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In 2008, following a competitive bidding process, the University of Huddersfield Business School was selected to develop a bespoke Foundation Degree in Business Skills for HR to provide the Royal Mail Group’s HR teams with the enhanced skills required to support major business changes.

The Leadership and Management team in the Business School worked closely with RMG to conduct a thorough Training Needs Analysis and design a course focused on work-based learning relevant to the needs of the organisation.

Most assignments have a work-related element, with some sponsored by senior RMG managers, and modules are delivered both at the University and at RMG’s own training centre. The first graduates qualified in 2010 and the course, now seen by RMG staff as an essential qualification, has made an important contribution to the successful implementation of Royal Mail Group’s strategic organisational change programme.

For an organisation facing the unprecedented challenges of deregulation and dwindling consumer demand recently experienced by the Royal Mail Group (RMG), investments in training must be absolutely aligned to the strategic direction of the business and to supporting its commercial resilience.

In 2008, following a competitive bidding process against 14 other institutions, RMG chose the University of Huddersfield Business School to develop a bespoke Foundation Degree for its HR business unit that would support the specific operating environment within the company. Working in close collaboration with RMG managers, the Leadership and Management team at the Business School conducted a thorough Training Needs Analysis and, from this, developed tailored modules, relevant to the business and vital to helping RMG manage organisational change.

“Our proposal was based on a collaborative approach,” says Jan Carmichael, Head of Division of HR Management at the Business School. “Every business is different and understanding theirs was vital so we spent time listening to RMG staff and raising the profile of the course with potential students.” The Foundation Degree in Business Skills for HR is now perceived as an essential qualification for staff at RMG’s HR Services, providing them with the skills and confidence to drive the culture of efficiency and leadership now at the heart of the organisation. 

We had already introduced NVQ qualifications but the professional exams available to develop our employees further were not wholly appropriate to our needs. The Foundation Degree consolidates skills, enabling staff not just to do their job, but also to think it through with greater business vision and resources.

Dermot Toberty, Director of HR Services at RMG

From the outset, the University saw the value of embedding programme learning and assessment within the RMG working environment.  Study modules are delivered at the University and at RMG’s training centre in Rugby and most assignments include a work-related element. The final work-based project, which is agreed with a senior RMG manager, requires students to demonstrate the value of their learning and its potential impact on the business.

“It is essential that what we do remains current,” says Mrs Carmichael. “Working closely with RMG managers, we conducted a 5 year review of the programme to make certain the course stays relevant to RMG’s changing operating environment and provides graduates with appropriate and applicable skills.”

“The course has been colossally successful and has given staff new-found energy and business confidence.” says Mr Toberty. “Many of the original cohort have progressed to senior positions and now provide measurable benefits to our business. We certainly plan to continue promoting it.”

In 2008, an independent Government review gave a stark warning for RMG to ‘modernise or decline’ and, as a university for business, Huddersfield is proud to have helped implement a successful response to this. The first RMG students graduated in 2010 and the programme continues to grow and add real value to RMG’s managerial strength.