Developing a talent pipeline in the digital age

by Mar 13, 2020Alumni events

How do you prepare your workforce for the future, when that future is uncertain?

Tata Steel needed a way to tackle workplace challenges, like:

  • Changing ways of working
  • Traditional roles becoming obsolete
  • New technology
  • Skills gaps

So Huw Mathias, Training Delivery Manager at Tata Steel Europe, evaluated the company’s training programmes.

They were far too complicated, involving eight different providers, two awarding bodies, multiple management information systems, and various qualifications.

There was a huge opportunity to simplify and streamline.

‘The most significant change is that we wanted to redesign the programme to explore opportunities to improve quality, delivery and costs and for this to be employer rather than provider led,’ he said.

Employer-led training

Instead of having a range of Level 3 qualifications, Huw’s team developed a standardised Level 3 diploma that met the company’s needs.

This greatly simplified the training process, and allowed the company to harness internal expertise.

They also moved to have their qualifications assessed internally. That meant staff could spend more time on site.

The programme has been a huge success. Delivery costs are down £4k per person and customer satisfaction is up.

Princess Royal Training Award quality

Huw shared the programme’s success story with learning and development professionals at a networking breakfast in March.

The event, held at the Tata Steel Academy in Port Talbot, Wales, was an opportunity for Princess Royal Training Award alumni to connect and share best practice with other L&D professionals in the region.

Tata Steel received a Princess Royal Training Award in 2019 in recognition of training excellence that delivered major benefits to the business.

Unexpected benefits

Huw said the most significant benefit is the robust pipeline of apprenticeship talent at Tata Steel now. The apprentices gain valuable training, and help the company retain skills that are hard to find in the labour market.

The apprenticeship programme is competitive, highly sought-after, and boasts an impressive 96% completion rate.

Tata Steel expected cost savings in the long run from overhauling training.

What it didn’t expect was for the programme to actually earn money.

‘We now generate an income stream from in-sourcing the activity over the last three years,’ Huw said.

‘In addition to this initial income, through the success of this model, we have in-sourced further activity, which has generated an additional income stream which has been an additional and unexpected benefit.’

Training with impact

So how do you create a training programme that fits company objectives and makes a difference to employees?

This is Huw’s advice:

Appraise: Undertake an annual appraisal of your programmes from a range of stakeholders to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Collaborate: Take a collaborative approach to improvements. We embraced opportunities from training providers, equipment and goods suppliers and internal subject matter experts to improve our design and delivery model.

Lead: Seize the opportunity to lead change from what your employer/ customer wants. Although we had forged good partnerships with our providers, we had on occasions been provider-led and [were limited by] what they could deliver.

Share: Visit other employers to share and learn good practice.

Exchanging talent

The UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) agreed with Huw’s advice.

Jonathan Matthews, Head of Central Support at the DVLA told attendees how the department faced similar workforce issues a few years ago – especially in the Operations and Customer Service Directorate.

The business area of 4700 who handle 1 million calls a month and receiving 100,000 pieces of mail a day.

They needed more support to develop in the face of digital transformation and increased focus to develop an autonomous working culture.

Rebecca Williams, Leadership and Development, Operations and Customer Service Directorate, has led on the creation of a ‘People Plan’ to ensure that all people related activity within the directorate is aligned and reflects the changing landscape in the business as well as the expectations of leaders.

They needed to engage in a robust evaluation process, and ensure that ROI was evidenced, especially as a government agency.

“Investment in leadership and development programmes is extremely costly and challenging,” Jonathan said.

That’s why the DVLA designed a three-pronged development offer that is fully measurable and linked to business outcomes.

It includes three strands:

  • STEP, for aspiring leaders
  • LEAP, for new leaders with ‘leading leaders’ masterclasses
  • FLY, a talent programme bespoke to the person with mentoring, coaching, projects and internal/external placements

The results have been excellent and this is how the team received a Princess Royal Training Award in 2019, of which they are extremely proud of.

Jonathan and Rebecca finished the event by inviting attendees to join their talent exchange initiative and increase the network.

That way, employees can go on secondment to experience new environments where they have to “rely on their social skills, communications skills, and first impressions.”

If you would like to join DVLA’s talent exchange programme, please contact us.

Alumni events are for past recipients of a Princess Royal Training Award to share best practice with other alumni and other truly passionate HR and L&D professionals. Want to join this strong network? Apply now for the 2020 Princess Royal Training Awards >

Applications close soon on 31 March 2020.




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