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Notes and news
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 46, Issue 7
Soldiers shift gear to train for civilian life
The US Army, General Motors and Raytheon Company are teaming up to provide soldiers with the skills to become service technicians at GM dealerships when they return to civilian life.
The Shifting Gears automotive technician training program, a multi-year partnership between the two companies and the Army, began in August at Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas. Shifting Gears is part of the Army's Soldier for Life support program, which helps soldiers to reintegrate into their communities after leaving the Army.
The Shifting Gears program consists of a 12-week customized, on-base technician-training curriculum that includes classroom, online and hands-on technical training. On successful course completion and program graduation, veterans receive career counseling, job placement recommendations and employment assistance from Army Soldier for Life centers, and access to available GM-technician employment opportunities through GM's authorized dealer network.
“Soldiers transitioning to civilian life bring exceptional training, values and experience to American communities and their civilian workforce,” said US Army Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff for personnel. “Properly supporting our veterans requires a team approach from the Army, other government agencies and the local community.”
GM's dealer network needs around 2,500 new technicians annually and qualified technicians are often in short supply. In addition to Shifting Gears, GM provides eligible veterans with free access to web-based training through GM's service technical college.
“Shifting Gears illustrates GM's commitment to serving those who serve America,” said Steve Hill, GM vice-president, US sales and service. “GM has supported the US military for 100 years. From providing purpose-built vehicles in conflict situations to today's support for veterans and returning military personnel, we continue to be their strong allies.”
The training is conducted by Raytheon Professional Services (RPS), which is one of the world's largest training companies. RPS currently develops and delivers training for GM technicians worldwide and was integral in establishing the GM service technical college, an in-house resource that provides comprehensive training to GM personnel.
“Young Army veterans face unemployment rates that are more than double the national average. Raytheon sees the partnership with GM and the Army as an opportunity to reduce those statistics by helping to position former service members for new opportunities,” concluded Lynn Dugle, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services.
Town trains brokers in latest marketing tools
Manhattan real-estate firm Town Residential is training its 600 agents and brokers in the latest marketing and productivity tools for their sector.
The training includes access to a training library of videos on more than 130 internet tools, cloud services and professional topics, as well as use of a cloud platform to deploy customized, digital marketing-focussed courses.
The real-estate industry largely relies on databases, online listings and printed fliers to market its properties and expertise, which only go so far. Town Residential recognized the need to equip its brokers with simple, actionable training on new marketing tools.
“Education is an essential piece of any broker's marketing and personal business,” said the company's director of digital marketing, Danielle Garofalo. “By implementing the latest training among its agents, Town Residential sets them apart and provides an avenue in which they can become well-versed in even more sectors of the marketplace.”
The cloud-based training platform makes training convenient and easy for on-the-go workforces, allowing Town Residential agents the flexibility to learn new technology tools and digital skills anytime, anywhere and across platforms on mobile, tablets or their desktop.
“As industries like real estate move increasingly online and on-demand, new technologies become essential at a rapid pace – but the shift also leads to a skills and knowledge gap that affects results, as employees can quickly fall behind in understanding and using the best tools for the job,” said Jeff Fernandez, co-founder and chief executive of Grovo, Town Residential partner in the initiative. “We strive to provide companies such as Town Residential with a solution to close that gap, so their employees can reduce training time and focus on fostering client relationships and selling properties. That Town Residential recognizes this issue and is evolving its business to close the gap illustrates the importance of getting our workforces across industries up to speed.”
Town Residential will use Grovo's cloud-based platform to deploy relevant Grovo-produced training, as well as serve up its own training content. Customized courses will focus on digital marketing, professional productivity skills, and Town Residential corporate best practices.
“Town Residential has been committed to technology and training on all levels since inception,” said its Managing Director of Technology, Chris Reyes. “Partnering Grovo to provide unfettered access to such a valuable resource is a strategic choice that will empower each representative and employee in Town Residential with the knowledge needed to excel in the fast-pace digital world.”
Grovo produces and deploys 60-second videos in real-time as technologies update. Businesses can then implement the training immediately on its cloud-based platform, which offers the possibility to measure, track and manage employee performance.
Pandora locates a learning jewel
Copenhagen-based Global jewellery firm Pandora is using e-learning to ensure that its sales teams in some 80 countries sell the right products to the right people.
Per Ferdinandsen, the company's e-learning manager, explained: “E-learning materials are valuable because they are available to everyone and present a coherent message. Allied to other aspects of blended learning, e-learning is an effective method of providing our global sales-force with guidance on how to sell in-store most effectively. It is also an effective method of distributing up-to-date product knowledge to our employees.”
Pandora's original e-learning platform was inefficient and time-consuming when it came to dealing with translating content into different languages.
Per Ferdinandsen explained: “We surveyed the market and identified a shortlist of eight learning-content management system (LCMS) vendors. Many could provide one or more of the things we were looking for but only the eXact learning LCMS could meet each of our criteria. It provides language support, HTML5 support and the ability for us to create and use templates. It is an open and flexible framework enabling us to control production work-flows. It also provides a software-development kit so that we can develop content templates ourselves. The platform is scalable and is sited in the cloud so it can operate at a fast, or at least normal, speed around the world.”
When it comes to translating learning materials into different languages, the LCMS supports content localization work flows addressing different languages and any accompanying cultural sensitivities. All content produced using the LCMS authoring environment is automatically produced to an XLIFF format, which is the best-known XML-based international standard where translating files is concerned. The XLIFF file is sent for translation and the resulting XLIFF file is uploaded to the LCMS – producing identical content in two or more languages.
Per Ferdinandsen believes that the LCMS is playing an important part in helping Pandora's sales force around the globe to meet its targets.
Pandora designs, makes and markets hand-finished and modern jewellery, which is sold through some 10,000 points of sale. The company employs more than 9,000 people worldwide. Some 6,800 are located in Gemopolis, Thailand, where the company manufactures its jewellery.
Port is a haven for well-trained employees
The London Port of Tilbury has won the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education Learning for Work national-project award for its investment in the lifelong learning of its trainees and employees.
The port of won the award for the Thurrock Skills Project, which was developed in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University's skill-development organization Ixion, Thurrock Council and the Grays Thurrock Jobcentre.
Candidates work towards a certificate in warehousing, English, mathematics and employability skills. After completing their training, they are guaranteed an interview with the Port of Tilbury's main employment agency, which supplies a large percentage of the port's workforce.
The program gives opportunities to local people from a wide range of backgrounds who may otherwise have struggled to find employment. More than 100 participants have already passed through the project, with over 70 percent receiving offers of employment at the port or in its supply chain.
Perry Glading, chief operating officer at the Port of Tilbury, said: “The success of the Thurrock Skills Project has provided the port with an outstanding complement of well-trained staff and, in turn, has given other participants the opportunity to acquire experience that will improve their overall employability at a time when it is important to demonstrate a wide range of skills to the job market.”
Wates builds the construction industry workforce of tomorrow
The job prospects of more than 500 people have been boosted over the last eight years thanks to a two-week construction-training course run by Wates Group.
Building Futures is one of the key community programs that Wates delivers under its Reshaping Tomorrow sustainability framework in partnership with Ixion Holdings Ltd, the not-for-profit organization from Anglia Ruskin University.
Building Futures is a two-week vocational-training program for the adult unemployed, which leads to an accredited Level 1 award in building crafts.
The program is run for groups of 12-15 people. It aims to: showcase the construction industry as an employment route; provide CSCS (construction skills certification scheme) training and fund the test/card; and encourage those facing multiple barriers in the workplace to take positive steps toward gaining employment or moving into further training.
Louise Hyde, Building Futures project manager at Wates Group, said: “As a family-run business we understand that it is important to make sure our developments go beyond physical improvements to a community and leave a legacy of skills and hope.”
Building Futures trainees are recruited from the surrounding neighborhood and are given trade taster sessions such as plumbing, carpentry and plastering, and taught basic job skills and health and safety rules.
Travel industry careers take off with apprenticeships
Thomson and First Choice, part of Tui UK and Ireland, are offering 130 new apprenticeships in the travel industry in 2014, giving young people the chance to gain full-time employment while achieving recognized qualifications.
Thomson and First Choice have been recruiting apprentices aged 16 and over for the past 25 years. They have trained more than 7,000 people to date, recruiting young people through channels including job centers, schools and colleges.
Over the next 25 years, Thomson and First Choice expect the total number of completed apprenticeships to reach 15,000. More than 175 successful apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships were completed last year, with these numbers set to rise as vocational-training interest continues to grow.
Not only do apprenticeships offer a certified qualification, they also offer a GCSE equivalent in mathematics and English, personal learning and thinking skills and technical knowledge. Thomson and First Choice have more than 220 apprentices in the company at any time, with the majority completing Level 2 intermediate training and going on to achieve a Level 3 advanced qualification.
The HR director for Tui UK and Ireland, Caroline Kitcher, commented: “The apprenticeship scheme forms part of our commitment to recruit real talent to the travel industry. We offer great opportunities with strong prospects for the future. Employability, personal training and thinking, technical knowledge, resilience, coping techniques, teamwork, communication skills – these are all the tools that our apprentices gain through our training. We have found that apprentices are highly motivated, quick to learn and eager to achieve in their roles, working collaboratively in their teams. Many apprentices are at assistant manager level in one of our retail shops by the end of their apprenticeship. As well as gaining a recognized travel qualification, the skills that our apprentices learn are vital both in the workplace and in life.”
Chris Jones, chief executive at vocational education and training organization City & Guilds Group, commented: “Businesses of all types and across all industries need qualified, well-trained staff to boost productivity and growth. That is why apprenticeships are so important in developing tomorrow's workforce. Apprenticeships from Thomson and First Choice introduce young people to the workforce as valued, full-time employees, and into a career in a thriving industry. It sets them on a great path to advance their careers in the future.”
Stacie Guiel, Thomson and First Choice advanced apprentice of the year in 2013, joined the business in June 2011 as a 17-year-old retail apprentice. She showed dedication and commitment throughout her two-year training program to gain four distinctions in City & Guilds travel destination examinations. Based on her service, sales results and great winning behaviors, she is now a travel adviser.
“When the opportunity for an apprenticeship in travel services with Thomson and First Choice came up, I took it,” she said. “An apprenticeship in the travel industry appealed to me because you get to do the job itself while learning, so you gain the knowledge while also having the experience to support it.”
UK's first national hotel school launched
The UK's largest independent hotel management company has launched the country's first national hotel school.
Redefine BDL Hotels, which manages 54 hotels in the UK and Africa, has teamed up with New College, Telford, Shropshire, on the hospitality center for excellence.
Based at the Whitehouse Hotel in Telford, the hotel school is operated and managed by New College, Telford, while the hotel remains operating as normal under the management of Redefine BDL Hotels.
The training hub, which welcomed its first intake of 20 students in September, focusses on preparing students for roles in the hospitality industry. Working alongside the hotel's experienced staff and management team, students study courses such as culinary skills and apprenticeships. A foundation degree in events management is offered in partnership with the University of Derby.
Stephen Bench, divisional director at Redefine BDL Hotels, said: “We are passionate about attracting new talent into the hospitality industry. The national hotel school offers a fantastic opportunity for young people to get their foot in the door and gain some of the best training available.”
As part of the training initiative, students gain first-hand experience through work placements and internships at a selection of Redefine BDL Hotels’ national network of hotels – which includes private label, Hilton Worldwide, Best Western and IHG brands, among others.
The group also funds ten apprenticeship places as part of the agreement, as well as hosting guest master-classes at the national hotel school, giving the students expert insight and advice on running a successful hospitality business.
Stephen Bench added: “There is already a vast talent pool within the UK and the national hotel school provides the perfect outlet to nurture it. We are working closely with New College, Telford, to ensure that the students are given extensive hands-on training as well as the relevant academic support.”
“The training provides theory and an understanding of key business areas. It also equips candidates with real-world skills and prepares them for an active work environment. We also guarantee candidates an interview place for a relevant role within Redefine BDL Hotels, following the successful achievement of the accredited qualification.”
Costa Rica students get technical and business skills
Infosys BPO, the business-process-outsourcing subsidiary of Infosys, is collaborating with the government of Costa Rica and the Costa Rican investment promotion agency to train students on technical and business skills.
The program will play an important role in strengthening the existing talent pool in the country and provide an enriching international exposure to the selected students.
The ten-week intensive training program will see 64 students acquire skills on SAP and cloud technologies based on Microsoft and Java platforms at the Infosys campus in Mysore, India. The Costa Rican students will get hands-on experience by working on real-life projects. They will also get an opportunity to interact with other Indian and international trainees on the campus.
Infosys BPO has been closely associated with the government of Costa Rica and established a center in San Jose, Costa Rica, last year.
Anabel González, minister of foreign trade, commented: “Programs such as these, developed with companies like Infosys, allow Costa Ricans to acquire first-world knowledge, strengthening skills and the country's competitiveness. Education, talent and our human-resources capacity are widely recognized at an international level. These types of programs are proof of the country's openness to work hand in hand with companies like Infosys in the constant training of human capital in new knowledge areas. Furthermore, the program enables us to continue positioning the country as a prime location to foster innovative and high-value-added processes.”
Gautam Thakkar, chief executive and managing director of Infosys BPO, said: “Learning from some of the best minds in the business using world-renowned training methods at Infosys, the trainees from Costa Rica gain valuable skills and experience needed to work with global businesses. Costa Rica is a key element of our global footprint. This partnership exemplifies our commitment to collaborate with the community in geographies we operate in and address local challenges.”
Yersinio Jiménez, a student undergoing the training at Infosys, enthused: “It is highly motivating to have access to first-class instructors like those we have here at Infosys, India.”
Infosys is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology, software engineering and outsourcing services.
B&Q does it for Glenochil prison
A B&Q employee found himself behind bars when his superior DIY skills were called upon to teach a group of prison officers how to tile bathrooms and kitchens.
Bob Lakey, aged 61, who has worked for B&Q for more than 40 years, was asked to provide a train-the-trainers session at Glenochil prison in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, after Colin McKenzie, an instructor at the prison, happened to pop into B&Q's Coatbridge store where he discovered that the retailer offers you-can-do-it workshops for the public.
This resulted in an approach being made to B&Q for an expert tradesman to visit Glenochil to run a tiling workshop for four prison officers: Colin and Jamie Robins, both based at Glenochil; Paul Murphy, from Low Moss prison; and Andrew Easton, from Perth prison.
Customer service adviser and you-can-do-it team member Bob Lakey commented: “Glenochil prison gets supplies from B&Q in Stirling so there was already a relationship there. However, when Colin McKenzie found out that we have teaching workshops at Coatbridge, it was not long before I found myself behind bars!”
Bob Lakey has held various jobs at B&Q, including store manager, and now works part-time at B&Q Coatbridge after taking early retirement three years ago.
Enjoying his varied job advising the public and running workshops covering everything from basic plumbing and laying a floor to hanging wallpaper and tiling, he also travels the country, representing B&Q at consumer events.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Glenochil,” said Bob Lakey afterwards. “The great thing is that the skills I was able to pass on to the four prison officers will now be used to help people currently in prison in Scotland to learn useful skills and perhaps find employment when they leave custody. Everyone deserves an opportunity to make a better life, whatever their circumstances. The prison officers all worked really hard and were great pupils.”
Nigel Ironside, governor at Glenochil, commented: “Our staff will transfer their learning to our prison population, helping them to gain basic skills in tiling to increase their chances of gaining employment opportunities on release. This is a useful skill to possess for home improvements and augments the painting and decorating course they are undertaking.”