A pioneering programme that combines problem solving techniques with basic skills training is helping to transform attitudes towards employee development at one of the country’s most famous car manufacturing plants. Developed by Jaguar Land Rover (Halewood) in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing (The Skills Academy) and training provider BUCAM, Essential Skills for Problem Solving is also helping to overcome a wider social problem – low levels of literacy and numeracy. Over many years, the company has taken its commitment to staff development seriously, recognising the benefits in terms of reducing costs, improving productivity and further enhancing product reliability. However, it became apparent that further improvements could be made if problems with employee engagement in the training process could be overcome. Phil Round, Education and Training Manager at the Jaguar Land Rover Plant in Liverpool, explained: “We looked hard at common faults along the production line and found that some issues were reoccurring. Although we had applied problem-solving techniques it was clear that we had not established root cause. “Numerous training initiatives were introduced aimed at providing employees with the skills to solve these problems but it became apparent there was an underlying problem that we hadn’t recognised.” Phil went on to say that many people in the wider community struggle with basic literacy and numeracy, a problem that is often forgotten. In the workplace, many training programmes assume that all participants have these functional skills. Although basic skills training was introduced at the plant, take-up was low as people were reluctant to admit they had a problem. Eventually it was decided to develop a new programme that combines traditional problem solving with basic skills training and the resulting Essential Skills for Problem Solving now leads to Skills for Life level 2 qualifications in literacy and numeracy. “Combining essential skills with problem solving has made the course a lot more interesting for those taking part and removed the stigma that is sometimes attached to attending a basic skills course,” Phil continued. Throughout the process Phil and Patrick McKinley of Liverpool-based Skills for Life training provider BUCAM have worked closely with David Young, North West Regional Engagement Manager for The Skills Academy. As well as providing a grant to help fund a pilot at the Halewood plant, The Skills Academy has also accredited the training course, which may soon be introduced nationally within the manufacturing sector. David Young commented: “To remain competitive, Jaguar Land Rover needs all its employees to be engaged in the process of problem solving and this new programme will give them the skills they need to read technical information and other data. As a result they will have the confidence to speak out in team meetings and to communicate their ideas on how to further improve performance. “This flexible approach is much more effective than imposing a ready-made training package and our ‘Learning Engine’ approach has helped us to develop a programme that the company can use to achieve clearly identified business objectives.” So far 56 employees have completed the five-day programme and between them they have earned 92 skills for life qualifications. Although it is still in its infancy Jaguar Land Rover is already seeing the benefits. Phil Round added: “The programme will help us to become more efficient as operators will have the skills and confidence to put forward solutions to production problems and, in the longer term, this will help us to further reduce the number of vehicles that need to undergo warranty repairs.” - E N D S -


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