Employment & Lifelong Learning

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A central tenet of Lifelong Learning is that traditional patterns of education, e. g. school » college » career, are no longer as dominant. Further and higher education is increasingly available through a greater variety of formats (e. g. part-time arrangements) and channels (e. g. through work). With the right amount of investigation, preparation and perseverance, a school leaver can find a career that will provide strong possibilities for promotion, and also the opportunity to acquire quality education and training while earning a good wage. In this section we take a look at two industries with a history of providing these opportunities to school leavers. Case Study 1 – BankingBanking is an industry that has a long tradition of accepting school leavers with no third level qualifications. There are many departments in your average bank, each providing opportunities for careers with unique skillsets. If you work hard, and grab every opportunity for training and education that comes your way, it is possible scale the dizzy heights of these financial powerhouses. “The proof is in the pudding”, according to Brian O’Hanlon in the HR Dept of Irish Life & Permanent, “some of our very senior people and best executives had initially never gone to college. ”“We actively welcome people who join straight from school, and we give them opportunity, we train them anyway we can, to help them grow within the business, ” says O’Hanlon. It’s not just in-house training however, that is provided to employees of Irish Life & Permanent; “we will allow employees to train in professional areas – we have a number of accountants who never went to college before joining, they came in with strong mathematical backgrounds from school and they’ve qualified as accountants while working here. Also, a lot of IT people who may never have gone to college and who have IT potential, get opportunities to become trainee developers and programmers. ”New entrant opportunities for school leavers in Bank of Ireland include branch assistant, customer service agent, and administrative positions in the various business units. In-house training comes in the form of Learning Zone, according to Bank of Ireland Recruitment Consultant Jenny Rafter: an “internal learning management system that provides employees with the opportunity to develop their skills to fully equip them to compete in a business environment. ”A Group Education Scheme is available to all employees of Bank of Ireland – it “provides support in the form of fee refunds and educational awards to employees who wish to continue their education by studying recognised (approved by HETAC) qualifications at certificate, diploma or degree level, and is intended to reward and encourage the extra effort and work undertaken by employees in studying for academic qualifications relevant to the financial services industry or to their current role. ”Promotional opportunities are available to employees across the Group according to Jenny, but will the trend for employing and investing in school leavers continue into the future?“There will always be opportunities for ambitious and motivated school leavers in Bank of Ireland. A high percentage of new entrants have completed further education and the trend has increasingly been for school leavers who join the Group to further their education while working with the assistance of the Education Scheme. ”Employee ProfileLiz Treacy is 24 years old and completed her Leaving Cert in 2000 in St Dominic’s College in Cabra. “When I left school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I fell into banking really”, she says. After working for the building society EBS for a year, she heard from a friend about a position in business banking in Bank of Ireland, and went to work in the head office on Lower Baggot Street. ”It was a bit daunting at first, just coming straight in from school with only a limited amount of experience…but when I started the role, training was provided on a wide range of subjects including conveyancing and stamp duty law. ”A manager told her about the possibility of studying part-time for a Certificate in Banking through the Institute of Bankers. Liz “wanted to achieve something” and she enrolled in the course that was funded for her by Bank of Ireland through its Group Education Scheme. On successfully completing the certificate, Liz never looked back; she went on to acquire the diploma before completing the Degree in Business Banking last year. Needless to say, completing a degree while working in a full-time role as a corporate official took an “awful lot of commitment”, Liz had eight assignments to fulfil over the course of the year. At all times however, she had the complete backing of her management, who have taken a “big interest in her career. ”Does Liz feel her career prospects improved with her educational achievements?“Absolutely, with my degree I was able to touch on subjects like law, economics, treasury, accountancy; so it gave me a taste of everything and showed me where I want to go. ”And plans for the future? Liz is content to continue working, and taking it easy for the moment on the educational front, she is enjoying the opportunity to just relax at home after work. She has certainly earned it!
Case Study 2 – RetailWe begin this section with the salutary tale of UK schoolboy sensation David Potts. David left school at 16 and joined Tesco, by the age of 23 he had risen to store manager, and now at 46, he is Retail Director and responsible for all 780 stores across the UK. Tesco Ireland has developed the annual School Leavers’ Programme in order to discover and train successive generations of retail prodigies. The Programme is a fast-track route for school leavers interested in a career in retail management. Over a five-month period trainees are taught all the skills required to become a section manager of a Tesco store. The Programme consists of a work experience training plan, time is spent with the various section managers, learning how to run effectively different areas of a store such as dried goods and fruit and vegetables. They acquire skills such as replenishment, merchandising, customer service, backdoor management and deliveries, the hard way, i. e. on the shop floor!Another in-store training plan that focuses on people skills – teamwork, influencing, coaching and feedback, reviews, etc. – is carried out under the guidance of a personnel manager. Once a month, the trainees are gathered from all over the country to spend a training day learning managerial skills such as customer focus, grievance and discipline, health and safety, leadership, etc.  Salaries for trainees in the School Leavers’ Programme are €23, 000, rising to the late 20s on successful completion of the Programme and progression to the position of section manager – the first level of management in a store. For Tesco however, the Programme is not just about maintaining a steady flow of skilled section managers, they are seeking to create the next generation of leadership for the company. “The aim is for people to progress from section manager, the Programme is the first step on the ladder. It’s about building our talent for the future”, says Karola Lenehan of the Personnel Dept, “the business is expanding at such a rate that each time we open new stores, we need a full new management team. ”Places on the School Leavers’ Programme are limited, but all other Tesco employees can enrol in the Options Programme – a less intensive Programme which ensures career progression if completed, albeit at a slower pace. Lidl are another retail chain that has an excellent Programme available to school leavers – the Retail Management Degree with Lidl. This 30-month course is operated in conjunction with Dublin Business School (DBS), and is divided equally between work-based learning and college-based tuition. Lidl pay for the Level 7 Degree, awarded by HETAC, and provide a salary and healthcare to the student employee. The staggered format of the course allows students to regularly apply the theoretical knowledge they glean in DBS to real-life situations in a Lidl store. Career opportunities within the Lidl chain of 85 stores for graduates of the Retail Management Degree are excellent. Employee ProfileTanya McGarry completed the School Leavers’ Programme in its introductory year of 2004 – having undergone the Leaving Cert in Holy Child Community School, Sallynoggin, Co Dublin. She had been working part-time in Tesco during school and “intended to go full-time for a year, after leaving school, and then go to college – but that never happened! I had heard about the School Leavers’ Programme off my store manager, and it was the first year it was happening, so they asked me would I go for it?”The Programme was “very intense, really hard; you had to put a lot into it, but, as much as I put into it – the more I got back from the managers I worked with. I was trained in the high performance areas in all the different departments – checkout management, non-food management, etc. ”Tanya had to apply all the technical and behavioural skills she learned on weekly development days to real-life situations on the shop floor, and document her experiences for evidence when her four-month Programme was completed. Once signed off, Tanya was sent to Tesco in Dundrum, Co Dublin, for a three-month work placement to see if the Programme had been successful and she was able for management. The powers that be were obviously impressed, as since then she has inhabited the role of non-food manager in the Bray branch for 3½ years, and for the past four months Tanya has been working as a project manager in the Tallaght store. She is working on a ‘Space Relay’ project; a new system of stock replenishment and shop floor layout designed to increases sales and product availability to customers. The project has been a success and is to be rolled out to Tesco outlets across Ireland over the next five to six weeks. “It will be a really big achievement to say ‘I was in the store where it launched’. My name is going to be known now by management across Ireland. ” Undoubtedly, bigger things await Tanya. But how does Tanya feel about missing out on a college education?“I know people say ‘it’s only Tesco’, but I’m on phenomenal money for my age, I have my own house and car. It’s because of the fast-tracking really; if I had gone to college it would have taken three or four years to learn what I know. I was getting paid to learn; obviously when you’re in college you don’t get that. ”And so goes the story of Tanya McGarry, Ireland’s very own answer to the legendary David Potts.


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Case Study 1
Case Study 1


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