The acquisition of Hawksmere by Croner.CCH has ultimately been a very positive move for the training company. It has given them the financial stability – not only to expand into existing areas – but to pitch for prestigious niche sectors. For example, in March 2000 they took on the overall running of the Royal Town Planning Institute?s (RTPI) training events from the institute itself. Although still branded under the RTPI identity, the events have benefited from the expertise of a professional training company. Likewise, Hawksmere has taken over the running of their parent company?s own training events – which grew out of it?s publishing division – under the branding of Croner Training, with very positive results.
Croner events offer practical, interactive training in essential business areas such as employment law, VAT, credit control, payroll and pensions.
A secret to Hawksmere?s success has been the diversity of their events. By producing events as varied as Successful PR, Successful Business Acquisitions and Disposals and Essential Ofsted it has meant that they could weather a downturn in certain sectors by concentrating their efforts in other areas.
Over the last ten years Hawksmere has become one of the UK?s foremost training organisations with a reputation for world-class excellence in the provision of public seminars, in company-tailored programmes and consultancy services. They design and present more than 600 public seminars annually in the UK and internationally for an audience of well over 15,000 professionals and executives in the commercial, industrial and public sectors.
Executive Director Michael Bentley believes that Hawksmere?s ?practical approach and commitment to providing value for money? and, above all, the ?focus on helping our customers improve their performance? has been pivotal to the company?s growth. Asked if he could pinpoint the core objective of Hawksmere, Bentley hoped that ?Every delegate should leave each programme better equipped to put enhanced techniques and expertise to immediate use.? Given that last year Hawksmere achieved 15,000-plus delegates, it would appear that the company is achieving his aim.
Hawksmere has its roots of origin in the publishing group Longmans, and the conference and seminar business has been operating since 1979. In January 1988, the seminar division split from Longman to become Hawksmere, which operated independently until 1998 when the company was bought out by the Kingston-upon-Thames-based Croner Publications Limited (now known as Croner.CCH).
Nobody can sensibly dispute the value of workforce to any employer, whether or not this is of the watch-and-learn type or of some form of formalised and structured programme. What however deserves to be more widely recognised is the value to business of widening the scope of this learning; of making it more widely applicable beyond the strict confines of the job role; of making it as accessible as possible to any individual; and of the help and support that is on offer from the vocational post-16 learning sector to make this happen.
There are a wide variety of funding streams available to resource it; there are around 1,300 learning providers such as ourselves willing to come out to your premises to implement it; there is the expertise of around 500 Colleges of Further Education who will do everything they can to help you develop and promote it. All that is needed is the willingness on the part of the employer base at large to take a step forward, seek that assistance, and help to raise not only the skill base of their own company, but of their town, their City, their region and that of the country as a whole.
It is not however just in the arena of existing employees that industry should be seeking to raise skill levels. By working closely with local providers and Colleges of Further Education in particular, a picture can rapidly be built up of the skills and expertise that regions, areas and even individual employers require from their workforce. This allows the local training infrastructure to organise itself in such a way that these skills can be increasingly met at a higher level when employees are taken on.
Employment Service programmes such as the New Deal offer learning opportunities for long-term unemployed people to acquaint themselves with the skills that employers who are actively recruiting actually need on a day-to-day basis. The involvement of employers in providing these opportunities is a major factor in its success, and many have also taken up the generous subsidies available to take on long-term unemployed people who are seeking a chance to put their new-found skills into action. A range of other new programmes developed by the Employment Service are now being implemented to bring the skills level of those currently out of work in line with employers? current needs, either through refreshing out of date experience or exposing the individual to a whole new world of vocational learning.
This link between providers and Colleges is also a crucial component of the new University for Industry. Publicly branded as LearnDirect, and the subject of extensive national marketing, this seeks to use the full potential of the Internet to deliver online learning opportunities in “bite-size chunks” at a pace designed to suit each and every individual.
There are currently around 1,000 Centres all over the country which will enrol learners on demand, and allow them to access any of around 250,000 sets of vocational learning materials from the comfort of their own home PC. Many of these Centres are sited within public areas ? within pubs, clubs, shopping centres, and crucially at places of work. More and more employers are increasingly seeing the benefit of providing IT facilities at which their workforce can use their lunch hours, tea breaks or own leisure time to develop interests and capabilities that in both a direct and indirect fashion can positively affect their productivity and whole approach to the working day.
Once again, TBG Learning can provide support and training in this regard ? many of our Centres are already equipped to deliver LearnDirect courses, with many others planned to come online over the course of the next year. Our staff are also available to train the trainers within your workplace, helping you to build an IT learning facility that will pay dividends in the future in much the same way as the existing social and recreational facilities you provide build a sense of loyalty and camaraderie amongst a workforce.