…….then, you’ll always get what you always got”. That was the favourite mantra of a consultant called Bernard Wright with whom I used to run leadership courses in the 1990’s. Our aim was to try to get leaders to understand that the only way they could bring about effective change within their organisations , was to first of all look inwards and change their own behaviour.
It’s an expression I have often used since then, particularly when people are resisting change and respond to any proposed new initiative with those dreaded words “But we’ve always done it this way”. It’s something I also think we all need to bear in mind when developing new programmes to upskill young adults (I hate the negative term “NEETs” so instead I am going to talk about GREETs (Getting ready for employment, education or training).
Many GREETs sadly have a very negative view about learning. Rightly or wrongly, they feel that the education system has failed them and they have lost the confidence in their own ability which is always an important first step on the learning path. So if we simply put these young people back into exactly the same environment as they experienced at school and “teach” them in the same way, we should hardly be surprised if we get exactly the same response and same result as occurred before – ie., non-engagement and failure.
Over the last few years, we have adopted a very different approach to skill development with the expectation that we will get a different outcome and have not been surprised by the very positive results we have obtained. We have shunned the traditional classroom in favour of technology – using eLearning to provide underpinning knowledge and a team of mentors and coaches who can provide 1:1 support. This team of “Learning Support Partners” can match the level and type of support to the individual learner rather than simply trying to provide a “one size fits all” solution for a class of students. What we find most satisfying is that we don’t just simply get great results – learners genuinely respond to this different approach and are far more motivated to succeed.
I am not for one minute suggesting that this is the only way to motivate GREETs, nor do I believe we get it absolutely right every time – we are always looking to improve and further enhance our approach and our methods. However, I am sure that by refusing to accept the norm and by looking to approach the issue of skill development in a different way, then we are not going to get what we always got. Bernard, I am sure, would have been proud of us!
Roger Francis is a Director with Creative Learning Partners Ltd, a new vocational training company formed by the senior managers and staff of MindLeaders Learning Services following the acquisition of the company by Skillsoft in 2012 and focusing on the delivery of Functional Skills