Delivering the right solutions

26th November 2014


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Richard Pawson

Paul Suff talks to commercial director Lynda Millar about the work of iemaSTS

IEMA launched its commercial training subsidiary, Sustainability Training Solutions or iemaSTS, in July. Since the start of October, it has been fully operational, putting in place measures to ensure that training certified and approved by the Institute is of the highest quality, and that the range of available courses continues to expand to meet the professional development needs of both environment and sustainability practitioners, and businesses.

IEMA commercial director Lynda Millar heads iemaSTS. Most recently, she was the principal and head of learning at the Ford College UK, which delivers more than 35,000 trainee days a year to staff throughout its 700 dealerships. She describes iemaSTS as the leading environmental learning and development partner for organisations to upskill their staff to ensure that they meet their strategic environmental and sustainability goals.

“iemaSTS will develop and approve courses but it will not provide the training. We aim to deliver commercial training products and services through our training partners,” she says. “IEMA has developed an enviable catalogue of excellent courses and training materials over the years, such as the associate certificate in environmental management. We set the standards for the courses and our approved training organisations. In this way, learners can be sure they will receive high-quality learning certified by the internationally recognised IEMA brand.”

Raising standards

To create a portfolio in line with international commercial demand, iemaSTS has split training provision into certified and approved courses. The former consists of those designed and created by the Institute, with the latter containing bespoke courses developed by a third party to a standard validated by IEMA.

“Both certified and approved courses fit the IEMA skills map. That is important as it ensures all learning opportunities are not only of a high quality but also support the career paths for the environment and sustainability profession,” says Millar.

As well as the associate certificate in environmental management, other courses attracting IEMA certification include: the foundation certificate in environmental management; the IEMA diploma in sustainable business practice; lead environmental auditor; and the recently launched course on making the transition to ISO 14001: 2015 for individuals who are responsible for implementing or maintaining an environment management system (EMS). This addition covers the new requirements of the revised international standard for EMSs.

The list of approved courses includes: the introduction to auditing and evaluating behaviour change; ISO 50001 internal energy management system auditor; carbon literacy for public sector procurers; environmental good practice on site; and environment management in construction.

“The split recognises that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but that learners and organisations can benefit from a wide range of courses that are backed by the internationally recognised IEMA brand,” says Millar. “iemaSTS is working with its training partners to build their capacity and capability to operate effectively in a
fast-evolving market for skills training.”

In its drive to raise standards, iemaSTS has changed the way it approves partners. It not only assesses courses, which was how the Institute previously authorised providers, but it is now also putting the training organisations themselves
under scrutiny. Millar says: “We need to ensure they are financially viable, for example, and will be able to continue to deliver high-quality training provision. We will only recognise credible training organisations – those with quality courses and teachers, and which are dedicated to finding the right environmental and sustainable learning solutions for their customers.”

iemaSTS has been described as a “brokerage” service and Millar explains that this entails acting as the link between companies seeking high-quality training and providers. She illustrates how this will work through the example of a company that wants to support 100 employees to attain the associate certificate or to raise environmental awareness across its workforce by sending them on a training course. “iemaSTS will introduce the company to providers so it can select which one to deliver the qualifications. Alternatively, iemaSTS will manage the whole process, whether the training is only for staff in the UK or across several countries,” she says. “I’d describe it as an internal-external procurement service, providing an attractive solution for employers and training partners alike.”

Spreading IEMA training

IEMA has just more than 90 approved training partners in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and is aiming to double this over the next 12 months.

Achieving that will come partly from increasing the number of courses and products that IEMA recognises. “We’re examining the IEMA skills map to see what areas require more training support,” says Millar. It will also come from growing IEMA’s international body of registered training providers. “Part of the iemaSTS remit is to continue to expand our certified and approved training courses globally.”

Millar also expects a big increase in online learning, which will bring into its fold training providers which are specialist e-learning organisations.

“We recognise that IEMA needs to provide a much bigger range of e-learning opportunities. The demand for such learning from individuals and companies is growing all the time,” says Millar.

Expansion is also likely to come from the decision to rebrand the “all jobs greener” suite of training courses – working with environmental sustainability; managing with environmental sustainability; and leading with environmental sustainability – as an IEMA product.

The City & Guilds product will still be available, where there is demand. However, iemaSTS wants a broader range of training providers to be involved in their delivery, including colleges, universities, government departments and companies. iemaSTS
is targeting three main sectors initially – rail (see Network Rail on pp.iii–vi), construction and defence – to broaden the reach of the three courses. She points out that many companies have successfully used the courses, including BAE Systems, EM Highway Services and Royal Mail.

“When it comes to raising environmental and sustainability awareness across an international workforce or groups of employees, we want the all jobs greener courses to be the products of choice for all sectors,” Millar says. “It’s such a fantastic suite of qualifications that we need to open the door to other providers.”

Fast forward

The overwhelming response to iemaSTS from training providers and companies is positive. “The IEMA brand is very powerful, and individuals, companies and training organisations want to be associated with it,” Millar says. The IEMA logo will now be included in all training materials and on the certificates that successful learners receive for completing qualifications. “That will demonstrate to their employers or prospective employers that they have achieved a specific level of competence.”

She also says iemaSTS is working closely with global employers to develop innovative training solutions. In July, IEMA brought together representatives from employers, such as Atkins, BP, Skanska, WSP, Siemens, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence, to explore and develop how the Institute can support businesses and help them to address the “perfect storm” recently outlined in a special publication from IEMA, which accompanied the October issue of the environmentalist.

It describes a world economy facing a supply deficit driven by global mega-trends, including population growth, increasing demand for natural resources and soaring costs of energy, together with the impacts of climate change and ecosystem degradation. All are combining to pose significant challenges to the long-term success of business and the global economy, it says.

IEMA believes that environmental and sustainability skills are fundamental to ensuring that the global economy and businesses can survive this storm. That not only means enhancing the skills and capabilities of environment and sustainability professionals so they can integrate sustainability throughout their organisations and value chains, but also increasing knowledge and understanding of these subjects among all workers.

Ultimately, Millar sees iemaSTS as being pivotal to helping to bridge the growing green skills gap. “I believe that iemaSTS will practically and strategically enable individuals and businesses everywhere to have access to training that really makes a difference,” she says.

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