Cornwall Council is a unitary local authority, formed in 2009 by merging Cornwall County Council and six borough and district councils. It is the biggest employer in Cornwall, with approximately 20,000 employees working from over 350 different locations. It provides a vast array of services, ranging from social care to schools and fire and rescue services to libraries, to more than half a million residents.
The Council is responsible for a budget of more than £1 billion every year. Over the next four years it has to make £170m savings, much of which will come from service restructuring and management efficiencies as well as different ways of delivering services, such as service commissioning, arm’s length organisations, more flexible relationships across the public sector and greater partnership working.
The Council has undergone and continues to undergo significant change. The traditional personnel function has been transformed to a more strategic Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR and OD) Service. This has meant that the Council is more proactive with plans for its people. Within the HR and OD service, a designated learning and development team has been formed to shape and develop a learning culture that supports the business objectives of the Council. The team source and deliver high quality learning programmes, aimed at all employees and managers, that will help enhance the quality of services offered by the council, enhance customer satisfaction levels and improve levels of employee engagement.
Key learning and development activities have, amongst others, included:
• the purchase of an e-learning platform with implementation commencing with the roll out of data protection training;
• the development of the Cornwall Leadership Academy (CLA) offering courses in a number of areas including ‘project management’ and ‘delivering change successfully’, made possible through European Social Fund (ESF) funding, which is available to public sector organisations delivering public sector services;
• a commitment to invest £1m in learning and development over the next four years including the establishment of the Council Workforce Development Board;
• the introduction of over 70 courses made available to employees compared to just a ‘handful’ being available prior to April 2010.
Cornwall Council’s new approach has received overwhelmingly positive feedback with over 98 per cent of staff saying they would recommend courses to a friend or colleague.
Feedback from those who have attended courses so far includes:
• “Enhanced my performance and enabled me to look at all options before looking for solutions.”
• “I am now a more confident manager.”
• “I have implemented a plan using many of the principles and models from the course.”
• “I have used some of the theories already to progress some of my current programmes. I have also used it to re-evaluate my work approach to help me get the best results from others.”
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