Notes and news

David Pollitt (Information Officer/Freelance Journalist, Oldham, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 2 March 2015



Pollitt, D. (2015), "Notes and news", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 47 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Notes and news

Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 47, Issue 2.

Walmart program under the microscope

Supermarket giant Walmart has commissioned a study from the University of Oxford, UK, into the effectiveness of its Empowering Women Together (EWT) initiative.

Launched in 2011, it seeks to provide market access and incubate women-owned businesses – from very small to medium-size enterprises – by helping them to scale up for selling to Walmart customers. Most of the products are sold through the EWT portal on the Walmart web site; however, the first of the EWT suppliers has just moved to store distribution and it is hoped many more will do so.

The EWT team identifies the women-owned businesses, often working through other companies specialized in developing world markets. It then helps during the processes of design, production, logistics and marketing to draw goods from around the world into the Walmart supply chain.

"The challenges of orchestrating the production and movement of these goods are considerable," remarked Professor Linda Scott, who leads the team looking into the initiative. "Several of these businesses are in places where the infrastructure itself is poorly developed, leading to unexpected disconnects of all sorts. I have been impressed so far by the determination of everyone in this program, from the EWT team at Walmart to employees in the women's businesses, to make it work."

"In recent years there has been a growing realization that increasing women's incomes has profound positive effects on a wide range of indicators from fertility to disease burdens to national competitiveness, so the obstacles are great but the goal is worth the effort."

"Because Walmart draws its offerings from all kinds of supply chains – from fisheries to agriculture to crafts and more – the potential for this initiative to help women, if it can be made to work, is historic. And, since this is a holistic system, the research itself will be ground-breaking. No work has yet been done that analyzes the women's economy as a complex interaction between business-building, employment opportunities and purchase patterns, all among women, especially in the context of engagement with a major corporation."

She cautioned that the program is in its infancy and welcomes the chance to understand its development and impact from the start. "We have already found that the usual expectations for measurement are going to need substantial augmentation. There is a lot of variability and the outcomes are extremely complex. The challenge is to carefully build a system that will reliably measure the impact of the program, paying attention to the interactions among all the populations."

The researchers will explore the demands of the Walmart system on the entrepreneurial organizations relating to issues such as ethical standards, financial prerequisites, staffing and volume requirements. The researchers will also examine how the program affects business strength, the cultural and operational setting for the entrepreneurs and their employees, the role of aggregators who are stepping in to shepherd new entrepreneurs through the Walmart process, and the acceptance of the program by Walmart customers.

Catering company is training for Europe

A UK catering company hosted a series of road-shows, developed online training courses and created online and printed information for its chefs and front-of-house teams to ensure they were ready to handle the changes in food labeling that came into force at the end of last year.

CH&Co briefed all its 3,000 staff on the Food Information for Consumers Regulation as part of a five-year, £2 million commitment to staff training.

More than 400 executive chefs, chefs and managers, including the executive board, attended bespoke road-shows, taking them through the food-information labeling requirements, including the complexities of allergen labeling. This was quickly followed by an online training course, devised by independent specialists specifically for CH&Co, before they cascaded their knowledge to their teams.

In addition to staff training on food nutrition and labeling, CH&Co created signage, point-of-sale information and revised menu cards for all its food-service business units – Charlton House, Chester Boyd, Ampersand, Lusso and Apostrophe.

Emma Hill, health and safety manager at CH&Co said "We are constantly reviewing and improving our training opportunities and developing our staff so they can competently interpret the requirements of the Food Information for Consumers Regulation and its importance to the business. We see this as a natural extension of our chef nutrition-training scheme, which is why we are committing so much time to training all chefs in our business and industry and commercial-business units."

CH&Co was recently reaccredited with gold champion status from Investors in People for its positive working environment and development opportunities. It is awarded to only 1.23 percent of recognized organizations across all industries, and CH&Co believes that it is the only company in the contract-catering industry to hold this status.

Sales staff get lessons in sleep

The Sleep Council is delivering the UK bed industry's first professionally accredited sleep-focussed selling program.

The council teamed up with e-learning specialist CM Group to deliver the Sleep Council sales academy and sleep hub mobile-learning app, both incorporating an interactive social forum.

Simon Williams, marketing manager at the Sleep Council, said: "We are able to deliver and track all the learning experiences of participating retail-sales staff, whether it be through e-learning as part of the Sleep Council sales academy or via mobile learning with the sleep-hub app. We have a clear picture of our whole learning program and the positive impact it is having on retail-sales staff."

A social forum in the apps provides an interactive communications channel between the Sleep Council and the retail-sales staff. Using the forum, shop-based sales staff are able to discuss the latest sleep-related news, developments and learning materials. The forum has also enabled the Sleep Council to respond with possible areas of additional training.

Waste King praises the value of apprenticeships

A specialist collections, clearance and recycling company is looking to employ more apprentices in all areas of its business following the successful experience of a member of its team.

Ben Brimson has earned a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3 in customer service while working as an office supervisor and team leader at Waste King, UK. He is now embarking on an NVQ Level 5 in management and leadership.

On leaving the Army Air Corps, Ben Brimson spent time as a car salesman before joining Waste King as an apprentice. He explained: "I wanted to work for a company that had a close-knit, ‘family’ atmosphere – and that wanted to invest in its workforce's skills."

"Having done a level 2 qualification during my time in the Army, I wanted to try for a level 3 qualification. Waste King was extremely supportive and, together with a local training/coaching company, we chose a course that was in line with Waste King's operational needs."

Candidates for the NVQ Level 3 qualification are allowed to take up to 14 months to achieve the qualification but Ben Brimson completed his studies in a year and achieved a distinction in both modules. His studies took place at Waste King's premises and he received monitoring and coaching visits from supervisors from the local training company.

Waste King's Managing Director, Glenn Currie, commented: "We are delighted that Ben has achieved a nationally recognized qualification and also with the apprenticeship system that can help someone like Ben to improve work-related knowledge and skills. Encouraged by his successful studies, Ben is not only proving himself to be an able worker but is now also taking on greater responsibility in his customer-service and administration work for us."

Waste King's Operations Director, Andy Cattigan, added: "Having had such a positive experience of employing apprentices in our organization, we are now looking to recruit further would-be apprentices in all areas of our operations."

Ben Brimson commented: "I would recommend the apprenticeship route to any young person looking for a job. It broadens your outlook, gives you new knowledge and skills and enables you to be more efficient and effective at your job."

Sponge joins the mix at United Biscuits

Using video starring its own staff has helped United Biscuits to improve training in performance management and changed behaviors at work.

The global company behind brands such as McVitie's and Jaffa Cakes highlighted its work with e-learning provider Sponge UK at this year's Learning Technologies conference.

United Biscuits commissioned Sponge UK to produce a 40-minute e-learning course named the ABC of driving performance, to provide team leaders and managers with tips and guidance on areas such as constructive feedback, appraisals and coaching for performance.

The course includes video clips of tricky conversations between a fictitious Factory Manager, James, and his Line Manager, Karen. Both roles are played by real-life United Biscuits employees.

The learning and development business partner at United Biscuits, Lisa McCandless, said: "We made a conscious decision to use our staff, not actors, so the e-learning course would feel as authentic as possible. We were able to explore some of the challenges of performance management through the carefully constructed video clips which tap into the emotional side of feedback meetings."

"Despite being non-mandatory, the e-learning course has achieved great participation rates and contributed to positive behavior change."

Sponge UK's Managing Director, Louise Pasterfield, said: "United Biscuits’ commitment and enthusiasm for delivering effective performance-management training have really paid off."

"By investing in high-quality video content to bring e-learning to life, the company has engaged and inspired staff as never before. It shows what can be achieved with the power of video in learning."

United Biscuits has also worked with Sponge UK on an e-learning course for new recruits.

Templar Executives pioneers cyber-security training scheme

Cyber-security specialist Templar Executives is among the first organizations to gain accreditation under the newly launched CESG-certified training scheme.

The information-assurance arm of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) launched the scheme. It is managed by APM Group, an accreditation, certification and examination body specializing in certification schemes for individuals, organizations and software. The scheme is designed to ensure high-quality cyber-security training courses delivered by training providers. A key objective of the program is to enhance the professionalism of those working in the cyber-security industry.

Templar Executives has been awarded accreditation for three of its cyber-academy courses: board-level cyber security for senior information risk owners; cyber security for information-asset owners; cyber-security awareness.

The courses aim to create an holistic understanding of cyber security encompassing people, processes, policy, culture and ICT. Templar Executives seeks to provide best practice in order to protect businesses and public organizations from internal and external cyber threats while mitigating risk to reputation, people and financial performance.

Delegates will also develop capability in leadership and governance, information risk management as well as knowledge of relevant legislation and best practices in using social media.

Led by expert trainers, also accredited under the CESG scheme, the courses offer a forum using real-life scenarios to underpin learning, and demonstrate how effective cyber security can help to deliver an organization's business outcomes and competitive advantage.

Andrew Fitzmaurice, Templar Executives chief executive, said: "Now, more than ever, it is crucial to have defined confidence in the security of information as it is such a big part of our everyday lives. A knowledge of cyber security is critical but hand in hand with its heightened importance in recent years has come a need to professionalize and create a system of checks and balances that ensures best practice in cyber-security training."

"According to the Cabinet Office, the overall cost of cyber crime to UK business is estimated to be £27 billion a year, so it is a very real and present threat."

"Gaining CESG accreditation is a welcome achievement for us, as it confirms that the organization has demonstrated its competence and ability to perform against a highly acknowledged industry standard," he added.

Templar Executives, established in 2007, works with a wide range of public and private-sector organizations, including global FTSE 100 companies, small firms, businesses operating in high-security environments and those that are yet to fully explore their information-risk profile.

The CESG certified training scheme is part of the national cyber-security program to develop the UK's knowledge, skills and capability in all aspects of cyber security.

Apprentices deliver at TNT UK

TNT UK was recognized for its outstanding contribution to apprenticeships at the most recent National Apprenticeship awards. The highly commended employer stood out from more than 1,400 entrants to receive the prize.

The awards, now in their eleventh year, recognize excellence in two areas: businesses that grow their own talent with apprentices; and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces.

TNT UK also features among the top 100 Apprenticeship Employers, a list compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with training provider City and Guilds.

Sue Barnes, director of HR at TNT UK, said: "It is an honor to have been independently recognized among the country's top operators of apprenticeships. We are proud to have developed our ‘home-grown timber’ apprenticeship program, enabling us to fuel our talent pipeline by offering real career opportunities to people. We have seen 99 percent of our apprentices go on to be promoted within the company, helping us to maintain a skilled workforce for the future."

TNT UK, which has employed apprentices since 1982, was recognized for its commitment to young people working across a range of roles, including driving, customer services, operations, administrative and management positions.

The company was also acknowledged for the different programs that give existing employees the chance to further their careers. One key area in which TNT UK's apprentice program is delivering long-term benefit is younger drivers.

The company has also been applauded for work carried out in schools near its UK headquarters in north Warwickshire, offering CV-writing support, career guidance and apprenticeships in its mail-rooms.

Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:

"The national apprenticeship awards recognize the very best and all of the finalists should be feeling very proud. Recognizing excellence encourages others to achieve and I hope that people and employers will be inspired by our finalists’ stories to discover what apprenticeships can do for them."

"Apprenticeships are thriving in England. They are becoming an increasingly popular option for businesses and it is easy to see why. They enable companies to grow their own workforce, providing highly-qualified and motivated employees. Apprentice employers report real business benefits."

"Apprenticeships also offer better career prospects, enabling people to get in and go far with some of Britain's leading companies. The continuing expansion of higher apprenticeships means apprentices can now train to degree level in more sectors than ever, providing further opportunities for individuals to fully realize their potential and maximize their career progression."

Be Wiser on track for success

A UK motor insurance broking company that runs its own in-house apprenticeship scheme is helping to nurture talent on the race track as well as in the classroom.

Be Wiser Insurance, based at Andover in Hampshire, has been sponsoring a team in the super-stock series of motorbike racing for the past three years. The company has now increased its sponsorship to the team to enable it to compete in the British super-bikes championship for 2015.

Mirroring its training academy, which is run by experienced trainers helping to nurture young talent, the Be Wiser Kawasaki team has signed-up two riders with different levels of experience.

Chris Walker, aged 42, is a four-time runner-up in the British super-bikes championship and a former winner in the super-bike world championship. He has a long association with Kawasaki. With his knowledge and experience, Be Wiser believes that he will be a good mentor for his teammate, up-and-coming 21-year-old Danny Buchan.

"I am really excited to be back out on the grid in 2015 and be part of this new project with the Be Wiser Kawasaki team," said Chris Walker.

Danny Buchan is being promoted from his winning the Pirelli national super-stock 1,000cc championship in the 2014 season. With many successes in his short road-racing career, he says that he is ready for a new challenge with the support of Chris Walker and the team.

"I believe I am now ready for the move up into the premier British super-bike class and I would like to thank everyone for putting their belief in me and giving me this fantastic opportunity," said Danny Buchan.

The team is managed by former British super-bike champion Tommy Hill and is shaping up to be a serious contender for next season.

By investing in its staff, both in the classroom and on the race circuit, Be Wiser Insurance hopes it is on the right track for success. So far, its head-start (school-leavers’ program), sure-start (undergraduate program) and kick-start (graduate program) are attracting high-caliber students who want to succeed.

"We strongly believe that investing in the next generation is critical for a successful business and we have taken this philosophy on to the race circuit with our Be Wiser Kawasaki team by giving Danny Buchan the opportunity to step-up and compete in the BSB championship," said Be Wiser Director, Andrew Dunkerley. "Like our students in the classroom, he will be learning from his mentor, Chris Walker. At the end of the day, individual success with Be Wiser Insurance is everyone's success, from trainee to managing director."

Vodafone Foundation helps to connect with Europe

The Vodafone Foundation has teamed up with UK-based paid internships web site Intern Avenue to help to connect thousands of students and graduates with suitable employers across Europe.

The Vodafone Foundation-Intern Avenue partnership follows an independent report commissioned by the Vodafone Institute which recommended that digital services that match young people with employment opportunities should be expanded across Europe.

The report, by the independent think-tank the Institute for Strategic Dialog, recommended that public and private-sector organizations should expand their investment in digital-recruitment services to enhance access to careers information and potential employers for a new generation of Europeans seeking to enter the workplace for the first time.

The Vodafone Foundation's funding will be used to help Intern Avenue to develop a mobile service to complement the organization's existing web-based tools.

Intern Avenue matches candidates – typically at undergraduate and graduate level – with employers using a data-based scoring system. To date, around 2,000 employers and 40,000 intern applicants have registered with the service.

Vodafone Group Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett said: "The next generation in the European workplace was born digital and thinks mobile, with smart-phones and apps at the center of daily life. Finding the right work opportunity is tough. Intern Avenue can really make a difference, and we are delighted to help it to expand across Europe and into mobile."

Intern Avenue Founder and Chief Executive Dupsy Abiola said: "We believe that the support from the Vodafone Foundation will enable us to make significant strides toward creating a unique and scalable mobile solution to help young people to find work. Our organizations share a passion for technology, innovation and tackling the problem of youth unemployment. We are truly delighted to be working closely with such a major player in this space."

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