5 Tips to Effectively Address Foundation Skills in Corporate Training

22 January 2019 by Ryan Cooper

Corporate training faces a constant challenge to keep up with the rapid pace of a changing business landscape.  Pressure too comes from the increasing demands of employees wanting to develop their skills, so they can keep abreast of change and take advantage of new opportunities and new career paths.

Foundation Skills is the name given to a core set of training resources that cover the fundamentals of business literacy and provide a broad base for development and learning.  They include areas such as managing your own time and learning to manage other people and team working. There is topic-specific training available in areas like Finance, Health and Safety, Project Management and Change Management.  As the names of the topics suggest these are key skills that would benefit any employee from newbies to new managers.

But addressing these skills requires more than just directing people to the next training session or asking them to view an eLearning module.  As we know, training that is unsupported and not aligned with business goals and employee needs is likely to fail to have the desired impact. So, how do you address the needs for these Foundation Skills and ensure that they’re effective and produce the right results?

1. Identifying the needs and the gaps

If corporate training has a bad rap, it’s because it’s regarded as uninspiring and unnecessary and a distraction from the real task at hand: work.  We’ll return to this dichotomy between training and work a little later. But first let’s look at why training is regarded as a chore and seen as ineffective.

People tend to regard training as ineffective when they don’t see the relevance.  This can apply as much to an organisation as its employees. No-one wants to learn what they already know or feel they don’t need.  Therefore, the first step to addressing Foundation Skills is to do a needs gap analysis to discover who knows what and who doesn’t and where training is needed.  This may be easier at the onboarding stage, but we shouldn’t assume that more experienced employees don’t need assistance.

Polling employees is a good start.  The more you engage with them the more likely they will engage with you.  Also evaluate what you already have. Before starting any training perform a pre-assessment so that you know what your target learners know.  This prevents wasting time training for what is already there and can reveal particular gaps that can be addressed in a more targeted way. If your organisation uses an LMS, you can also conduct an analysis of what’s been used and viewed and what hasn’t and how often.  If people are voting with their feet, you need to know what they’ve voted against.

2. Motivating learners with CPD

Even if the gaps are obvious, you can’t assume a willingness or commitment to fill them.  You can provide courses or resources to bridge the gaps and meet the needs your analysis has uncovered, but that’s no guarantee that uptake will increase.  You need to engage and motivate your employees to learn. Effective learning requires the effort of the learner too. If he or she engages, the training is more likely to make an impression and more likely to be applied.  

Linking Foundation Skills training with CPD schemes and industry bodies allows employees to be recognised for their effort and also emphasises the need to maintain and improve skills levels continuously.  That helps maintain standards for businesses and industries, but it also provides recognition for employees.

The motivation of CPD for employees is the formal, shared recognition of their attainment and skills. And it’s directly linked to career advancement within the current organisation and beyond. It works for employers too as they’re more likely to retain a motivated workforce that proactively enhances its skills set.

3. Use e-learning

The range of skills required to have a solid foundation in business keeps growing.  It’s hard for any one organisation to keep pace. But there are suites of Foundation Skills e-learning modules available that can help businesses cover all the bases.  These suites add new modules regularly as the demand for upskilling grows.  They identify and cover new topic areas as they arise, whether it’s new legislation or new workplace policy areas.

E-learning modules are designed by learning specialists and created with the assistance of Subject Matter Experts who know their subject inside out.  So, as a learner, you not only receive diverse training material, but you can be assured its content is in line with industry best practice.

The modules are designed to grab and retain learners’ attention.  They incorporate social media-like collaborative activities, gamification, simulation, assessment, and accreditation. It’s a multimedia approach that makes learning more attractive and is what modern learners exposed to online resources and social media expect.  Videos and animations make learning more visually engaging and memorable and improve retention of information. Many e-learning modules can be customised to make training more personally relevant. Modules can be tied to CPD and industry certification.

4. Enable Accessibility and Flexibility

E-learning offers improved accessibility and flexibility.  Its digital format and built-in adaptability allow access across a range of devices.  It facilitates learning on the go, just in time, through mobile connectivity, meaning learners can access and use the training on their tablets and mobile phones.  This liberates people from the typical classroom or desktop setting and allows them to access training where and when they choose. That element of control is vital in allowing learners to take ownership of their learning giving them greater involvement in their own training path.

E-learning can be delivered in a flexible way, too, that allows learners greater control.  It can be parcelled into chunks, repurposed and reused. With this microlearning approach, employees access small nuggets of training or support resources.  This makes learning more personal to them (and personalised for them) and allows training to be more directly targeted to meet specific needs in a time-sensitive way.

Just-in-time access brings learning directly into the working environment. It replicates the way people are used to accessing information every day, using mobile devices to get direct access to a world of information and discover and use what they need when they need it.

5. Make learning continuous

Foundation Skills may concentrate on the basics, but that doesn’t mean they can be completed and then forgotten.  The impetus behind CPD is that learning is a continuous process that can be supported by developing a learning culture.  Foundation Skills can be the basis for this culture promoting continuous learning not just one-off events or specially designed courses to plug a hole.

Let’s consider again that dichotomy between training and working.  It’s essentially a false one. Training becomes most effective when it’s embedded in the workflow, when it becomes part of working.  Training needs to be complementary rather than just supplementary, providing the support to do the job.  As a support training is more effective when it’s available while you’re doing the job.

Foundation Skills are all about having the right tools.  It’s only appropriate that they should also be in the right place.  With digital training resources available wherever you are and whenever you need you have a great enabler for continuous learning.

Foundation Skills: a solid basis

Foundation Skills provide the cornerstone of general business literacy.  Providing foundation skills training is an investment in an organisation’s greatest asset: its people.  Making sure there’s a broad base of skills shared across the organisation means you have the fundamentals in place on which to build, develop and retain your talent.

Investing in Foundation Skills Catalogues is an insurance policy for the future well-being and performance of the business.  These tips help you make the most effective use of foundation skills and address the core training needs of employees across the organisation.  Once you have that solid skills base in place and share the training resources, your organisation and your people are in the right place to meet the challenges ahead.

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Ryan Cooper
Head of Learning Libraries

Ryan is responsible for looking after Learning Pool’s learning libraries. He’s always looking for ways to innovate our learning offer by accelerating trends and finding solutions to the needs of every sector Learning Pool works with.

His aim is to build great relationships that enable growth in learning libraries, explore new and existing markets and develop stronger relationships with our customers.

Ryan has a pedigree of Product Management across HR technologies and learning specifically.

Outside of the office, Ryan has a wide range of interests from sports to science! Most often, you’ll find him on long walks through the Dales.

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