Why organisational learning and development can be a recruiter’s secret weapon

Charlotte Vass

As part of Newman Stewart’s personal development programme, Charlotte Vass (Associate Director) is currently completing a CIPD Level 5 qualification in Organisational Learning and Development. Here, she discusses how the course is going, why it’s helping her navigate the hydrogen sector, the importance of learning and development in recruitment, and what it’s like to never stop learning.


So, Charlotte, why Organisational Learning and Development, and why CIPD?

I’ve always had a passion for training people and supporting them with the platforms they need to develop, so a qualification along those lines seemed like the obvious choice for me.

I’d only been here a few weeks before I got involved with revamping the company’s training programme. It had all the right theory and content, but it just wasn’t being implemented in the right way. So we introduced some more practical tasks and mentorship meetings among a few other things, and we got it back on track really quickly.

After seeing that, John was keen to understand where I wanted to go next and help me develop along those lines. We did our research, and we both came to the conclusion that the CIPD qualification was the best option out there.


Has it been a lot to take in?

It has, but it’s all been useful and interesting. I’ve got 18 months to finish the course, and I’m hoping to get it all done within the year, so it’s just a case of finding the time (I’m currently doing all my studying outside of work hours). I’m kind of used to it though. I somehow managed to complete my third year of university while working a full-time job in London.


What are you hoping to get out of the course?

There’s a lot I want to learn, for example how to train people effectively, how to improve people’s management skills, how to build a successful start-up plan and how to get the best out of people.

But, ultimately, I want to improve my ability to enable effective development at all levels — from new starters to senior individuals. Whether it’s something like having a negative conversation with someone, or training them on a basic skill, having that full range of skills would be a real achievement.

We’re in such a connected world now. It’s scarily connected at times, but people are always at their best when they’re learning. If you can develop and support people effectively, then that attitude feeds into your culture and helps drive the business forward. That’s what I want to do.


How is the course helping you in your day to day job?

It’s actually had a huge impact. I’m working in the renewables and hydrogen space at the minute, where there’s a real challenge of talent scarcity (it’s still a relatively new market after all). There’s such a limited number of people with the hands-on experience required for a lot of roles, which means we’re having to strategise very carefully with our clients, formulating their future organisational structures years in advance at times.

In other words, you’re rarely going to find “perfect” in this space. It pretty much doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s about finding someone brilliant, and then putting a development plan in place to ensure that they will be beyond brilliant in the future. It’s a unique challenge, but this training has been effective — in terms of how it’s helped me communicate with clients about the importance of future proofing their business, and how exactly they can do that.


What happens when businesses get this wrong?

I think what’s common in a lot of organisations is that people who are great at their job get pushed into management, and then they end up not being natural people managers. Not only does this inevitably lead to poor performance across the team, it also trickles down. People often learn how to manage by copying their own managers; if their managers are doing things wrong, then those mistakes are carried over to the next generation. There can be a lack of focus on learning and development in recruitment when we’re all so busy with our day jobs.

It’s a cycle, and that’s why it’s so important to train your people on how to get the best out of the team. But it’s even more important to give them the support they need to do so. It’s an incredibly difficult skill, and you can’t just expect people to figure it out on their own.

Don’t micromanage. Give people the space they need to learn, develop, and then change.


Why is it so important for businesses to offer this support?

From a personal standpoint, the fact that Newman Stewart has such a focus on learning and development in recruitment, shows that they really care. I’d only been here a few months before they offered to support me with the CIPD qualification, so it was a real vote of confidence for me.

A lot of businesses treat their employees like numbers. When you do that, you’re effectively putting their potential in a box and throwing away the key.


What’s next after this course, then?

This is a Level Five qualification, so there’s still plenty up the food chain in terms of CIPD courses I can sink my teeth into. But for now, I’m just going to focus on finishing what I’ve started! 


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