Maturing approach to training in the Third Sector

Training for Third Sector organisations can be difficult, with limited resources, geographically dispersed audiences and large numbers of transient volunteers. Organisations are challenged to ensure their people are competent, while at the same time make them feel positive about learning.

eLearning is already widely used, however, a significant amount of training is happening because organisations feel they have to do it, to satisfy standards or regulatory bodies. The result can be a large number of people completing the same training, without any evidence that an intervention is required. Creating cost for the organisation in terms of wasted resources, as well as the risk of turning off staff and volunteers with a poor learning experience.

I was recently at the launch of Creating a Digitally Confident Third Sector in Scotland: A Call to Action. Many of the conversations at this event were around challenging the status quo. It is recognised that when organisations and their people become more effective in using digital tools they can change expectations and transform organisational practices.

When planning training, consideration should be given to individual’s existing knowledge and experience. By focusing learning activities based on need, organisations get a better return on their limited training resources and more motivation from their workforce to complete training that they feel is relevant and worthwhile.

Simple online assessments can start to identify the skills and knowledge already held by your workforce. Tests can be created using the same tools as your eLearning and be deployed via your learning management system (LMS). Reporting can give you a view of competency across your organisation on particular subject areas, and better target training to where it is needed.

As an example, I worked with an organisation who planned to run fire safety training for around 1000 staff in 50 locations. Following a review of the training approach it was decided to implement a test in advance of training, to check current competency on fire safety. The test was deployed using their LMS, with a bank of questions which was randomised into a 20 question test to ensure validity. Only staff who had not demonstrated the required level of competency in the test undertook the training. The organisation made a saving of £230k over 3 years by making this change. This increased to £475k by extending the approach to a range of health and safety topics.

Providing a personalised approach to training means that people are more likely to engage with their learning. This can be reinforced by recognising the skills already displayed and new ones gained. Open Badges are digital accreditations which are used to reward learning and achievement. Learners can collect badges from multiple sources, build them up over time and display the badges online as a record of their experience. Open Badges offer the Third Sector a powerful, and relatively low-cost, way to recognise their people.

Working with a learning technology partner like eCom Scotland can help you refine your training strategy and realise the maximum benefit from new and existing tools. eCom offers a consultative approach to developing learning strategy, creating training interventions, and recognising and rewarding your workforce.


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