Creative people

Case Study – Benefits of Apprenticeships

Kath Harrison

Training and Quality Specialist

DHL Deutsche Post – Warrington

Kath is a Workplace Learning Advocate (WLA) and a Lead WLA who supports staff working for DHL Deutsche Post Warrington.   Kath is one of 3 WLAs on site at Warrington.  Alma Finn and Sarah Campbell work alongside Kath to encourage approximately 50 staff to engage with learning.

Kath tells her WLA story …

“The benefit of completing a WLA training course is the opportunity to understand the wide range of flexible learning opportunities that are out there and to make lots of contacts with forward thinking people.”

The major challenge for me was to find flexible learning opportunities to fit in with staff operational work patterns, my role as a WLA has to balance with my own work commitments, which of course have to take priority.  I have to my surprise realised that my WLA role can be as flexible as is needed.  Sometimes I am able to participate in quite big learning projects and sometimes my role is as simple as passing on information from the WLA E-Shot.

During and following the WLA training course I was able to establish some key contacts, in particular – Specialist Training, a local training provider who offered fully funded apprenticeships and NVQ training.  I very quickly realised that this was the perfect flexible learning opportunity for us.  Delia Casey from Specialist Training (who is also a WLA) ensured that a lot of the assessment could be performed by observation and made sure that any workshops have been organised with minimal interruption to the operation.

Having decided to work with Delia to get this project going, I commenced with my quest
to sell the benefits to the management team and get them on board before engaging with staff.  Initially I sent an email to gauge interest.  I did this by providing staff with an e-mail voting option to register their interest in the schemes.  I had to learn how to do this first … A WLA is always learning!   I then held a drop-in event so colleagues could meet Delia from Specialist Training and ask questions about what was involved.

As a result we now have 18 people taking part in apprenticeships or NVQs in Business Administration, IT and Customer Care.  It is great to see that these courses include Maths and English elements.  We had previously borrowed some handheld assessment tools from Unionlearn and identified that it would be useful for some staff to further develop these skills so this has fitted really well.

Overall this apprenticeship and NVQ training has been brilliant.  A spin off of having staff doing this training is that it has generated interest with others e.g. learners have been sharing activities and skills developed with their colleagues and this has all helped to get a learning buzz going in the company.”

Delia (WLA and Lead WLA from Specialist Training) comments on the impact that the training has had and how new skills are being applied in the workplace.

“Working with Kath has been most enjoyable and it is evident that learning is an important element within DHL and Kath certainly instils this in everyone.  The programme commenced with completing Maths, English & ICT with Maths being the one most people were concerned about.  This was quickly overcome when Linda Boyham (WLA Specialist Training) developed workshops to enable everyone to build on their existing skills around certain topics ranging from basic arithmetic to calculating areas, volumes and fractions.  We received great feedback from the Maths sessions as many felt that they would never be able to complete the test.  This was not the case and in fact we have had a 100% success rate in all tests including Maths, English, ICT and Technical Certificates in the subject of Business Administration & Customer Care.

Everyone has been fully committed to the programme and put a lot of time and effort in to completing tasks set for them.  Staff have taken on new skills in MS Office with more sessions to follow in the new year and these new skills will give them back the value of time by utilising lots of short cuts and becoming more productive in the use of IT.

The impact this will have on the business is that their staff have now achieved a Level 3 qualification, what a great recommendation for any business to have supported so many of their staff to that level.”

Kath continues her story …

“The culture is changing in the workplace.  There is now an expectation that learning is an option.  This is not just down to the apprenticeships and NVQs.  All 3 WLAs are using lots of different methods to get learning embedded.  We use emails to send information on learning opportunities, share information at management meetings and link with Adult Learners Week.

Due to my own personal learning and experience with Learning Advocacy, I now have the confidence to know who to talk to about learning and am able to negotiate with training providers on behalf of colleagues.

WLAs is a way of life.  It is embedded into my work life and I also find myself sharing my knowledge at home.  I would definitely encourage people from other companies to get involved!