Training and education

By The Drum, Administrator

June 24, 2004 | 7 min read

Louise Scott of Tidalfire

Exams might strike fear into the hearts and souls of many, but in this day and age it they are an essential ingredient when getting ahead in business. Whether it is to get a professional qualification in the advertising or public relations arena or for the design community to bone up on the latest piece of new technology, education does not stop when you leave school or university. Instead, it is something that nearly everyone in the industry will come up against in their career.

But it needn’t strike fear into the hearts of those who still have exam nightmares, with most being made as painless as possible. Courses are now arranged with the eye firmly on the students’ benefit. So, what is on offer these days for the most ardent and studious individual? Quite a lot, it would appear.

For managing director Louise Scott at training company Tidalfire, the agency has noticed that more and more people are looking for training and advice as the systems that they are using become upgraded and bettered. Scott says: “When we formed in 2001 we were right in the middle of a recession and we probably couldn’t have started at a worse time. Since then we have managed to go from strength to strength and I think that is really because companies are becoming more aware of what a positive impact sending their staff on training courses can have for the whole company.”

Tidalfire trains agencies and clients in a variety of packages, including Adobe and Quark. For Scott the fact that jobs are currently changing means that Tidalfire can capitalise and offer training to suit that particular company’s needs: “A change in an organisation can mean that people are doing more and more and need to have training to counteract it. A training budget was normally the first thing to go during a recession, but these days that is not the case. What we offer our clients is the ability to really hone in on specific areas and we update them on how to use the latest programmes that are being released. In doing so, it means that the company is running far more efficiently.”

Managing director of multimedia training company Quix, Tom Madden, agrees with this sentiment. He too offers a range of training in Adobe, Quark and Apple Operating Systems: “The benefits of training are wide-ranging, of course, but I think the main benefit of training staff is an increase in productivity, and people actually learn how to use the system they have upgraded to properly. This can save time and money in the long run, and firms are beginning to wise up to this.

“For example, Glasgow City Council offers grants of 50 per cent to companies, which benefits everyone really. I normally come in to the company and show the whole firm how to upgrade its systems as a whole, resulting in an increase in productivity and also, I think, motivation within an organisation.”

Training courses are offered from a variety of organisations – in the PR industry, the industry body the IPR is well aware of the need for training and education and the benefits it can have on an individual. These courses focus on the motivational aspects and how to get the most out of the individual, which in turn benefits the PR industry. Chair of the IPR in Scotland, Julie McGarvey, comments that in the past year the IPR has really centred its attentions on what the industry needs and has tried to provide it. She comments: “Last year I think we did notice a bit of a fall away in the numbers of delegates coming to our seminars, but we really looked at why that was and came up with a calendar of events that has helped everyone, from the total PR novice up to managing director. We are also really focusing in on the Continuous Professional Development accreditation scheme, which is really working and people enjoy doing it. It gives members a boost and more confidence in their way of working. Last year I think that we did have an over-ambitious training programme but this year we have really streamlined it and begun to think about what we need to offer our members. We offer courses such as Creativity & PR, Evaluating PR and Creating a PR Strategy, which have all gone down well with members. The key objective is really enlightening our members on what we can offer them.”

Many colleges within Scotland offer professionals the chance to brush up on their skills. Fife College offers a range of marketing courses for the seasoned marketing professional. Beth Dickson, assistant principal at the college, comments: “We offer a wide range of services for professionals who want to gain more experience and insight into what their job requires of them. The college encourages more people within the marketing arena to really get the most out of their jobs. And it makes sense for them to do it too. We tend to run our classes to suit the students, so for a marketing professional the Saturday morning classes are very popular. What we can give them is an understanding and an added dimension to the work that they are already doing.

“We have clients from all sectors, from the private to the public sector. The benefits that a company can get from sending employees to our classes are huge. While it might be costly to send an employee on the course in the short term, in the long term the benefits are enormous. And I think that more and more agencies are becoming aware of that fact.”

Cambridge Marketing College opened its doors in Hamilton last year and offers a range of programmes from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Communications, Advertising and Marketing Foundation, the Market Research Society and the IPR. Charles Nixon, chairman of the college, comments: “Today’s marketing teams need to be 100 per cent accountable for their actions. With this in mind, marketing employees need to know what they are doing and what they are talking about. The best marketers will be the ones who can turn their hand to all areas of the marketing mix rather than being confined to their specialist experience area. Delegates of marketing qualifications gain experience and knowledge to cover the whole marketing arena, therefore opening up their minds to a plethora of opportunities.

“If an employee has undertaken a professional marketing qualification, it instils a great sense of confidence in the employer that the employee is committed enough to their career to pursue such a tough qualification.”

Garvey adds: “We encourage our members to take part in the seminars, as we believe that they will really benefit from it. Delegates from our seminars will normally come away feeling far more motivated and revitalised and be able to get down to the job at hand. And that is applicable from the managing director right down to the junior account executive. Training and educating members really is that important.”

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