Surrey Police's Information Services Department is using an e-learning platform to underpin its IT training strategy and prepare its staff for the roll out of Windows 2000.
The police force hopes the strategy will make it a more attractive employer and improve staff recruitment and retention levels while helping it to use its training budget more effectively.
The first phase of the roll out will provide end-users with access to a library of IT skills-based and project management courses. Over the coming year the police force will also use the platform to encourage staff to learn more "soft skills" such as people management.
The MySmartforce training platform was provided by e-learning firm SmartForce. Explaining the choice, Clare Davies, Surrey Police IS training and development manager, says the product was chosen because it offers a full solution, spanning content, services and infrastructure. Because it is fully hosted, the amount of internal administration and support required is minimal.
The training platform also incorporates a degree of flexibility, allowing the department to provide its staff with a variety of training methods and learning tools such as mentoring, seminars and chat rooms.
As well as the online option, learners can access training courses offline through Smartforce Mobile, which enables modules to be downloaded and used when no Web access is available. This increases flexibility as training courses can be used both on and off site.
Surrey Police staff can track their own progress on the various courses. Their training status is automatically updated so that when the user logs back on they take up where they left off instead of having to hunt around for the correct spot.
Line managers are provided with monthly usage reports so they can keep track of users' progress and identify any staff members who are experiencing problems with the material, thus helping to optimise the use of their time and apportion help where it is most needed.
Davies says the e-learning system will enable the department to use its training budget in "a far more effective and focused manner". It will also be able to offer training on a more widespread basis instead of having to restrict it to key personnel and trouble spots.
The kind of training on offer can also be extended. As well as offering more refresher training, it can be more supportive of staff who want to take professional qualifications, says Davies.
The police force hopes to achieve a significant return on its investment in the first year. If everything goes according to plan, it will consider rolling MySmartforce out across other departments.