MCA Management Awards 2007: Human Resources

Winner: PA Consulting Group with Jobcentre Plus

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Jobcentre Plus is the largest of several businesses within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Besides helping individuals find work and employers fill vacancies, it administers benefits totalling about £100bn annually across the UK. Employing more than 80,000 staff, it relied on a 'sheep-dip' approach to training - new benefit admin staff attended up to 13 weeks of classroom-based sessions, regardless of role or experience.

The organisation was trying to cut training costs for recruits with a new programme of tailored learning modules that blended classroom learning with state-of-the-art e-learning. But it was struggling, and drafted in PA Consulting to help. PA proposed going a step further: equip Jobcentre Plus with the processes and tools to make it self-sufficient in e-learning. High-risk, to say the least.

Jobcentre Plus already had 20 hours of e-learning material produced in hard code by an external contractor. Such materials had to meet tough DWP standards as regards their 'look and feel' as well as technical compliance - including 'accessibility' for visually impaired learners.

To speed up the public procurement process, PA bought an e-learning development package, Learning Content Management System, and customised it to reproduce the exact functionality of the existing material. The PA team built a further 20 hours' worth, re-using technology and templates where possible, eventually creating more than 50 re-usable screen templates.

PA trained Jobcentre Plus' learning designers to finish building the remaining e-learning modules, and more than 350 hours of new material were developed in just 10 months. These specialists now design and maintain their own material.

Work on the largest e-learning programme ever undertaken in UK government was completed to deadline. Overall savings from the project amount to a return on investment of more than 500%, equal to annual net savings of more than £12m. Some 600 classroom trainers have been released, and 90,000 fewer days are spent in training each year. Says Vince McAllister, the senior sponsor from Jobcentre Plus: 'PA's solution - putting us in a position to create and maintain our own materials - is a major bonus and a huge step forward.'

SHORTLISTED
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TAKE-HOME TIPS

PA brought the equivalent of £12m in net annual savings to Jobcentre Plus by developing and deploying specialist skills within the organisation to the point where the organisation could create and update modular training materials in-house for its 80,000 staff.

- Overcome scepticism through collaboration and communication - show doubters that all others are committed to the approach.

- Encourage acceptance by developing material that is standard and easy to use.

- Make imaginative use of existing technology.

- Build strong relationships through continuity of key personnel.

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