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Encouraging volunteers to continue on their learning journey

Five tips for line managers when having a conversation about overdue training

At Scouts, we want to encourage a culture of ongoing learning, where both our young people and our volunteers have the opportunity to grow and develop skills for life. Aiming to achieve this goal, and to provide our volunteers with the skills and knowledge to keep everyone safe, we offer them learning opportunities to our volunteers through our training scheme.

Following-up on the volunteers’ learning progress through their volunteering journey is one of the line managers responsibilities. That happens through checking if the volunteer is confident when performing their tasks, and also by making sure they complete the training modules in our training scheme.

Here you find support for line managers when talking about uncompleted training with their team of volunteers, with some tips on what to consider when preparing for the conversation.

Having a conversation about overdue training

1. Choose the right moment and approach for the conversation

Thinking of how the volunteer would best respond to the conversation is the starting point when planning for it. As their manager, you might already know if they prefer to have a chat before or after the next Scout meeting, or a video/phone call at another time, but there is no harm in asking them for their preference.

As you know, the time and place you choose, and the approach and tone of voice you use will influence on how the volunteer receives and responds to the conversation. Creating an environment of understanding, where both you and the volunteer feel comfortable, is really important.

 

2. Check if they understand why learning and training are important

You can take this opportunity to explain why we take learning and training seriously at Scouts, and remind them of its benefits, both for the volunteers themselves and the people they work with.

As a general rule, people are more likely to do something when they truly understand its purpose and they see value on it. We know that completing a training module might not be as fun as running a Scout activity, but we have a collective responsibility to make sure we are all equipped with the right skills to keep everyone safe.

  • Keeps people safe

  • Provides a shared understanding of best practices

  • Communicates our values, standards, policies and expectations

  • Improves the quality of the programme we deliver

  • Gives volunteers opportunities to develop existing and new skills

  • Empowers the volunteers to perform their tasks and responsibilities

  • Helps to accomplish our duty to look after the young people in our care

  • Improves knowledge

  • Provides new skills

  • Develops existing skills further

  • Prepares for responsibilities

  • Improves self-confidence

  • Shows we care about our young people

  • Recognises competencies and knowledge

  • Celebrates achievements

 

  

3. Ask what is stopping them from completing their training

Each volunteer might have a different reason why they haven’t completed their training. It’s important to allow them to share their reasons with you, and not presume them. This is particularly important as an individual could have additional support or learning needs that you are unaware of.

They might be really busy at work, going through a difficult moment in their personal lives, or just not understand which training they are expected to do. Some volunteers might be worried about not having the right skills or equipment to complete the training, or they might have had negative training experiences in the past.

 

4. Explore what support they need to complete their training

Once you have an understanding of what is stopping the volunteer from completing their training, you can start exploring what you, your wider team and anyone else can do to best support them.

You can also take this opportunity to check if they understand the learning journey they are expected follow.

Below you find some suggested actions you can propose to help volunteers complete their training.

While we don’t want the experience of our young people to be affected by our training commitments, offering the volunteer the option to use the time they already dedicate to Scouts to complete their training might be a last resource when other alternatives have failed.

  • Use the time of the Scout meeting to complete the training. You can support them by finding a leader to cover the volunteer’s absence that week.
  • For e-learning modules, you can suggest they bring a laptop or tablet to the Scout meeting, and sit aside while another leader is running an activity.

  • If there is a group of leaders from the same session who need to complete training, you can suggest they cancel one Scout meeting and use the time of the Scout meeting to complete the training at home, all together at their regular meeting place, or to attend a face-to-face training session.

  • Some work places encourage their employees to volunteer by allowing them to use some working hours towards their volunteering. You can check with the volunteer you line manage if this is a possibility where they work.

  • Double check what is the delivery method available for the module they are required to do: face-to-face, e-learning, or a combination of both. The volunteer might not be aware that many modules are currently done online, and therefore can be completed at any day and time.

  • Suggest the volunteer has a conversation about alternatives with their Training Advisor. They can consider using our independent learning workbooks, one to ones or small group learning options.
  • For face-to-face modules, you can help the volunteer check the offer available in your County/Region/Area, as they might not know where or how to book them. If there is not enough offer, you might consider contacting the relevant commissioner and enquiry about the training offer in the near future.

  • Some work places encourage their employees to volunteer by allowing them to use some working hours towards their volunteering. You can check with the volunteer you line manage if this is a possibility where they work.

  • Temporary exceptions can be made to exclude a member from receiving training reminder emails if the volunteer is going through a difficult moment, such as bereavement or being ill. You can check if the volunteer could be considered to be included in the exemptions list by emailing training.compliance@scouts.org.uk 

  •  Consider using the time of the Scout meeting to complete the training at home. You can support them by finding a leader to cover the volunteer’s absence that week. If suggesting this option, take into consideration that being part of a Scout meeting might be an important part of their support network and mental wellbeing.

  • Check with the wider team of volunteers if there is a device with internet they can bring to the Scout meeting, and suggest the volunteer sits aside while another leader is running an activity.

  • Check with the wider team of volunteers if they have a device they could borrow for this purpose.

  • Suggest the volunteer has a conversation about alternatives with their Training Advisor. They can consider using our independent learning workbooks, one to ones or small group learning options.
  • Check if there are free internet access points around the volunteer’s home, e.g. libraries.

  • Check if there are funds that could be used to support the volunteer to access e-learning modules, e.g. purchasing a sim card with mobile data and a device for training purposes, or using an internet Café. 

  • If the volunteer is not sure where to find the training modules on the website, you can forward them the link with some simple instructions by email.

  • Ask another leader or member of team to act as a buddy/mentor, and show the volunteer how to access and complete these e-learning modules. You can suggest the buddy/mentor guides the volunteer through the website, or sits next to them while they are doing the training.

  • If the volunteer has a disability, health or medical condition, the accessibility tools for independent learning might be helpful for volunteers with vision or hearing problems, and in some cases, those with physical or motor issues.
  • Suggest the volunteer has a conversation about alternatives with their Training Advisor. They can consider using our independent learning workbooks, one to ones or small group learning options.
  • Ask the volunteer if there is any additional support you or others could offer. You could suggest a couple of ways to support them, for example, they partially complete the module (eg the theory part of First Aid training), or check if another leader or member of the team could act as a buddy/mentor to support them.

  • For e-learning modules, the accessibility tools for independent learning might help volunteers with vision or hearing problems, and in some cases, those with physical or motor issues.

Explain that renewing training is a common practice across many organisations, and the main reasons for it are:

  • The guidelines and procedures can change over the years
  • To continually refresh skills and knowledge
  • To provide confidence when applying them

Our young people and volunteers having a safe and great experience is very important and should be for all volunteers. Training supports this.

   

5. Agree on action plan

You can finish the conversation with a clear action plan. Both the volunteer and you should agree on the next steps each of you are expected to take, the timeframe to complete them, and the consequences of not doing it.

If the volunteer hasn’t completed their Wood Badge, safety, safeguarding, GDPR, First Aid or getting started training within the expected timeframe, we suggest you discuss and implement mutually agreed restrictions. Suspension should only be used when absolutely necessary and when all other options have been explored first.

Mutually agreed restrictions allow the volunteer to continue certain aspects of Scouts while they complete the required training. It should be an agreement between the relevant commissioner, the volunteer and you, their line manager.