development programme that was initially created by one of NPIA precursor organisations and is still being delivered to encourage the retention and progression of members of under represented groups in the Police service.
If you would like to find out more about Gerard or add him as a Linked In connection, please visit his profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/6/ba9/2b
Would you be interested in becoming the TAP Qualified Professional of the Month for August? If so, simply send a recent photo in JPEG format and a brief description of your role to Claire Brookes.
TAP Partner of the Month:
There are now over 120 TAP Partner organisations throughout the UK, committed to the employment of TAP Qualified Professionals in order to guarantee the quality of learning and development services. For the full list see:
West Sussex County Council
Servicing the diverse training needs of West Sussex County Council’s 24,000 members of staff across five sites is quite a challenge, particularly when funding and resources are limited. There is an assumption that externally sourced training must be superior to internal provision. With the help of TAP®, this is a perception Learning Solutions Manager Julie Ferroni is determined to overturn.
A demonstrable return on training investment is a top priority for the Learning Solutions team. With a surge in demand for existing and new courses, lack of time and resources and a new budgetary system for training to contend with, Julie decided action was required to embed quality into the training process: she put her entire staff through The Training Foundation’s TAP® Delivery Skills Refresher course.
"I was already a TAP® convert having gone through the programme when I was training manager at the local Health Trust," she says. "I particularly like the fact that you can benchmark your skills against a proven methodology that really means something out in the marketplace. Unlike other courses, you don’t just get the qualification for turning up, you really have to work hard to get it."
To download the full case study
Question of the Month: Is learning and development sliding into recession?
Group Member Bob Parry asks a question of real relevance to us all: Is learning and development sliding into recession? Make sure you find out what others think and have your say!
To review other responses and to post your own thoughts, simply click the link below and then the Yellow button marked 'View Full Profile':
You will find Bob's question waiting to be answered, so simply follow the prompts.
If you have a burning question to ask the whole Linked In Community, simply contact Claire Brookes before the end of July. Your question could be profiled in the August issue!
Article of the Month: The perils and pitfalls of outsourcing learning, by Adrian Snook
Many major organisations highlight the huge scale of their investments in learning. However all too often the efforts of procurement professionals are focused on buying competitively priced training resources or trainer time. Relatively little effort is actually focused on ensuring that this investment will actually deliver learning.
An ever-increasing number of organisations now outsource a significant volume of training to external providers. A survey carried out by Capita Learning and Development in October of 2005 estimated that two in every five organisations have now taken up the outsourcing option. In the case of many major organisations the annual budget for the procurement of learning from external providers now runs to many millions of pounds.
As the total amount spent on outsourced learning and development has gradually increased this has drawn the attention of finance directors and in turn procurement functions. Over the last 10 years increasing numbers of procurement professionals have deployed the full force of their skills and expertise in search of better value. However, the definitions of value traditionally employed by purchasing specialists do not adequately address the challenges of procuring outsourced learning services.
There is a widespread assumption that procurement techniques which deliver good results for purchasing intangibles like legal services; consultancy or software development must surely deliver similar dependable results when procuring learning and development services. However is this assumption one that is safe to make?
Established procurement practice demands that variations in the products or services offered by vendors are identified at an early stage so that ‘apples can be compared with apples’. The request for information system is not necessarily designed to be adversarial but usually involves extensive use of closed questions requiring answers that can be pre-assigned weightings and scores. The objective is to establish a scale of relative value so that one provider can be compared fairly with another. This has led to a very clear focus on those elements of learning and development services that are straightforward to quantify, audit, compare and contrast.
Initial questions raised by procurement teams tend to focus on the vendor’s quality assurance processes. The goal here is to audit a paper trail of facts on the basis of which decisions about relative merit can be made. Providing the documented quality processes match expectations and the provider can provide suitably impressive references then the focus shifts rapidly to hard economics. In most cases learning and development providers that clear these basic quality assurance hurdles are then either short-listed or rejected on the basis of their stated trainer day rates, expenses policy or any other quantitative metrics that can be applied to their training product or service. In the case of e-Learning the focus of attention usually falls on quoted development rates per finished hour of e-learning courseware.
There is usually the opportunity for a ‘beauty parade’ of short-listed providers. Further high-pressure haggling over final discounts then takes place before the final deals are done and the contracts are awarded.
So how successful has this standard procurement approach been?
Procurement professionals have undoubtedly used their buying power to apply a real competitive squeeze to the profit margins of training providers. Over the last five years a number of major providers have gone into liquidation or have been consolidated into larger organisations in an effort to reduce costs. The IT training sector has proved particularly vulnerable because vendors usually offer standardised courses on topics like Microsoft Office Fundamentals. This makes fee comparisons between the day rates charged by vendors especially straightforward.
The pressure to discount quoted day rates has led training providers to cut costs, to down-size their wholly employed training teams and to rely increasingly on the services of freelancers and short term contractors. In an effort to maintain their profitability training providers have in turn applied pressure on the fees charged by the freelancer/contractor community, where necessary making a policy of engaging those that charge the lowest day rates and still have the necessary subject matter knowledge. All too often this means using facilitators who either have limited experience, no training qualifications or both.
This downward pressure on freelancer day rates has intensified as a result of the large number of corporate trainers taking voluntary or forced redundancy. Many of these individuals with limited professional experience are now seeking employment in the freelancer market and are charging what may well be unsustainable day rates. A survey conducted by a UK freelancer network in October 2006 stated "I earn less per day than when I first started my business 17 years ago."
In the case of e-Learning, downward pressure on development rates has forced an increasing number of UK providers to outsource development work to the developing world, where social costs and wages are significantly lower. As a result the number of people employed in e-Learning services within the UK has certainly not increased at the rate that many predicted just a few years ago.
If these concerns are set aside, there is a school of thought that regards the procurement processes implemented by major organisations as an unqualified success. After all –costs have undoubtedly come down and savings have been made. However – there are some significant underlying problems. Despite all the procurement effort that has gone into contracts for learning and development services the quality of learner experience does remain extremely variable.
Research shows that a course leader’s training skills are the greatest contributor to the learner’s achievement of learning objectives. Learners working with a skilled learning facilitator achieve their learning objectives more quickly and retain what they have learned more effectively when they return to the workplace. Regardless of the knowledge displayed by the course leader, the nature of the facilities or the quality of the course materials, the achievement of learning outcomes depends very largely on the learning and development skills of the facilitator.
On the basis of research carried out by The Training Foundation most of the quality problems that major organisations encounter with their contracted training providers are either directly or indirectly attributable to poor performance by the course leader.
Unfortunately, the commercial pressures that procurement professionals have placed on learning and development providers have actually resulted in a gradual slackening of ties between vendors and the personnel that resource their courses. The leading learning and development providers in the UK as measured in terms of revenue now employ no more than a handful of course leaders, relying instead on an army of self-employed freelance personnel.
Given the sheer scale of the outsourced contracts being placed these days, all training providers are forced to take risks with freelance personnel from time to time. This resource-planning problem is exacerbated because providers all tend to fish in same freelancer pools and conflicting commitments inevitably arise. Client organisations are also increasingly aware that the personnel utilised by training providers do deliver extremely variable standards of learner experience. This means that major clients actively resist any attempt by the provider to substitute course leaders, thereby ensuring that they keep the best learning facilitator. By contrast other clients get what is left!
In this freelance labour market the development and certification of training skills is funded at the discretion of the individual freelancer. Since neither procurement functions nor learning and development providers have previously stated a policy of utilising qualified facilitators in preference for unqualified facilitators there is really no incentive for freelancers to incur the cost and lost–opportunity penalties associated with developing and certificating their training skills. As a result The Training Foundation estimates that less than 20% of course leaders utilised by major learning and development providers in the UK hold the equivalent of an A-Level pass in learning and development or above. The results achieved by these unqualified trainers often reflect very poor value for money.
It is true to say that procurement professionals have failed to recognise the criticality of training skills to the return on investment for their training spend. In order to address this problem a new item needs to be added to the standard list of closed questions set out during the procurement process. This item is: "Please confirm that all personnel put forward to train our employees holds one of the following TAP training skills qualifications…"
Do you have any suggestions, comments or views on any subject raised in this month issue? If so, please feel free to email Claire Brookes at firstname.lastname@example.org and these may be featured in future issues of Talking TAP.
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