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Digital training should be for all, says TalkTalk HRD

All companies could benefit from rolling out digital training to every employee, group HR director at TalkTalk Nigel Sullivan has told HR magazine.

The group has embarked on a digital training programme with digital training specialist Decoded. This has so far featured TalkTalk’s top 100 senior managers taking part in a data and decoding day last autumn; an All Hands day in April where all 2,600 TalkTalk staff took part in a simpler version of this; and digital lunch and learn sessions at TalkTalk’s Careers Festival. 

Sullivan said employees could also sign up individually or in teams to further training on the three main areas of coding, data and hacking.

The idea is to prepare all employees for a future where the majority of jobs will require at least some digital know-how, and to engage staff with the strategic future direction of the company. It is vital that all workers feel included in this regardless of how digital technology-orientated their current role is, said Sullivan. 

“We now live in a data world and that’s increasing in pace,” he said. “Our B2B business five years ago was mainly a traditional analogue telecoms business, but now it’s very much a digital business. And from a strategic point of view we want the consumer to feel more like they’re dealing with Amazon than a telecoms company, so they can self-serve, they can report service issues online.” 

Sullivan added: “We believe that the internet is for everyone. We believe that in terms of our customers and our people as well. This training can only be a good thing for our business.”

Examples of where this training has already paid off include in helping salespeople truly understand their products, all employees using TalkTalk’s internal intranet, ensuring all staff realise the importance of protecting customer data, and in helping the HR team determine the best recruitment software package for the company.

“That system has been incredibly helpful and I doubt we’d have gone for it without that training,” said Sullivan, of the benefits he’s personally experienced so far. 

He added that the training also just generally boosts morale by demystifying something people often find daunting, and helping them navigate the online world in their day-to-day lives.

All industries could benefit from this morale-boosting effect and from building digital skills for the future, he said. 

“Digital skills are scarce so this makes business sense,” he said, adding: “I can’t think of any industry that isn’t affected by the digital world. Any company interacting with consumers is affected. Digital is everywhere.”