Embracing our Learning Power:
Growing, Connecting and Engaging

Learning at Work Week 2024 

The overall theme of 2024's Learning at Work Week is ‘Learning Power’ and it’s underpinned by three subheadings: the Power to Grow, the Power to Connect and the Power to Engage. We’ve been firing on all cylinders to create a programme of activity to support and promote these areas of focus. We’re passionate about continuous learning and development every week at First Central, not just this week, and encourage all our people to enrich their lives inside and outside the office through increased understanding, knowledge and skills. 

We make sure our colleagues know how to assess where they are so they can easily work out the experience, skills and behaviours they need to develop if they want to progress and reach their goals. They’re in control of their own careers; we support their growth with clear pathways and appropriate resources and people. There are so many learning opportunities and we all stay curious and interested. Together we can see the world in a different way, develop and fulfil our ambitions. We don’t stand still.

We keep a close eye on colleagues’ experience at First Central. We want to create an environment where everyone can grab their learning and development with both hands and shape the future they want. Career Hub’s key to these ambitions. It’s the go-to platform for learning something new, for finding a gig (a short-term project alongside your day job), for discovering a mentor or for finding career opportunities based on your skills. It’s a rich networking resource too. We’re a talented bunch and we need to shout about the expertise we’re already nailing and the new capabilities we’re keen to explore. Making sure we populate Career Hub with specific, up-to-date skills means we’ll enjoy tailored suggested learning and connect with the right colleagues. And, we encourage everyone to include whatever their extracurricular pursuits have taught them. ‌With the boundaries blurring between work and home life, it’s all about cross-fertilisation and our people get stuck in. 

‌To highlight the Power of our people to Grow we reminded everyone that age is no barrier to our apprenticeships. They mix job-focused training, accredited learning and paid employment and they’re available in lots of different career areas, tiers ranging from Level 2 (GCSE) up to Level 7 (Masters Degree) depending on the role. It’s a mix of superpowers. And, apprenticeships aren’t open only to young people starting their first jobs. 2023 was our busiest year yet for enrolments by existing employees keen to move ahead. Simone Todaro‘s one of the colleagues on an exciting apprenticeship journey. Why not read about his experiences and learn more about our inspirational opportunities?

Secondments are a great way for colleagues to try out a new role and First Central’s always encouraged people to adapt and evolve. They’re fantastic for boosting internal recruitment and rewarding the talent within but today’s secondments take things to a whole new level. Introducing our ‘Career Interchange’ programme, an innovative approach to secondments which supports colleagues to attend a relevant training course or bitesize qualification during the period they’re flexing their career. We’re helping people to grow their experience and skills, not only to boost their development but to encourage career mobility and keep us agile. 

Monira Choudhury’s our first intrepid Career Interchanger. Coming from a Customer Improvement background in Customer and Operations, she started a Reconciliations Accounts Assistant role in Finance in January for six months. PLUS, we’ve signed her up to an accredited Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Introduction to Bookkeeping course. So, even if Monira’s new role doesn’t become permanent, she’ll have advanced her skills and acquired a relevant qualification. More accomplishments for her tool bag. 

‌To stay ahead, First Central’s strives to keep the knowledge and skills we’ve developed in the business fresh. Having the right people with the right abilities in the right place at the right time is key. How do we do this? Well, in recent years we've sharpened our focus on early careers. In other words, on forging relationships with local colleges and universities to develop mutually beneficial exchange programmes. We're exposed to leading edge ideas and knowledge while the students gain practical experience of working in an environment relevant for their studies. Last September we welcomed our first undergraduate placement students to the business and are creating more opportunities along these lines and for internships. These, like placements but more condensed, usually last anything from a few weeks to a couple of months and are often called ‘summer internships’ because they generally take place during the summer holidays. They can be a spot-on resource for short term projects in the business. 

It’s a busy old week this week. Alongside Learning at Work Week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and, to mark the occasion, we reminded people of the strategies they can use to cope with life’s twists and turns and the external factors that often influence our mental health. We may not have control over everything, but we do hold the power to shape our responses. Unmind is First Central’s Wellbeing app and we refreshed people’s memories about the wealth of tools that can support them to reclaim a sense of control. They include:

  • A 'Navigating Life Events' series, offering invaluable guidance and support
  • ‌Soundscapes for a refreshing change of pace if you need to refocus
  • ‌A comprehensive library of mental health resources for those who are struggling. There are fact sheets and vital information on lots of topics along with avenues for urgent assistance, including useful helplines for different countries and trusted organisations.  

Continuous learning is good for us all. It’s true, it doesn’t just improve our knowledge and stretch our brain cells it’s linked to enhanced mental health and overall Wellbeing. That’s why we underlined the host of resources First Central's Wellbeing Strategy makes available. Equipping ourselves with this essential information empowers us to navigate the ever-changing landscapes of both work and life with confidence and resilience. It keeps us on top. Here are some recent statistics: 

  1. ‌Our Wellbeing eNPS score on Employee Engagement Programme Peakon stands at an impressive +66, placing us in the top 5% of our industry
  2. Our Wellbeing events have attracted an outstanding average eNPS score of +80.
  3. Notably, 72% of our Line Managers have participated in comprehensive 3.5-hour sessions focusing on Mental Health awareness and Conversation skills

We’re proud of our people-first culture and the figures show our colleagues believe we care. That’s because we do. 

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