How We’ve Responded to the Last Year! | National Apprenticeship Week ’21
As we’ve looked to National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we thought a good place to start was looking back at the year we’ve all had.
2020 was an extremely challenging year and dominated by our collective initial response to the Covid-19 (C-19) pandemic. At Train Together, we knew that we needed to respond positively and proactively; we needed to do this for our learners, our employer partners, and we needed to do this for our team. The predominant way in which we did this was to invest, invest and invest. When things are tough, it’s what we know and have seen good organisations do. So how have we invested during this turbulent time?
Prior to the C-19 pandemic, Train Together invested in internal communication systems to reduce the internal communications delivered by email and increase transparency on organisation decision to the whole team. Initially, we embraced Microsoft (MS) Yammer however in Summer 2019, we moved to MS Teams. This decision meant that by the time we experienced Lockdown 1, our team were already fully proficient at using MS Teams and able to communicate effectively despite our physical offices being closed. Immediately, we started to meet daily at 9:30am to ensure that the whole team were aware of daily issues, challenges and decisions. We have continued to meet regularly as a team and now meet 3 time per week for 30 mins focusing on different elements of the business as well as each other; Friday’s meeting is all about fun and rounds the week off nicely for everyone. This approach to well being ensures that our team are supported so that they have the resilience to support our learners and our employer partners.
In 2020 we became a Limited Liability Partnership. This means our team are Partners (with a upper case ‘P’) in the business. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for sometime and this felt the right year to approach the team and offer a Partnership. It means the whole Train Together team is invested to an even greater extent than we were before. As a result, we have even greater transparency of information and we regularly seek input from the whole team on matters that will shape the organisation’s future. We were already an organisation that invested in our staff but now, as Partners, we are doubling our efforts and seeking to change the way in which we do business so that everyone equally benefits.
We have also grown our team by 33% since the start of the pandemic and grown the number of learners who we support by 25%. We have created capacity to respond to our learner and employer partner’s needs – sometimes this is by developing new delivery models for existing programmes and sometimes by developing new courses. We have also wanted to grow our team where we have seen that this will reduce pressures on our existing team and where it fits into the organisation’s strategic road map. For us 2020, has been a time to build what we had planned – it has been a time to be courageous.
We are extremely proud of how our team has responded to the challenges of 2020 and how they have prepared themselves for the challenges of 2021.
Our Systems and Technology
Over the last year we have made some huge changes and investments to support our learners and employer partners in the best way we possibly could. It was tough – for everybody – and we knew we had to step up our game to ensure we met our duties and responsibilities. Recognising that the world has changed irrevocably, we invested in systems and technology that would ensure we had improved visibility and ones that would provide our learners with greater insight into their learning journey. Here are the systems and technology we have invested in:
MyConcern and Sentry
Online safeguarding tools that enables us to capture safeguarding concerns and incidents in real time and manage these cases to the very best of our ability. Our Partners are more able to effectively capture and raise concerns to our Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and provide support alongside our Learner Support team. Our priority is always our learner’s mental health and well being and MyConcern helps us to shed light on those that need a helping hand or a listening ear. Sentry supports us to manage the administrative side of safeguarding management and acts as the foundation to the great work being delivered by the team and our DSL.
CognAssist and BKSB
CognAssist is an initial assessment and virtual learning tool that gives our learners a set of coping mechanisms and additional learning support strategies to embed within their learning, their job and their daily lives. It provides a tremendous amount of help to all learners and adapts their journey with us to help them with their success and achievements. In addition to the system, we have brought on board a dedicated Partner to support our team and support the learners. We also changed our English and maths assessment and virtual learning environment to BKSB. This change has significantly improved the online learning offer for our apprentices and Functional Skills learners in terms of English and maths development.
Virtual Learning Environments
As you can imagine, as soon as the C-19 restrictions were in place, we moved at speed to full remote learning. Prior to this, we delivered a blended approach of face to face and virtual teaching, training and assessment. We re-imagined our courses and apprenticeships, and with the tools we had available at our finger-tips aimed to offer our learners and employer partners as seamless a transition as possible. To do this, we fully utilised all the systems and technology available and invited our learners onto webinars and workshops hosted on our MS Teams platform. Ultimately we wanted to make sure that face to face and group contact was protected as much as possible. As 2020 progressed, we invested in other online platforms to support our learners to an even greater extent, investing in Mindful Education for our Accountancy and Professional Services learners, and Anspear for our Childcare and School Education learners. These two e-Learning platforms along with existing systems are providing exceptional support to our learners with a diverse range of resources and materials to support their journey that can be accessed at any time or any device.
We’ve never been one to sit on our laurels; 2020 was no different! We have also upgraded our e-Portfolio system to the very latest version (OneFile Learning Hub) and our Management Information System. Both these system upgrades ensure that we are better able to meet the needs of our learners on a day to day basis, having greater visibility of learner progression and offering a more connected learner journey.
In 2020, we also became part of the Masterclass Group and now work alongside our sister company, Masterclass Training, on a number of projects and opportunities. The vision for the group is to create a network of independent, high quality training providers that continue to raise the bar globally for training and CPD. It’s fantastic to be part of a bigger family – pushing each other to deliver the very best to our employer partners and learners.
Our Learners and Employer Partners
Without our learners and employer partners working so relentlessly throughout the last year, Train Together would have found these conditions much more challenging. Truly, we have seen great courage, energy, and resilience in you all and so we wanted to say a massive THANK YOU! Thank you for putting your trust in us and working with us, embracing all changes and challenges with us, being courageous and empowering each other, continuing to be dedicated to your learning and your future, and inspiring us to continue doing what we love. Thank you! We’re really looking forward to continuing to support you and improve what we do over the year ahead!
From the whole team at Train Together,
Dr. Charles Dall’Omo
Chief Executive Officer