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Delivering high impact blended learning pathways

Discover how Camden Council’s strategic use of the Mind Tools Content Library has generated amazing feedback - from very different audiences.
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The Challenge

The London Borough of Camden Council is a hugely diverse organization, employing around 4,500 people across a vast array of roles. They are driven by strong values, including the mantra emblazoned on their office building: Not for the self but for all.

Camden’s Learning and Development team need to meet the diverse and evolving learning needs of all their people. Here are two examples:

1. Developing high performing managers

Camden Council recognizes that managers play a tough, yet critical, role across their organization. They face many challenges and deserve support with their professional development, but traditional management development programs are expensive and time consuming. As Jackie Kennedy, Learning and Development Lead with Camden Council explained:
“We wanted to help our managers learn in the flow of work, to work together and network. But they didn’t have any experience of social learning.”

2. Supporting young people on the Kickstart scheme

Kickstart was a UK government funded initiative that ran between 2020 and 2022. The aim was to encourage employers to create job placements for young people on Universal Credit. Camden Council applied for funding to run its own scheme and on behalf of a diverse range of around 30 external organizations.

Camden’s L&D team had traditionally oriented towards face-to-face learning. However, they recognized that many of these young people were joining the world of work in an online environment. Many of the Council’s training courses were also designed for specific groups. For example, their domestic violence awareness courses were geared towards frontline social workers.

To meet the needs of all learners on the Kickstart scheme, Camden Council needed to:

  • Deliver a full learning offer, including content accessible to all. For example, a more generalized introduction to domestic violence awareness
  • Support employee wellbeing in the transition to remote working and maintain strong L&D practices despite their historical reliance on face-to-face learning
  • Deliver blended, ‘just in time’ learning with the flexibility to support the emerging needs of new Kickstarters.
In addition to these immediate needs, the Council also wanted the option to build on and develop the content once they had greater insights into the newcomers’ individual learning needs.

The Solution

1. A blended Management Development Program

The Council designed a management development program with a special emphasis on the strategic use of the management and leadership resources in the Mind Tools Content Library.

Their journey started with understanding the learning outcomes they wanted. They then mapped resources to those specific outcomes. Shunning traditional teaching methods, they built a pathway that was more self-directed, interactive and social.

Cohorts of managers met for fixed sessions, six weeks apart. They were introduced to Mind Tools resources in areas such as managing team dynamics or having difficult conversations. Then they were empowered to go away and learn from the resources most relevant to their job role and challenges.

“They might choose to learn online or to listen to podcasts, but they get to explore the topic in their own way. They meet with their learning buddy [another manager on the program] to discuss and explore their learning. The cohort then comes together at the next group session to discuss what they’ve found most useful. The program runs for 18 months in total.”
Jackie Kennedy, Learning and Development Lead, Camden Council

2. On-demand, accessible learning for the Kickstarters

In the move to online learning, Camden Council recognized the risk of overloading learners, especially the Kickstarters, as the L&D team trialled various virtual methods.

They drew on the Mind Tools Content Library to create learning resource packs. These ensured that their Kickstarters had easy access to relevant and useful information as they began assimilating with the world of work.

These resource packs included:

  • Around 20 playlists on topics such as personalities, preferences, and professionalism in the workplace
  • Further materials covering interview skills, customer service, project management, and CV building.
“We worked with Mind Tools to develop the offer, because we wanted managers to be able to support Kickstarters by giving them access to the learning resources they needed now, rather than waiting for a course. This was especially true because the placements are only for six months. Managers needed to quickly understand the extent to which people were using resources, and the effect they were having.”
Tom Spencer, Lead for Learning and Development, Camden Council

The Results

1. For the blended management development program

Jackie describes the feedback as ‘amazing’. Managers have reported feeling less lonely, more connected, and empowered to learn in ways they actually enjoy. One standout result is that a number of cohorts have continued to meet up beyond the end of the program. As Jackie concludes:
“That makes me happy because that’s what we want them to be doing.”

2. For the Kickstart scheme

With the Mind Tools Content Library, Camden’s L&D team could adapt to the needs of new cohorts of Kickstarters as they entered the working world. They also gave the external organizations they work with on the Kickstart scheme access to their bespoke Mind Tools L&D resources.

The Council were delighted with how the Mind Tools learning content eased their learners’ transition to remote working, especially because it channelled people’s enthusiasm for Face to Face into the unfamiliar, but nonetheless stimulating, realm of virtual L&D.

Mind Tools has proved a key component in solidifying Camden Council’s approach to L&D. Together, we are paving the way for a unified, inclusive culture. One in which both new and experienced employees have their individual learning and development needs met by high-quality, easy-to-digest, accessible content on a daily basis.

"We carried out a survey which showed that over half our employees (53%) wanted to continue working remotely post-pandemic for at least 75% of the time. In thinking about the future of work, we needed to consider how to retain and build the connection with the place and communities we serve when our people are working from home. We needed to avoid creating a split workforce, with frontline employees in the office and back-office employees at home and to ensure that high quality learning opportunities are accessible to all."
Tom Spencer, Lead for Learning and Development, Camden Council