Q: How can I make sure that staff get the training they need when we have a very limited budget?
A: However committed you are to staff development, it can be difficult to find the money for it. This is particularly true when funders fail to fully cover the costs of projects with the result that we don't have proper professional development budgets. Even when we do, staff often say that they haven't got time to go on training courses. Yet good training and development is needed more than ever.
You need to convince your trustees and senior staff of the value of development, allow for it in your financial planning and build identification of development needs into your staff appraisal system. Individual training needs can then be synthesised into a development plan for the whole organisation and then someone, which could be the HR specialist if you have one or a senior colleague, needs to take responsibility for finding the most cost-effective ways of delivering those priorities.
It is important to see development in overall terms - general leadership and management programmes as well as more specific skills training. The sector has to take the leadership agenda seriously.
Winning hearts and minds and generating a buzz around development is the key to getting staff out of the "haven't got time for it" syndrome.
One practical suggestion to focus staff and trustee attention on development is to have your organisation take part in the national Learning at Work Day, this year held on 15 May.
This is the perfect opportunity to provide informal, inexpensive taster learning sessions in the workplace, to involve staff in passing their skills and expertise on to others, to arrange job swaps with outside organisations or to organise job shadowing to help your people learn more about what their colleagues do and how they work. Effective informal learning and skill sharing can be undertaken with minimal cost and disruption. One day's focus on learning might well lead to highly creative future developments for both the organisation and the individual.
The Campaign for Learning, which organises the day, provides a range of resources to support employers and employees in taking part. You can get free planning and publicity materials by calling 0117 966 7755 and more help, guidance, competitions and free e-learning resources are available online at www.learningatworkday.com.
Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO).
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