This paper seeks to describe an innovative solution initiated by the authors to solve the problem of inefficient system operation, non-compliance with EU legislation, customer alienation and maintaining sustained service technician development. The UK NTO Transport Skills Foresight Report (2001) states, “There are significant gaps in the skills of the current workforce”, and continues, “The most common reason identified for these skill gaps is a failure to train and develop staff”. Manufacturers training schemes although highly focused and relevant are exclusive to staff within franchised networks (the average national profile of franchised dealerships is 30%) and normally rely on traditional didactic training processes.
The desire was to greatly increase the number of people undergoing professional development by providing flexible access to training while at work. This project seeks to meet that aim by delivering quality learning materials via the World Wide Web into the vehicle servicing workplace; such materials are supported by demand led mentoring and tuition. Technical training packages are contained within a Managed Learning Environment (MLE). Selected SME's were recruited from the transport repair sector and provided with the free use of quality IT hardware a dedicated phone line, unlimited access to materials and appropriate business information services. This package was made possible by European Social Fund (ESF) funding.
Such a solution results in training on demand, which is flexible and focussed to the immediate needs of the user and, to the benefit of both the employer and customer.
Where structured, training can result in the creation of an adaptable and highly skilled workforce, who will be compatible with the provision of ICT/ILT (Information Communications Technology/Information Learning Technology) operations. The major benefits anticipated of such an approach are that service repairs will be effective, diagnostics will be accurate and cost effective, and customer satisfaction and retention will be improved.