Developing people through training
A Forestry Commission case study

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Page 4: Types of learning and training


'On-the-job' training involves training at work. This is the best way of learning practical work based skills. The trainee learns by carrying out real work tasks under instruction from a colleague, trainer or manager. For foresters this includes how to plant new seedlings and protect them from the cold and heat. Methods include:

  • coaching - the coach guides and instructs the trainee
  • mentoring - a mentor, a more experienced person, provides advice and support
  • secondment - an employee goes to work elsewhere for a short period to learn useful skills.

An apprentice will combine work with a more experienced forester who will help and guide them, with formal studying for a qualification. On-the-job training is cost-effective.


'Off-the-job' training involves attending courses and training events away from the workplace, for example, Julie's university degree. Benefits include the opportunity of meeting other people in similar roles and discussing new ideas.

The Forestry Commission invests heavily in training for managerial development. This provides the leaders of the future. Through the appraisal process all employees have a Personal Development Plan (PDP) which highlights their strengths and weaknesses. This makes it possible to build on the strengths and improve areas of weakness through training and development.

The Forestry Commission's Leadership Programme helps a manager learn to take on more responsibility. This may be through:

  • 360 degree feedback - managers are given feedback on their way of working from above (by their line manager), from below (by those working for them), from the side (by peer workers)
  • specialist courses at development centres
  • formal study or distance learning, like Julie's Masters Degree.

The Forestry Commission has created a Competency Framework of the skills required by the organisation and its employees. The diagram shows how this would work for a mechanical engineer.

Identifying individuals' skills gaps makes it possible to design appropriate training for them. This might include taking a higher degree or updating Health and Safety training.

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Forestry Commission | Developing people through training