2022 NATIONAL TRAINING AWARDS CATEGORIES, WINNERS AND FINALISTS
Learning & Development Organisation of the Year
Finalists: Irish Life, Office of Government Procurement (OGP)
Pearse Walsh Award, presented by Harvest
Winner: ICOS Skillnet & ICOS & Dairygold & Teagasc
Finalists: Intel Ireland, Primeline Group
Best Coaching or Mentoring Initiative
Finalists: Dublin City University, Glanbia Ireland, Irish Institute of Pharmacy (IIOP)
Best Talent Development Initiative
Winner: Green Tech Skillnet
Finalists: Zurich, AXA Insurance
Best Leadership Development Initiative
Winner: Irish Life
Finalists: Electricity Supply Board (ESB), Intel Ireland, Portwest, Primeline Group
Best Organisation Transformation Initiative
Winner: HSE Organisation Development & Change
Finalists: Bank of Ireland, Musgrave, Office of Government Procurement (OGP),
Best Diversity & Inclusion Participative Initiative
Finalists: Irish Life, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, TSK Academy Ltd, Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA)
Best Digital Learning Initiative
Winner: Tallaght University Hospital
Finalists: Irish Manufacturing Research, Ingenium Training and Consulting, Lámh, The Insurance Institute of Ireland
Best Graduate Development Initiative
Winner: Bank of Ireland
Finalists: Dublin City University, Musgrave, AIB, H&MV Engineering
Best Consultancy Partnership
Winner: Keelings and the Balbriggan-Swords Adult Education Service
Finalists: Glenveagh Properties PLC with Prism Leadership & Change Consulting Ltd, ICOS Skillnet & ICOS & Dairygold & Teagasc, Irish Institute of Pharmacy (IIOP) & The Irish Pharmacy Profession, Irish Life & Uppercut, Queen’s University and Thrive Coaching & Development, Teagasc and The Learning Rooms
Following two years of online award ceremonies, the IITD National Training Awards returned to its original format with an in-person award ceremony at the Killashee Hotel in April 2022.
This year saw a strong representation of Ireland's industry spanning several sectors, including retail, financial service, and public service, presenting submissions to a particularly high standard.
The judging panel noted that the quality of systemic thinking and practice was higher than in previous years, an essential element when considering people development initiatives within the context of organisational change and development.
Awards are presented in nine categories, and this year's big winner was Citco. The financial services provider won the award for Learning and Development Organisation of the Year. Sean White, Senior Executive Vice President of Learning & Development, says the accolade acknowledges the work done by Citco's team to ensure that learning is accessible and available to all employees and prides itself on its ‘Provide, Guide, and Drive’ approach to L&D.
"The company provides accessible content, then managers guide the individual employee who, in turn, drives their own development. We put content at people's fingertips and make it very accessible."
The company has a suite of programme for employees at all stages of their career, from new entrants to senior management. White said: "In our first level manager programme, we run manager success workshops which incorporate all the fundamental skills of being a first-time manager, from coaching and giving feedback to communication and planning."
White says that learning and development is a crucial aspect of the company's operation and says investing in L&D helps keep and promote employees within the company and makes it more attractive for recruits.
"We are promoting a learning culture within the organisation which enables our employees to achieve for today, grow for tomorrow and contribute to Citco’s success. People are looking for companies with opportunities to grow. Making a consistent investment and maintaining a focus on learning and development solutions gives us the ability to attract and retain talent in a very competitive landscape for talent right across the globe."
Sinéad Heneghan, IITD's CEO, said of this year's submissions: "This year, there was a clear focus on initiatives that delivered on organisational and professional needs, integrating best practices with high standards of professionalism. The quality of systemic thinking and practice was very high. This is essential when considering people development initiatives within the context of organisational change and development," says Heneghan.
"Similarly, it is inspiring to see such investment being maintained and even enhanced in a period of maximum disruption – with a focus on the 'what' and 'how' of people development clearly appreciated as integral to the ability of an organisation to manage its way through a period of unprecedented disruption and change."
Evidence from this year’s submissions demonstrate that organisations have expedited and enhanced their e-learning programmes in response to the pandemic, with some companies taking the opportunity to introduce digital content; whereas for others, it was a chance to expand their already existing offerings.
This year's entrants and winners all displayed their digital development, and, as we slowly return to a life without restrictions, it is becoming clear that learning on demand is here to stay.
Online and blended learning is becoming more embedded and normalised. L&D continues to evolve and must continue to do so to suit a post covid workplace, allowing staff and learners to attend training at a time of their convenience rather than synchronously in a classroom setting
Harvest, leading people development specialists, is the lead sponsor of the Awards. The relationship between Harvest and the awards is in its 16th year, and Nicola O'Neill, managing director of Harvest, agrees with the importance of maintaining and enhancing the hybrid approach to development.
"Our partnership works really well. The IITD offers up to date education, knowledge, and speakers, giving companies the chance to continue developing the network of L&D professionals and the skill levels to make sure that they remain professional. Harvest and the IITD are very strong on meaning and not just going in and doing work, but actually getting results and elevating the people we work with.
"Many people still are working from home, and we need to be mindful of that. When we look at virtual delivery, there is a strong appetite to keep some of that if it is designed and delivered well. To be effective, there needs to be interaction and focus on developing knowledge, skills, and mindsets. Virtual learning reduces travel time and increases productivity, but there is a migration back into the training room for certain competency developments. Team development and sales teams want to get back into the classroom, but expectations have changed; things need to be hybrid and flexible. We will see more in-person L&D, but it won't return to pre-pandemic levels."
It is more important than ever for learning and development to remain relevant to rapidly changing business landscapes. If it is to thrive, L&D needs to be agile and be able to deliver relevant content, while those that provide it must be able to keep pace with ever-evolving needs.
To ensure agility and relevance, adopting a design thinking approach allows for the delivery of targeted, accessible, and appropriate learning content. By following this approach, teams can refresh content with ease and readiness.
Support for L&D from senior leadership is key to any company's success, something which has become very evident in business in recent years. This year's successful organisations displayed a strong awareness of this aspect of leadership. They also demonstrated the importance of communications and engagement with their eco-system of internal and external stakeholders throughout their experiences to ensure learning initiatives deliver on their objectives and that learning opportunities are embedded in all elements of the organisation’s activities.
While there are many encouraging signs for the progression in L&D, Heneghan said there are still challenges. "The perennial challenge for L&D to collate, analyse, respond to and present accurate, relevant, and timely data on ROI, learning transfer, participation rates, etc., has not reduced despite the recent proliferation of Learning Management Systems. Empirical evidence and hard data are ever more essential as L&D plays an increasingly central role in delivering organisational strategy."
Harvest presents the Pearse Walsh Award, named after the company's late founder. This year's recipient was a joint initiative by ICOS Skillnet, ICOS, Dairygold and Teagasc for their innovative new sustainability training programme developed to guide farmers in implementing the Teagasc Signpost Programme, a multi-annual campaign to lead climate action by all.
"It is a programme to help farmers reduce gas emissions, improve water and biodiversity, helping them to create more profit sustaining farm enterprises. The thing that impressed us most was the actual partnership, how they all came together, and the practical delivery of how they engaged with farmers," says O'Neill.
O'Neill also says that awards, like the Pearse Walsh Award and the other category awards, elevate the work done by companies: "The work they are doing is recognised externally by an industry body and an expert judging panel. It elevates the importance of the work they are doing and the value they are adding."