HC Deb 23 May 1986 vol 98 cc325-7W
Mr. Sheerman

asked the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed as representing the House of Commons Commission what is the average time spent by employees in each Department of the House in on-the-job and off-the-job training.

Mr. Beith

With the exception of certain off-the-job training courses provided to staff on a House-wide basis, details of which are given at the end of this answer, training is arranged by each House Department according to its individual requirements. Statements of each Department's arrangements appear below. For the reasons indicated in those statements, it is not possible to give figures of average time spent by employees in training activities.

Department of the Clerk of the House

Training is principally on-the-job. Throughout a probationary period (two years for Clerks, one year for others), and for longer if necessary, employees work under the close supervision of more senior staff. During the period a training programme informs them about the work of different Offices within the Department, and of other Departments. From time to time staff also participate in courses at the Civil Service College, language training at the Diplomatic Language Training Centre, Civil Service secretarial proficiency courses and commercial computer courses. Total time spent on formalised or off-the-job training was estimated at 824 hours in 1985.

Department of the Serjeant at Arms

Staff of the Department have attended courses on the following subjects:

  • Employment Law
  • Occupational Health
  • First Aid at Work
  • Interview Techniques
  • Building Security
  • Secretarial Proficiency Courses
  • Internal Mail Handling

In addition to the above, Attendant staff receive training in the operation of copying machines.

The following courses are in prospect:

  • Chairing meetings
  • Searching techniques

Due to the specialised nature of the work in the House of Commons, much of the training must be carried out at work. The Department is actively seeking to broaden the range of courses attended within the constraints of the manning levels required.

Department of the Library

Training tends to be concentrated on staff at the earlier stages of their careers, so it would not be very meaningful to compute an average using the total staff as a denominator. Estimates for the readily quantifiable forms of training for the calendar year 1985 are as follows:

Courses/ Trainees Trainee Days*
Introductory courses arranged by the Administration Department 8 16
Word processor training (secretaries) 5 16
Secretarial Proficiency training 2 4
Civil Service College Courses 9 13
Other externally provided training 16 20
Programme of visits to Library Sections (recent recruits) 11 19
Training and re-training on the Library's POLIS data-base 66 52
Training on other data-bases (eg BLAISE, LEXIS) 7 8
First-aid training 4 4
Study leave and examination leave (further education and training scheme) 3 13
Pre-licentiate (Library qualification) training 2 31
Other internally provided training 3 5
Total 136 201
* Numbers of trainees multiplied by the length of the course.

"On-the-job" training continues for as long as is necessary for the individual member of staff, i.e. until he or she is capable of carrying out his/her duties without close supervision. Its length varies with the grade of post and with the previous experience of the post-holder and it is not therefore possible to provide even approximate figures.

In the Vote Office,all training to date is giver. on-the- job. It is carried out in a four-year cycle as follows:

  • First Year—Parliamentary Section documentation.
  • Second Year — Non-Parliamentary and Northern Ireland documentation.
  • Third Year—European documentation.
  • Final Year—Sale Office, photo-reproduction micro-fiche.

In addition there are proposals to nominate a number of more senior staff for training in computer skills and management, but this is dependent on when the Office's proposed microcomputer system becomes operational.

Administration Department

It is impossible to state the average time spent by staff in the Administration Department in on-the-job training. Such training is given according to an individuals needs and depends upon his previous experience and the demands of the work to which he is from time to time assigned.

Off-the-job training is also provided to meet the needs of the individuals according to the work to which they are currently assigned, and since this varies according to the frequency of any changes in duties which become necessary, it is not possible to provide a realistic average figure of this form of training for all staff.

Staff of the Administration Department have attended both functional and grade related (e.g. management skills) off-the-job training courses run by the Civil Service College and other outside organisations. During the last two years 212 staff days have been devoted to participation in such training courses.

Department of the Official Report

The training programme for Trainee Reporters is normally two years under the Stenograph system, of which at least the first year is taken up with full-time training. The training time for a transcriber is normally a year, but that is wholly 'on-the-job' training.

Currently 13 reporters out of an establishment of 19 are receiving training, nine full time and four in post, and nine transcribers out of an establishment of 27 are in training.

Refreshment Department

It is the policy of the Refreshment Department to recruit professional staff who are adequately qualified academically and fully experienced. From time to time, however, this may be supplemented through specialised external training course, e.g. City and Guilds course in catering.

Off-the-job training provided to staff on a house-wide basis co-ordinated by the establishment office
Number and Grades of Staff Type of course Where held Length in days
All newcomers to staff of the House irrespective of grade 66 (to date) volunteer First-Aiders on House staff Introduction Course House of Commons 2
First Aid Training
(i) Initial Training Course St. John Ambulance Association 3
(ii) Requalification Course (once every 3 years) St. John Ambulance Association 2
(iii) Refresher Training (once every year) St. John Ambulance Association 1
All Secretarial and Typing Grades Typing Training Course DOE Typing Training Centre 2
Shorthand or Audio Training Course DOE Typing Training Centre 2
Various Grades (as and when required—10 to date) Selection Interviewing Techniques Course Civil Service College 3
Promotion Board Interviewing Techniques Course Civil Service College 3

Further Education

On a House-wide basis, co-ordinated by the Establishments Office, staff are encouraged to undertake courses of further education and training. For approved courses, staff are given assistance towards the cost of fees, board and travelling, and in addition may be given time off for study and to take examinations. The length of time over which assistance is given varies greatly, e.g. from one year for an O-level course in one subject to several years for an Open University degree course.