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IT training is critical to business, says head of learning at Reuters

Justin Richards

In an interview for IT Training magazine, produced by the BCS, Charles Jennings, global head of learning at Reuters, responsible for training 17,000 employees, talked about his approach to IT training.

"I am responsible for the approach we take for learning across the company: setting the strategy, developing the infrastructure, developing my own skills, and working with business managers."

Jennings said that IT training was critical to Reuters fulfilling its business objectives. "A lot of it is around Reuters' own technologies as well as generic skills in IT, such as supplier qualifications and certification.

"As it stands, 95% of our income comes from providing data and technology to the world's financial services industry. We have about 3,000 software developers. When you include networking and support staff, our technologists total around 5,000."

Jennings said that Reuters is exploring the possibilities in Web 2.0.

"We are very interested and active in Web 2.0. For example, Reuters has a virtual news agency in Second Life, with a journalist who reports in Second Life full time, and the company tracks the currency.

"Virtual environments have huge potential for things such as simulations for high quality engagement, and they cost much less to set up than flying people in to take part in simulations. I think web 2.0 technologies will become vital. We are doing some pod-casting for training and just starting blogs and wikis."

To be effective in his role he employs a range of, primarily, business skills, said Jennings.

"You need to develop business skills and learn to communicate with senior business people at peer level. Most senior business people do not see the connection between some of the aspects of training and, for example, improved sales, unless it is presented in their language.

"Training is often just seen as a service. You need to ask business managers if they have thought about getting the best value for money from training.

"Secondly, be open to new approaches, but be logical and base actions on evidence rather than whim. Learning and development heads often get buried in training and do not look outwards at what is going on in the business, and beyond.

"We are lucky as our CEO is very forward-thinking and interested in new technologies. He has an avatar in Second Life and is very enthusiastic about new approaches."





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