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Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Big budgets at stake

With big budgets at stake and a wide selection of educational bodies available, it is important to know the key attributes to look for when selecting a quality corporate learning provider which is able to deliver optimal results.

According to Bonnie Johansen, Academic Head at ICG Learning Solutions: “There are three essential values and services that cannot be overlooked. These are academic integrity, the ability to provide flexible whilst academically sound learning solutions through partnering with clients, as well as having the ability to unlock value for clients by understanding learning and development legislation. Learning programmes should fit into the formal skills development framework in line with the South African Qualification’s Act and Skills Development Act, while companies should receive good/best advice on how to maximise discretionary government grants and tax incentives.
To meet the above criteria and in response to stringent guidelines set by government to upgrade national skills, ICG Learning Solutions has recently become a stand alone unit within the Educor education group to exclusively service this growing need of the corporate market.
Speaking on academic integrity, Johansen points out that this entails the learning provider being accredited by Umalusi or an appropriate SETA ETQA, statutory organisations which monitors and improves the quality of general and further education and training in South Africa in accordance with the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, 2001.
“As academic head of ICG Learning Solutions, it is my responsibility to ensure our organisation adheres to all legislative requirements and to establish a Quality Management System which sets policies and procedures and monitors them according to a national and internationally-benchmarked regulatory framework.
“Once satisfied that a Learning provider is accredited, registered and has the appropriate QM system, clients should also then ensure that it only uses moderators, assessors and facilitators accredited in the certification process who have a qualification higher than the one you or your employees are undertaking,” she adds.
“Over and above accreditation, academic integrity also means all actions and deliverables are of the highest academic standards and this requires that the academic head of your Learning provider creates and implements an academically sound system.”
The South African Qualifications Authority, the quality assurance body through which qualifications must be submitted before they are registered, outlines that learning providers should satisfy the following core criteria as part of a checklist when evaluating a comprehensive quality management system:
A policy statement – The organisation’s aims, objectives and purposes need to be clearly spelt out.
Quality management systems – Identify processes and outline procedures that implement quality management in the organisation. Review mechanisms – Outline the ways in which the implementation of policies would be monitored.
Programme delivery – Outline how learning programmes would be developed, delivered and evaluated.
Staff policies – Outline policies and procedures for staff selection, appraisal and development.
Learner policies – Policies and procedures for the selection of learners are outlined, and learners are given guidance and support. Assessment policies – Outline policies and procedures for forms of assessments that are used and how they are managed. Management system and policies – Indicate the financial, administrative and physical structures and resources of the organisation, as well as procedures of accountability within the organisation.
If your learning provider has the above criteria ticked off you are assured of your learning & development meeting the highest quality standard from process to design to execution to certification.
“The second step once you have established the academic integrity of your learning provider is to evaluate if the organisation can partner with you to jointly create an academically sound yet flexible learning solution that meets your unique learning needs,” says Johansen.
“Every corporate sector, working environment and learner has specific needs and you need to carefully evaluate if your learning provider can offer you a learning solution that is tailor-made to your requirements. The learning solution must be relevant, cost effective and flexible enough, as adult learners often need to accommodate work and family responsibilities with studying.”
In this regard, ICG Learning Solutions offers a range of flexible learning services including: orientation and bridging programmes, achievement plans, top quality study material, facilitation provided by one dedicated facilitator per group of learners for the duration of a learnership, assessment comprising of, formative portfolio development and summative assessments, workplace mentor & coaching, ongoing reporting, administration and learner management, as well as appropriate exit programmes, certification and graduation.
“Our infrastructure and national presence is a substantial advantage, thanks to our backing from Educor and Naspers. The benefits of 100 years of distance learning expertise, coupled with an innovative and flexible approach ensures that we can facilitate national roll-outs,” points out Johansen.
Companies have also been given a wonderful opportunity by government to benefit from training through incentives that come in the form of grants which are channelled through the sectoral educational and training authorities (SETAs), as well as attractive tax incentives.
Johansen says that the last step is to ensure you select a learning provider that is informed about these incentives and can give you advice on how to optimise your learning & development budget. “This is important as in many cases these incentives can contribute to or match the cost of the learning programmes,” she concludes.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.4 1st May, 2007
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