Training helps Blackpool Transport move with the times

Published on 09/01/2020 by DTHACK

We take a look at the success enjoyed by one of the region's biggest employers as the team gets set for sustainable success through training and development supported by B&FC.

Life moves quickly at Blackpool Transport.

Adapting to the changing needs of customers and embracing new technologies requires a galvanised workforce.
And that's exactly the objective of a long-term learning and training strategy empowering every one of Blackpool Transport's 600-strong team with upskilling opportunities to address whatever the future holds.

At the heart of that workforce development plan are apprenticeships, and an innovative approach developed in partnership with B&FC to introduce an in-house learning community.

Following her appointment as Blackpool Transport’s managing director in 2014, Jane Cole unveiled a long-term strategy to galvanise the organisation’s future through training and development.

To deliver on the promise, Jane brought on board a policy and strategy expert from Blackpool Council. Sally Shaw, as Blackpool Transport’s Director of People and Stakeholders, was tasked with rebooting the company's people development, customer experience, human resources, communications and marketing.

Sally said: "A couple of years ago there hadn't really been any significant investment in learning.

"We didn't know whether there would be a thirst for training among our staff."

Internal discussions highlighted the Apprenticeship Levy as a crucial funding instrument, and Blackpool Transport called in B&FC early in 2019 to identify how it could best be invested.

Later that year Blackpool Transport and B&FC hosted an open day for apprenticeship opportunities and the soft launch of its training school - which would later become a virtual community of colleagues bonded through learning and a thirst to share experiences to build a stronger organisation.

Sally explained: "It was a gamble, a risk. We didn't know what the appetite would be for doing something so different. We did know that we needed to help our workforce upskill for the future, and that investing in existing staff was of utmost importance.

But the response was overwhelming. 43 people of all ages and departments are now signed up to leadership and management apprenticeships delivered one day a week at B&FC and supported by the college's dedicated apprenticeships team.

A requirement of the apprenticeships was that learners would spend 20% of their time in different teams. This has not only helped bring people closer together but also spread Blackpool Transport's culture and values to all corners of the organisation.

"Succession planning was previously not a huge part of the organisation. Learning and workforce development has brought new life to Blackpool Transport, reawakening a spirit of creativity in colleagues and surfacing a new army of ambassadors for the company's culture and values."

The company is currently conducting a company-wide skills audit to identify further opportunities for upskilling.

Blackpool Transport's apprenticeship strategy also includes recruiting young people to bring in fresh thinking and develop as future leaders.

Sally's advice for organisations considering apprenticeships? Take the risk and find an experienced training provider.

"There's no doubt Blackpool Transport wouldn't have been able to embrace the apprenticeship opportunities without the support and partnership of B&FC," said Sally.

"We've discovered the tremendous benefits of investing in upskilling our existing workforce.

"The Apprenticeship Levy was daunting at first sight - and the college's expertise was hugely beneficial in unpacking that. So I'd say working closely with your local college is key.

"And above all, be brave. Explore the opportunities in learning and development, and don’t be afraid to try things out. Every organisation needs to shift with the times, which is why learning and development has been so critical to us at Blackpool Transport."

Photo shows the launch team including B&FC colleagues at the unveiling of the Blackpool Transport Training School.