On Monday 11th March 1996, I took up the position of Training Officer for the Greater Shankill Early Years Project. Three busy weeks later, on Monday 1st April 1996 the first intake of seventeen project workers and three team leaders arrived.
As Training Officer, I had access to the training programmes prepared by the Manchester Metropolitan University, who were involved in drawing up a Programme Development Plan, within the Project's Business Plan. This provided a framework of issues that needed to be addressed during induction training and some rapid networking with local training providers highlighted other relevant areas.
The purpose of induction training is not only to raise awareness of expected work standards, but also to encourage and support new staff as they aim to become an effective part of the organisation. This is often a slightly daunting prospect for new employees.
We felt strongly that induction training must start with enabling the employees to identify existing skills and how they could transfer these to their new role.
The other great demand of induction training was to unlock the mystery of what the job of 'Project Worker' involved. Our organisation is based on an innovative concept, so it was not therefore possible to identify an exact job description with which we could draw comparisons, but with the support and contact of our partnership management and training providers from the community, statutory, voluntary and private sectors, we put together what proved to be a fairly effective induction package of six weeks part time.
Further training towards the future career development was decided on an individual level using the criteria of accredited training that fell within the ethos of the Project. This included ventures into childcare, education, community development, organisation of community groups, management studies, care in the community and other vocational areas. By September 1996, most of the first intake of staff were enrolled for external courses.
September also saw the start of our second intake of project workers, another thirteen members of staff who could now benefit from the support of their already established team. As with all training, our induction package was evaluated and re-structured to build in more time for vocational skills and also for a reflection period after each basic module. The second intake of project workers started their field work in the middle of November.
By January 1997 a weekly schedule of on-going training was embarked upon to raise awareness of specific relevant issues that had begun to surface as the project gathered momentum. Now as we head towards March and April 1997, we are preparing for our third intake of staff and anticipating results from accredited external training in June.
We have recently recuited our final tranche of Project Workers who are currently completing their induction training.