Comments are closed. It’s not the winning…On 1 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article The National Training Awards have been given a new lease of life. Elaine Essery finds out why taking part isstill worth the effortThe awards merry-go-round is at full pelt. Just as the euphoria of the 2001National Training Awards (NTAs) has died down, so the entry machine is gearingup again with only two months until the 2002 entries have to be submitted. Sois all the hard work that goes into entering for a training award worth it? ‘Yes’ is the unanimous response from the recently-announced winners of the2001 NTAs. Gaining accolades brings a number of benefits: raised profile,heightened employee motivation, a boost for recruitment, validation of trainingpractices, enhanced status for the training department, and the impetus todrive standards up even higher. But win or not, it is the good old Britishspirit of taking part that is important, according to the entrants. Jaguar Cars submitted three entries for an NTA. Two narrowly missed thefinal and one came up trumps. Education and training manager at the carmaker’sHalewood plant Phil Round says “We’re proud of winning, but we didn’tenter to win, we entered to benchmark ourselves against what training is beingdone out there. We may be a very big, prestige motor manufacturer with a brandname, but the important thing is to show we can subject ourselves to therigours of evaluation like everybody else.” The feedback the company received has helped it make improvements for thefuture. “We know where we are and how we can improve. We already have oneproject that we’re probably going to submit for 2002. It’s all aboutbenchmarking. If you’re going to become best in class you’ve got to know whatthe opposition is up to and when you’re best in class you’ve got to stay therebecause the opposition is going to want to catch up.” Benchmarking is a key benefit for TNT Express Services, an NTA winner in2000 and 2001. Group training and development manager Ruth James believes TNT’straining is in a league of its own within the transport sector and is keen tobenchmark performance against other industries. “NTAs assess you outsideyour sector and to win one is a big accolade,” she says. Ian Lawson, director of training and development at office supplies companyLyreco UK, agrees. His company won Training Magazine’s own annual competition –the TD awards – in 2001 and later that year collected an NTA. “We’d pickedup training awards in our own sector but then to step outside your industry anddo it in a much bigger pool with the TD awards and NTAs gives a lot of satisfaction.”Training awards are something new to TD2001 runners-up, Sheffield CityCouncil (SCC). It is unusual for local authorities to get involved and oftendifficult for them to measure the benefits of training, so making a goodshowing against the private sector and big companies was heartening for thecouncil. “The achievement validated and supported what we were doing and made usfeel we had a springboard for further development,” says head of training,Barbara Duckworth, who thinks more public bodies should enter. Entering thecompetition was also a means of looking at best practice and learning fromothers. What has grown out of it is that Lyreco, SCC and fellow runners-up,high-street bank Abbey National, met to explore ways they can share bestpractice. “We’re all joining the Industrial Society’s learning anddevelopment network and use that as a place to exchange ideas,” Duckworthexplains. Success in training awards can enhance the standing of both trainingprofessionals and their departments. Lyreco’s TD2001 win hastened Lawson’spromotion to director and he feels the process of entering was a valuabledevelopment exercise for his team. For James, winning two NTAs in the fouryears she has been in her post has not only validated the commitment of TNT’ssenior management to training and development as a business priority but also”it has enhanced both my role and that of the whole department. Topmanagement come to me and ask “what can we do next?” National Semiconductor (UK) in Greenock put in for an NTA for the first timein 2001 and hit the jackpot, winning a special award. Training manager GraceMitchell says: “It makes it easier when you go to top management and say‘I want to do something different – something out of the box’, because they knowwhat you’ve done has been recognised externally. Our achievement has given ourtraining department lots of exposure throughout the corporation and it’s givenus the impetus to go for more. We’re looking to see if there are any Europeanawards or other awards we can go for, as we’re keen to keep the focus andrecognition there.” It’s not just the training department that gets a boost. The whole businessand its employees can get a lift too. “Even before we won, everyone was interested because they knew about thesubmission,” says Mitchell. “Some of our operators were invited tothe awards presentation at the Glasgow Hilton and it was a bit like the Oscars.Everyone was biting their nails, hoping we’d win and the whole table eruptedwhen we did. At the end of the day it’s our people who are key to our success.They’re getting recognised and they’re constantly asking to take on morechallenges and learn new things. It’s enabling us to leapfrog into other areasof development with our operators.” Winning awards has boosted motivation among Lyreco’s workforce and raisedthe company’s profile. “It was a big news story in our industry where wewant to be seen as market leaders. It’s been great PR in getting the company’sname into print and getting people familiar with it,” says Lawson. James believes that an NTA can help win potential customers too. Salescolleagues putting together tenders for business often ask her for details ofawards. “Potential customers want to know as it helps them select acarrier. They know that if we’re giving excellent training they’re much morelikely to get the goods delivered safely and on time. It shows the importanceof training to the whole operation.” NTA winners recognise the value that displaying the logo has. “The logoon our letterhead is very powerful and we’ll add it to recruitment ads to helpattract good people,” says Mitchell. “It speaks volumes that thecompany is committed to investing in its people. It’s validation of IiP that weachieved in March 2001 but, while IiP is a standard you can be accreditedagainst, an NTA is something you have to win.” James agrees the NTA logo makes a difference in terms of recruitment.”People are much more likely to want to work for a company they can seeinvests in training and it makes people feel more valued.” Shining once moreDespite the obvious passion andenthusiasm of those involved in NTAs, research carried out two years agoindicated that they had lost some of their shine. In April 2001 UK Skills tookover the management of the awards after they had been run by the DfEE for 13years. Already the NTA profile appears to have risen.”Because the core business of UK Skills is aboutcelebrating excellence and the promotion of learning, training and development,NTAs fit with what we do. We have a lot of insight into the issues facingorganisations that are trying to increase their human capital,” says chiefexecutive Linda Ammon. “Our first job is to get the sparkle back into the awardsand we’ve got a lot of new ideas.” They include making better use of IT torun virtual workshops on the web to make NTAs accessible to all and boost thenumber of quality entries. “We run face-to-face workshops now, but I don’twant anyone not to be able to get involved because a workshop is at the wrongtime or they can’t afford to travel to it,” says Ammon. Another of her plans is to make more of case studies to buildup a readily accessible knowledge bank for individuals and organisations. UKSkills has already put in place two developments to enhance its capacity toencourage and support entrants. It has set up a mentoring system to giveone-to-one help to those wanting to prepare an entry and a champions network tohelp promote the competition (see page 12). Ammon’s goal is to raise the number of entries from 800 in 2001to 1,000 in 2002. But it’s not just a numbers game – she wants to see highquality too. “The key thing is that NTAs are about the direct link betweentraining and personal or business success. It’s not about winning an awardbecause you’ve done something nice – there’s a real bottom-line benefit. Theawards are about broadcasting the message that training pays.”Winners share wisdomWhat better way of promoting NTAs than through people who have been there,done it and believe in the agenda? Marilyn Radford, training and competencemanager at Co-operative Bank Financial Advisers, is a champion. Like otherchampions, Radford was responsible for submitting her organisation’s successfulNTA 2001 entry and now she wants to give something back. “I personally benefited so much from putting an entry inand so did the organisation that I’d like to help spread the message,” shesays. “I went to a workshop, which was excellent, then they gave me amentor to contact when I was actually writing the submission and he was great.We talked through whether it was a viable proposition in the first place thenhe guided me on my draft and helped me shape it into the format required. “I do think it’s a good discipline and an excellentstructure you have to work to for the submission and I now use it for othertraining programmes.” Radford is attending workshops to pass on her experience as anNTA winner. She is keen to raise the profile of the awards – particularlywithin her own sector. “Huge amounts of money are spent on training in thesector but the Co-operative Bank was the only financial services organisationto win an award. I would urge others to look into the NTAs and get externalrecognition for something they know has worked for them. It’s certainly helpedour profile.” Nacro’s Paul Champion is living up to his name when it comes tobacking NTAs. An individual regional and special award winner in 2000 andregional judge in 2001, Champion is something of an evangelist. He spreads theword through training provider networks, giving press interviews and speakingto those considering entering, explaining what NTAs are about and what theymean. From his role of delivering sports and recreation training toyoung offenders, Champion raised his profile so much that he was promoted toarea manager for all Nacro projects in Tyne and Wear, doubling his salary inthe process. “Winning an award changed my life. It’s given me a pivotalrole by putting me in a position where I sit on local management committees ofbodies like the LSC and Connexions where I can debate what change is neededwith those who can make it. It’s also helped raise the cause of the youngpeople we deliver training to and had an effect on the organisation.”The closing date for the National Training Awards 2002 is 17May. For more information visit www.nationaltrainingawards.comDetails of Training Magazine’s TD2002 Awards will be unveiled soon. Related posts:No related photos.