Help is available from LearningNet

I had an interview with someone from LearningNet today.

LearningNet is a workforce development project created by a group of voluntary sector organisations. It aims to identify and meet the learning needs of staff and volunteers working in the voluntary and community sector.

They’re an interesting organisation that I first heard of a little while ago. They’re working with us in Solent Youth Action to produce a learning needs analysis of the staff and directors.

For the staff, it is an opportunity for a thorough and independent review of their training needs which is not normally possible within an organisation as small as us.

Perhaps more importantly, for the trustees, it is an independent perspective on any gaps in our knowledge and skills. As volunteers from a variety of professions who came together to start this organisation essentially in our spare time, I think this is very valuable. When we started, we knew nothing of the laws or regulations we would encounter in starting a charity and company, being an employer, leading an organisation, or managing hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money. We’ve learnt a lot, but what don’t we know? What skills don’t we have that we don’t realise – skills that could potentially help us to do a better job? Or more worryingly, what don’t we know that could help us avoid a future pitfall we haven’t considered?

They’ve gone to our SYA office, and met with the staff both as a group, and individually in personal interviews. They attended an evening meeting with the trustees and led a discussion with us as a group. Now, they’re meeting with the trustees individually. They offered to meet with me either at SYA, at home, or at my office – either during the day or in the evening if that was easier for me. I chose to do it at work, and someone from LearningNet came to visit me at Hursley in the afternoon for a in-depth review of my skills and experiences, and what I bring to SYA.

Each member of staff and trustee will get a confidential personal report, and we get a collective report for the organisation. Where training needs are identified, they also help to identify training providers to help us address them.

Oh – and did I mention that they’re doing all of this for free?

If this is all sounding like a bit of an advertisement, sorry! But I’ve been really impressed with them so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing their reports. I think it will be a really useful start to the New Year for us, and even if nothing else, I found the chance to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, and my contribution to SYA very valuable. I came away from the interview with a bunch of ideas for what we can do, and aware of a few things about myself I hadn’t really thought of before.

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