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Published by the Learning and Teaching Unit
Summer 2003
ISSN 1477-1241
Learning and Teaching in Action logo

Vol 2 Issue 2: Flexible and Lifelong Learning

LTiA home page

Brian Murphy

Lifelong Learning: the agenda and the response
Rob Halsall

Flexible Learning within MMU: Working smarter not harder
Fred Lockwood

"What the ..@#~* PDP* < $*|>.. is going on ?"
Trevor Williamson

How adults really learn- or what we think we know about how they learn!
Jane Artess

'Transformative' Models for Learning, Teaching and Academic Professional Development - A 'Self-ish' Approach
Shaheena Abbas

Developing a Departmental Employability Strategy
Chrissie Gibson

The eUniversity
David Lambrick

Skills for Lifelong Learning: A Progress Report
Louise Willmot

Professional Modern Apprenticeships
Vic Leyden

Lifelong Learning Means You Too
Hannah Peace

Faculty Learning and Teaching Reports

Learning and Teaching News from the Library

| View this article as a .pdf file |

Hannah Peace
Development and Training Unit

Lifelong Learning Means You Too:
A Review of Staff Development Activity

The Development and Training Unit has responded to national initiatives and contributed to lifelong learning at MMU and in the local community. In this article, the staff of the University Development and Training Unit (DTU) describe their work from the perspective of lifelong learning. The work of the Unit consists of the University-wide Staff Development Programme together with bespoke work for other units and special initiatives. Through this work staff are presented with opportunities to enter, or re-enter, organised learning at various stages of their personal and working roles.

The Unit views the opportunities it provides, not only as a means of developing or enhancing the skills staff need to fulfil their roles but also as a means of empowering staff in that development. The work of the DTU often takes its context from policies and initiatives at the National level. In order to give staff the best opportunities, the DTU supplements the University’s own training budget with both government and HEFCE funding


Following the publication of the University Equal Opportunities Policy and Action Plan in September 2001, a Baseline Diversity Audit was commissioned from Pearn Kandola. Taken together, the policy and the survey identified scope for a number of staff development initiatives. Further, in May 2002, the Personnel Division submitted a Human Resources Strategy to HEFCE that commits the University to an objective of “Embedding a culture of development & training at all levels within the institution”.

The University has already begun to act upon these commitments through a number of initiatives, some examples of which are described below. The DTU challenges you to reflect on your lifelong learning profile through these initiatives. What areas are under-developed and may be in need of a revisit? Is there scope for planning to cope with a new direction? Perhaps you are already prepared to engage but are unsure of what the University can offer. As you read here about some of the projects and schemes, we hope you will be convinced that development and training at MMU can work for you.

European Computer Driving Licence

The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) initiative has been identified as one of the University’s leading staff development priorities for this coming year. The ECDL initiative is a collaboration between the Development and Training Unit, the Learning and Teaching Unit and Information Systems. Alongside this structured programme is a course for those with no experience of computers.

Some of the aims of ECDL are to:

  • promote and encourage computer literacy
  • increase the productivity of those using a computer
  • share best practice

At the end of the scheme the individual may receive an ECDL qualification. The first phase of a pilot was launched in April 2002. This phase was delivered exclusively online. In phase two a change in teaching strategy will support the enrolment of up to twenty-five participants each month.

Candidates partake in a half-day induction in the IT training suite to help them get started and are encouraged to attend a further half-day session per week for four weeks. This provides the opportunity for individuals to complete the training material for the first unit and to prepare for a test. There are seven tests in total to complete to qualify for the ‘driving licence’. These can be taken flexibly by arrangement including a facility to work remotely using a Cd-rom version. The seven modules covered are:

  1. Basic Concepts of Information Technology
  2. Using the Computer and Managing Files
  3. Word Processing
  4. Spreadsheets
  5. Database
  6. Presentation
  7. Information and Communication

Modern Apprenticeships and the Local Community

As the age profile of the University indicates that there are very few employees who are under the age of twenty-one, the University’s HR Strategy is committed to the development of a training scheme, linked to local schools, that encourages young people to work in the University and gain NVQs through modern apprenticeships. In September 2002 ten young people were recruited to modern apprenticeships at MMU, working in diverse aspects of MMU’s vast HE provision. Participants were offered a unique opportunity to combine paid work linked to NVQs. This proved to be a novel, challenging and successful endeavour with the majority of apprentices securing jobs within their targeted fields. Ten new apprentices are due continue on this successful trend this September.

NVQs for Customer Service Staff

The University is involved with the Greater Manchester Employer Training Pilot in collaboration with the Learning and Skills Council, the Chamber of Business Enterprises and Business Link. The scheme is Government-sponsored with funding provided in-full for the cost of training and in-part for the cost of releasing staff to complete the training. In return, employers must commit to facilitating their staff in the completion of their training.

To date sixty-six staff have taken the opportunity this year. They will be studying towards a variety of NVQs that include: housekeeping, cleaning, food and beverage service and customer service. This work involves collaboration with two additional training providers, Skills Solution and Heathcotes School of Excellence. It is anticipated that, once a number of staff have completed their qualification, they will train for an “A1 Assessor Award”, so that future training can take place in-house.

New Horizons

New Horizons is a staff development scheme, currently running as a pilot for Customer Service members of staff. It is designed to help progression in the work environment. This includes assistance to:

  • Identify jobs that might open a different career
  • Identify the skills and experience needed for a targeted role
  • Gain those skills and experience

It is designed, in particular, for those who may have skills which are under utilised, and attempts to provide relevant experience that will assist in securing permanent employment in a relevant field. The Unit is encouraged by the response rate so far and is looking forward to spending between six and twelve months with the staff involved to help them develop and progress their careers.


Springboard is a pilot career-development scheme currently available to staff in the Business School and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science. In particular, it prioritises in targeting special staff groupings such as women, black and minority ethnic staff, and staff with disabilities. The scheme aims to provide an opportunity for participants to consider their future career and development needs, giving them the skills and confidence to apply for that next job, whether inside or outside the University. A key focus is to enable such individuals to compete on equal terms with other candidates.

In this connection, the Unit has convened a Springboard Team that will be exploring development through:

  • Mentoring
  • Shadowing
  • CV development
  • Improving Interview Skills
  • Networking

Crucial to the Springboard terms of reference is the identification and removal of barriers to progress. The scheme may serve as a litmus test for the effectiveness of MMU in areas such as:

  • Internal promotions
  • Interview feedback
  • Coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Allocating work that will be useful to people in their future careers
  • Ensuring staff development activities and opportunities are relevant and available
  • Ensuring accessibility of ‘acting up’ opportunities are fairly accessible.

Adult-Learning Week and Learning-at-Work Day

The aim of these two events was to further promote the concept of adult learning.
The 12th May saw the inauguration of “Adult-Learning Week”. At MMU there were displays at five campuses. On 15th May, “Learning-at-Work Day” was celebrated in conjunction with a number of partners in learning provision. The Spanish taster courses were particularly popular.

The Future

In addition to these new initiatives, DTU publish a staff development programme at the start of each academic year. The programme outlines the courses on offer alongside those of the other central training providers, and the dates they are running. We offer a variety of courses including, time management, dealing with difficult customers, basic food hygiene, and first aid at work. We believe that the best way to help people develop is to provide them with support and challenge and all of our development activities reflect this ethos. In practice this means that we will provide a supportive learning environment in which individuals feel able to try new experiences and approaches and to take responsibility for their own development. We have identified courses that we feel are relevant to job roles, but it is possible for other interested staff to attend as well if they feel it is personally or professionally relevant. It is important that staff seek the support and approval of their line manager before applying for a course.

We are very positive about the future of staff development and training at MMU. Plans include looking to move on from these initiatives, and those currently in pilot phase, and to roll them out across the University with increased participation. The Equal Opportunities Policy has an action to accredit 50% of activities by the end of 2004. This will help individuals to work towards meaningful qualifications to include on their CV.

And Finally…

Do you think you would benefit from participating on one of these schemes? Perhaps you would like to continue learning, but you are not sure whether these programmes are for you. Why not look at our website and see what other courses we offer? Or, call Hannah Peace in Development & Training on extension 3301 to find out more.

Hannah Peace
telephone: 0161 247 3301


July 2003
ISSN 1477-1241

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