It’s not often you can bring a range of employers together in a room from large multinational banks to small charities devoted to the welfare of donkeys; this is what makes The Princess Royal Training Awards so unique.
Now in its seventh year, The Princess Royal Training Awards continue to recognise employers from across the United Kingdom who have delivered outstanding training and development programmes that have had direct impact on their people and organisation.
This year 46 organisations came together at London’s Banqueting House on Tuesday 6th December to be personally congratulated on stage by HRH The Princess Royal, alongside Chief Executive of City & Guilds, Kirstie Donnelly MBE and Chair of City & Guilds, Dame Ann Limb.
To begin proceedings, representatives from Santander, Christies Care and Travis Perkins were welcomed onto the stage by Kirstie to discuss the impact of their award-winning programmes.
Each employer had an inspiring story to tell about how their training has proved to close skills gaps in their industry, tackle some of the greatest challenges employers are currently facing and ultimately improve the lives of their learners. First to talk about their award-winning programme was Reena Vue, Product Owner from the HR Capability Team at Santander.
Reena described how Santander created a training programme built from scratch to tackle the increasing number of customers becoming victims of scams during the pandemic. Feedback from frontline workers has been that they’ve felt an increase in confidence when talking to customers about transactions and they are able to be more supportive and protect customers before they become a victim.
Reena said, “We’ve seen a significant increase in cases being reported, which showed that our colleagues are really following process and identifying scams early on. We’ve had 95% of our new starters complete the training within their initial three to four weeks which shows they were really engaged with it. The value of transactions saved from scammers in the first month alone was about £500,000.
To say that we have received this prestigious award means we can showcase it to our customers, colleagues and really build that brand loyalty and advocacy as well as attracting new talent to the organisation.”
The audience then turned their attention to Tim Middleton, Head of Operations at Christies Care. Christies Care were revalidated for their induction programme, initially awarded in 2017. By introducing online learning, Christies Care were able to upscale their provision quickly during the pandemic and continue training carers at a time of peak demand and immense pressure.
Tim said, “It was important to praise our designated team who work tirelessly yet are constantly looking to improve as they take pride in their work. As we all know, recruitment in health and social care is critical and one of our key features is that we take on inexperienced people. So long as they have the right attitude and can pass our training, we then make sure they are trained to a certain level, which will allow them to work on their own dealing with people with complex needs. The quality of our training is really reassuring for potential clients and to be awarded gave us confidence to build on this.
The aim now is to refresh the training as we grow and make sure learners have access to a full library of training content which they can access across the country in people’s homes.”
Finally, Michael McGurn, Apprenticeship Coach at Travis Perkins Plc was asked to explain how they have used the apprenticeships levy in an impressive way to create an Earn and Learn Apprenticeships programme which addresses the male-dominated and aging workforce demographic typical for the construction sector.
Michael said, “A younger diverse workforce has a positive impact on our business. Traditionally our industry is guilty of recruitment based on experience but what we’ve tried to do is build a sustainable strategy where we’re recruiting based on behaviours and potential. By doing so, any time we identify a skills gap, we are then able to upskill that colleague through training and apprenticeships. It can be a little more difficult and takes longer but it has a much better return on investment. Our customers also love seeing young people in their branches and it changes the dynamic of the team as well. Feedback from our branch managers is that a young person brings a new perspective, a new energy and they force the business to have some difficult conversations sometimes.
There is a massive skill shortage in the construction industry now due to older more experienced tradespeople leaving the sector. At Travis Perkins, we feel its our responsibility to help prepare the next generation of people for a career in construction and apprenticeships are a fantastic way to do that. It gives the young person a chance to build up knowledge and gain accredited skills under supported living whilst also having a wage, which is so important during these difficult times, and it gives our older employees the opportunity to move into coaching and mentoring.”
The impact of the apprenticeship programme is still being realised, but already 35.2% of this year’s applicants are female, the average age of recruits is now 25 years old and BAME representation has increased from 1.2% to 6.2%.
A common theme which shone throughout the panel discussion was the employer commitment to making ongoing improvements to their training programmes and ensuring that what they do has a positive impact on learners, broader society and the economy. As organisations continue to grapple with challenges such as the rising cost of living/doing business and recruitment and retention issues, it’s inspiring to see so many in the room prioritising learning as a key to having a positive effect on skills shortages and organisational growth. We’re already looking forward to seeing and celebrating next year’s outstanding workplace learning programmes.