European Training Foundation: Communication Week 2013

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The European Training Foundation (ETF) is a European Union-funded agency that supports the development of education and training systems in 30 non-EU ‘partner’ nations. These include countries that border or are close to EU member states, from the Balkans and the former Soviet republics of central Asia to the Middle East and North Africa. The ETF’s core mission is to help these EU ‘neighbours’ develop the skills of their populations in order to promote political stability, economic development and human rights.

This work includes initiatives in education governance; skills assessment and planning; national and regional strategies; and the Torino Process, an analysis and evaluation scheme which provides a two-yearly review of overall progress toward the ETF’s goals. The ETF has an excellent reputation for knowledge and expertise in improving the quality of vocational education and training systems, even in countries facing very challenging political and economic circumstances.

A staff survey in 2012 indicated a widespread view among ETF staff that they could achieve better outcomes by increasing their capability and confidence in a range of communication skills. The survey, conducted by respected consultancy ORC International, tested levels of employee engagement and satisfaction against previous survey results and external benchmarks. The survey revealed a healthy overall engagement index of 74 per cent, with above-benchmark results for items relating to job satisfaction, pay and benefits and teamwork. Moreover, the number of employees willing to recommend the ETF as ‘a great place to work’ rose by 18 percentage points compared to the previous staff survey.
Alongside these strong headline results the survey revealed an opportunity to improve internal and external engagement in the ETF’s objectives, and build the staff’s ability to explain the impact of their work. By doing so, the ETF aims to strengthen its relationships with funders in EU institutions and break through the complex, technical nature of its projects to share the story more effectively.

Senior management asked the Communication and HR teams to respond to the staff’s stated desire for better communication skills, and in doing so to focus on improving inter-departmental and line management communication, while exploring the link between the high scores for job satisfaction and relatively low scores for motivation. The two teams put together a programme of training called Communication Week, which ran from 12 to 20 September 2013. The skills covered included writing, visual communication, email and intranet management and organisational storytelling

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