I worked at learndirect full-time
Learndirect was once a fantastic place to work which many people believed in because of what it was trying to achieve. It had some ethics and values. Back in the days it had a real buzz about it and staff were treated well. It had a feel good factor which motivated people. Home working was flexible and people were trusted and given responsibility. Some good people still remain with integrity . People involved were proud of the work at the 2013 Ofsted where the company was awarded Grade 1 for leadership and management which speaks for itself On balance I enjoyed my time there and there were some good people in Management.
Questions need asking however about what went wrong between 2013-2017. It’s easy to point fingers at individuals and like any big business there were plenty of pantomime villains .
But enter stage left the big elephant in the room . The private equity arm of a bank bailed out by the taxpayer who raped the business, saddled it with debt and presided over a number a highly questionable deals with other businesses in their portfolio. Remembering that learndirect was a business funded by taxpayers it is in my opinion a scandal how the Owners operated. They come out of this with no credit having ruined a great business which was there to help people who needed support in life. The recent accounts published are littered with reports of abandoned deals, aborted projects costing millions. Whoever presided over these decisions will no doubt be revealed however the owners should take total responsibility for this shambolic Financial and strategic mis-management.
A situation then unfolded where all the good things that went on before were sidelined in favour of profits. People in suits then start swanning around and power dressers looking for the next line on there CV and it was a recipe for disaster. It was like a scene from the Apprentice . Ultimately salesman and Educators are different people and is was a poor fit with differing views. You can’t sell Education it’s about helping people improve their lives, The recent Ofsted hardly came as a no surprise to many who were saddened that Advice was not listened to.
There were simply too many people climbing a career ladder quite happy to build little empires and take credit for others good work. Many were a poor fit well in an education business. New senior People turned up regularly from god knows where and disappeared just as quickly . It’s seemed like every Friday night at the pub people told to ask any old mate to get involved . That’s speak volumes . People didn’t rate many and they didn’t help themselves either. It was even sadder when Quality people had been let go to save a few quid.
The last few years were hard work, not particularly enjoyable and work became a chore when it was once enjoyable. A 1980s culture with micro management thrown in for good measure then created poor atmosphere across the whole business. It was like being in a real life version of “The Office” at times with a few characters who wouldnt have been out of place on the Alan Partridge show.
Some of the secrecy around the recent inspection created an air of suspicion and was a big mistake when a bit of honesty would have been better , a botched redundancy process follows and the business left with a reputation in tatters. A terribly sad state of affairs for those who cared about the business.
Advice to Management
If it gets to the time to sound the General emergency signal and abandon ship tell the staff as they should be respected.
Personally I think the CEO has been dropped into an unmanageable situation when the ship was on the rocks and taking on water fast. He has an impossible job.
When the dust settles people need to be honest with themselves and look at what could have been done differently and ask : Were they strong enough to stand up the owners ? Only they will know but they were paid enough to do just that.
Slave Billic when he was sacked from West Ham rung his players up and asked for feedback about what he could have done differently - maybe there is an idea in there.
I have tried to keep this review balanced and honest out of respect for a company that gave me some good years and good friends.
I applied through an employee referral. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at learndirect (Bristol, England (UK)) in February-2017.
An employee recommended me for the position as I have and had teaching experience of vulnerable adults in I.T fundamentals, plus I had the qualification they needed a Tutor for.
I was telephoned given an assessment interview over the phone, then and asked to attend an informal chat. Location was easy to get to. The interviewer admitted that she hadn't prepped the interview questions she had planned to ask.
Lovely interviewers but they asked outdated questions in relation to the qualifications required.
The learndirect service delivery process is identical the ITIL Service Delivery Cycle ... just renamed.
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