A SUNDERLAND energy firm is giving staff the opportunity to learn while they earn with its latest in-house initiative.
Employees at EDF Energy’s customer services centre are now able to study towards national qualifications without leaving the company’s Doxford International offices.
The courses available range from numeracy and foreign languages and have been introduced to give staff the chance to develop their skills and interests.
All of the programmes are run in the workplace and staff complete their studies at the beginning or end of their working day, whichever fits in best with their other commitments.
Kevin Gatens, EDF Energy’s head of customer contact centre in the North East, said helping employees to make the most of their skills and abilities was an important part of the company’s commitment to its staff:
“We are committed to providing our employees with personal development and training opportunities,” he said.
“Now employees have access to a growing range of courses that can be completed in the workplace.”
Staff on the first two pilot courses have just completed their qualifications and have been presented with their certificates in Spanish and numeracy.
Customer service advisor Stephen Hale was among the first group of trainees receiving their certificates.
Going back to the classroom had given him a chance to refresh some old skills as well pick up some new ones, he said:
“It’s been great to be able to pick up on my mathematics again because it’s something I’ve always wanted to revisit since leaving school.
“As the course was delivered at work, it was really easy to keep up the studying because I didn’t have to go out of my way to get to training.
“It was also a great opportunity to meet new colleagues who I wouldn’t normally have worked with.”
EDF Energy is supported by Union Learn, the TUC’s training and education facilitator for workplace learning, and courses at the callcentre are delivered through City of Sunderland College.
So far 12 learners have completed Level 1 and 2 Numeracy, which is equivalent to GCSE level, while 19 staff have embakred on learning a new language by completing a beginners’ Spanish course.
Stephen Mead is Unison’s learning organiser who is responisble for the EDF project.
Unions were keen to hear from other businesses that wanted to help staff’s personal development.
“We are always looking to support businesses that are looking to invest in their employees and create engaging education programmes,” he said.
“EDF Energy is clearly committed to seeking out exciting opportunities for staff and very ambitious about where they can take the workplace learning initiative.”