Parking Review Issue 286 | February 2016
A training plan approach ensures individual staff development and also benefits their teams, says Penny Winder.
Training is central to ensuring that people working in parking have the knowledge and skills to ensure they can implement policies, procedures and interact with the public in a professional manner.
A challenge facing all parking operators is the fact that their staff will inevitably have a variable range of experience, qualifications and aptitudes. The ideal solution is to develop a structured approach that maps the skillsets of individuals and plans their progress in a manner that complements the wider team and meets the needs of the operator.
Alpha Parking has launched a ‘parking training plan’ service that is designed to help managers plan the personal development of team members. “Many local authorities and private operators are keen to develop their staff and raise standards by providing a structured parking training plan,” says Penny Winder, director of Alpha Parking.
Alpha is an established provider of training programmes for the parking sector. It works in partnership with City & Guilds to deliver a range of qualifications for both front line civil enforcement officers (CEOs) and back office staff. Its new service seeks to assist parking operations to improve the efficiency and quality of their service and motivate staff by providing a planned and structured staff development plan. Understanding the quality and depth of learning within a team sees Alpha work with each individual within the group. “The parking training plan approach develops skills in a structured manner. It improves standards, motivates staff and allows adaption of training to meet the operator’s specific needs,” says Winder.
The initial exercise involves scoping the council or contractor’s operation. Alpha Parking’s training managers meet the operator to discuss the client’s specific parking policy objectives and operational needs. This enables the Alpha team to develop an understanding of the parking services’ training needs.
The next stage is an audit of each team member’s skillset and qualifications that enables the Alpha team to map what new training and accreditation is required. The Alpha team then develops individual training plans for staff, tailoring the plans to reflect their roles and existing skills. The individual training plans are recorded on the Alpha database and updated as courses are attended and qualifications gained. This database provides reports to assist the operator and form the basis for discussion at the six monthly training plan meetings.
“As learning is an ongoing, lifelong process, Alpha works with the client to establish a rolling training plan,” says Winder. “We set up and maintain a training database to reflect individual staff aspirations, to plan their training and monitor their progress.”
Hounslow builds an understanding of training needs
The London Borough of Hounslow was one the first organisations to adopt Alpha’s structured parking training plan approach. The plan applies to the council’s parking department, which covers the notice processing and contract management areas. “Our partnership with Alpha Parking in developing and running a parking training plan has been a successful and satisfactory experience,” says Hounslow’s head of parking Melanie Gadd.
“Alpha worked efficiently to develop the individual training plans, set up and manage the database and provide the appropriate training. It has been, and remains, both a satisfactory and an enjoyable experience.” Gadd recognised the importance of parking training when she initiated a training plan that provides for the whole of the Hounslow parking service department.
The plan ensures that each staff member has an individual training development plan and attends appropriate structured training throughout each financial year.
To help her understand her team’s needs, Gadd personally attended training sessions and sat the examinations for the core notice processing qualification — she achieved the Level 3 City & Guilds Notice Processing qualification. Gadd believes this was vital not only to provide the clear basis for her own understanding but also to assess the training quality of the courses being attended by her staff.
Gadd explains: “Parking skills are far more complex and extensive than many people outside the industry may realise. I am concerned that the training provided helps my staff to understand and apply these skills rather than just training them to pass the exams. By attending the courses myself I can both demonstrate commitment to the staff and check that they are receiving an appropriate quality of support and assistance.”