The journey so far …

This week, the lovely Tanya (my tutor) threw me in at the deep end.  She gave me thirty minutes to develop and then deliver a presentation on what I have learnt so far.  The audacity of it !!! Still, I’m in it to win it, so gave it my all.

I’ve now been on this apprenticeship journey for four months and am only just feeling more settled in what I don’t know.  I was initially panicking that I was maybe out of my depth.  But time and reflection is a great tool and probably appertaining to this particular journey.

So I thought for this month’s blog I would share with you what I have learnt to date.

During the first month I was tasked with researching Health & Safety in the Workplace, Equality and Diversity, the Prevent Duty, Safeguarding and British Values.  Most of this was fine as it falls within the knowledge I already had in my role of H&S or HR Manager.  Safeguarding, as discussed in an earlier blog, is something new to me and my employer, however the enrolment of apprentices brought this to the forefront and we had done some training, policy development and induction materials.

What tested me was the Prevent Duty and British Values.  I had to chuckle when my son asked me how my day was and I explained about this assignment. He informed me that they attend lessons on this in school.  I hadn’t realised it was now part of formal secondary education.  It definitely makes sense to educate people from a young age even though a parental concern could be “knowledge is power” and “will this encourage my child to investigate more / become radicalised?”.  This provoked interesting debates at work and home and also fits with our food safety audits around threat analysis and infiltration of product.

For the last three months we have been discussing learning theories, interventions, group dynamics, training needs analysis, learning channels.

Group dynamics was a fascinating read. Reflecting through training I have attended, it’s interesting to categorise characters and to think about how to adapt your training so all are involved. We looked at:

The aggressor – the person who often disagrees with others or is inappropriately outspoken

The negator – the person who is often critical of others ideas

The withdrawer – the person who doesn’t engage or participate in discussions

The recognition seeker – the person who is boastful and dominates the sessions

The joker – the person who introduces humour at inappropriate times

Learning Cycles: I very much enjoyed the theory side of learning and looking at learning cycles.

This model suggests there are five stages to learning but this is a continuing circle to ensure that the training remains relevant. This also falls alongside developing training needs analysis to ensure the training is relevant to the role, business and employee.

Stage 1 – Identifying the learning needs

Stage 2 – Design the Training

Stage 3 – Deliver the Training

Stage 4 – Assessment of the knowledge gained

Stage 5 – Evaluate the Training

Which leads on nicely to evaluating the training needed from a learners’ perspective, an organisation perspective, the suitability of the training, the return on investment, improved performance, etc. We’ve discussed Kirkpatrick’s model alongside Hamblin and Bramley. Although Kirkpatrick seems to be the “go to” theory for practitioners, I much preferred the simplistic view of Bramley, which again fits with the learning cycle.

Bramley’s evaluation model lays emphasis on improving effectiveness of a training programme through evaluation.  He wants to use the model not only for evaluation but taking all necessary measures which could enhance the impact of the training programmes.

Evaluation before the event – if the impact of the training programme is enhanced then the evaluation at pre-event stage is a must in order to ascertain as to whether the training is necessary or the improvement can be achieved through performance management, how the new learning will be integrated with the organisational context and level of change expected from the supervisor and colleagues in order to support the employee to perform at the desired level with the help of new learning.

Evaluation during the event – the input and evaluation performed at the time of conduct of training programme can play an important role in improving the quality of training programme in the time to come.  Any mid-course corrective measures are possible to be taken based on this feedback.  It also helps in making the overall objectives of the training programme not only to the trainer but also to the trainees so that they become focused. Since end evaluation cannot help much in improving the current training programme since whatever damage is there, it has already taken place and cannot be undone.  Therefore, the evaluation during the conduct of event is of utmost importance.  

Evaluation after the event – At this stage Bramley offers to evaluation the effective of training programme at three different levels: organisation level, team level and individual level.  He would like to measure the change in behaviour and learning of the trainee at this stage.  The change in behaviour can be assessed after discussion with the subordinates. Measurement of frequency of improved behaviour will help in establishing that the necessary and desired change in the behaviour of the trainee has taken place or not.  At the learning front, the change in knowledge is usually measured by giving pre and post-test to the trainee.  The change level of skills is also measured by observing the trainee actually performing on the job.  Attitude survey can help in establishing the change in attitude of the trainee.

I have also researched various ways of delivering training and learning interventions – through collaborative learning, classroom teaching, on-line learning, blended learning, gamification, slido interactive presentation / poll software, etc. The availability of training in this era is vast and leaves learning open to people in all walks of life – school, distance learners, ad-hoc learning, returning to work. The Open University, and other organisations now offer free learning for a multitude of subjects. I was aware of some of this change in learning, but had not fully embraced the enormity of such a shift.

The biggest thing I take away from this apprenticeship at present is self-growth. I now find myself writing a blog which is something I would never have chosen to do and I mentor far more people than I ever have and with confidence. Having to fill in a 20% off the job log each week really makes you analyse what you do day to day.

I have benefited from Tanya’s wise words to gain a wider understanding of how different people learn but alongside consideration of the business needs and a return on investment. I understand that you can tailor material to suit different people without diluting the message

The longer-term benefit for the business is to deliver Highfield (or other training providers) qualifications on site, or to co-train with a provider. There are standard qualifications that are specific to the food industry such as HACPP but not tailored to our work of bottling wine. It will also enable us to deliver health & safety and management training in smaller chunks that suits the availability of our staff and production needs. Further to this, we will be able to develop our apprenticeship programme and embed a learning culture at the beginning of an employee’s career.

Overall, I am enjoying my journey. At times it is hard to fit in research and assignments alongside a demanding day job, but I am confident the short-term pain will be worth it.

Big shout out to Tanya and the team at GEM Training for keeping me learning and pushing me to grow, and also to my colleagues. I am lucky enough to have a team that share my vision for the future and encourage me to just do it.

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