New Zealand Customized Computer Training

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					                             My name is Pam Martin and I set up Extra
Mile Training to help a group of people who are busy keeping this
country's economy working but seem to miss out on training and
development. They are the mature people who work in business support. In
the 2001 census 87% of legislators, administrators and business managers
were over 30 years old. They left school before computers were introduced
into school classrooms. They have taught themselves to use a computer and
other types of technology, usually around the job they do.Now this group,
who often have remarkable skills and experience, find themselves at a
disadvantage because they don't feel confident around technology. They
feel defensive and lack the confidence to ask their younger colleagues to
help for fear of appearing stupid. It made me angry to see people who
play such a vital role in New Zealand's economy being left out in the
cold.Having worked in Business Support myself I know what a thankless
task it can be. Support staff are often overworked and undervalued and
yet they are the heart of New Zealand business. They understand the
customers and the suppliers. They ensure that orders are processed
accurately and on time, keep records and deal with financial matters such
as payments and payroll. They also act as a hub for the business
providing a central point of contact for staff and management as well as
having a broad base of valuable knowledge about the company, staff and
customers.Women in this role are frequently second wage earners with
growing families, who tend to put their professional development needs on
hold in the face of the need for job security. They can't afford the time
or money for a full time course and part time courses are often too
general for their needs. Men are hindered by similar difficulties with
computers. The changing roles within administration have left them facing
the challenge of producing letters and reports, which would previously
have been completed by their secretaryThese are the people who need help
to up skill to provide a strong foundation for the Knowledge Economy.As
Community Education Coordinator at Rangitoto College I had an opportunity
to observe how community education caters for this group. They provide
general courses on computing etc. but the classes are often run by
teachers with no experience of the working environment. Classes covered a
wide range of age and ability so usually had no practical value.When I
left Rangitoto College I started to investigate training programmes and
found that there was nothing available that was targeted at this group. I
began to search for research or articles on the training needs of mature
workers in business support roles who needed to increase their skills. It
is interesting that I could find no specific research. I even contacted
various groups such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, who fund
a lot of research, and they couldn't find anything either.The courses
that are available seem to cater for every ethnic and cultural group,
unemployed, beneficiaries, ACC clients, youth, and even new immigrants
but not the people who keep their noses to the grindstone and get on with
the work. Many Private Training Enterprises (PTEs) cater for courses,
which attract government grants or student loans, but these took too long
or would cost too much. Others were focused on the corporate market and
as such charged corporate rates. I decided that there needed to be a
special type of course that would specifically cater for the needs of
mature adults working full time in business support. I went to AUT to
study Tertiary Teaching and spent a lot of time talking to the people I
wanted to help.Customized Computer Training has helped many people to
develop specific computer learning outcomes that other systemized
computer training may not have helped with. You can Customize the
computer training to suit your organization.As a result Extra Mile
Training was created to provide a learning experience where mature adults
can come to learn without feeling self-conscious about the gaps in their
knowledge. Where the qualified tutors also have practical experience in
the real world. The practical courses are designed to take account of the
student's work and life experience and covers skill areas that will help
them reach their goals. They will also acknowledge the belief that an
element of fun and laughter helps everyone to learn better.I want
students to look forward to coming to Extra Mile Training and to return
to their jobs having learned skills that will make a real difference to
the work they are doing. Extra Mile will be there to support them if they
need assistance and I hope they will come back again and again because
they want to be a part of our new approach to teaching mature adults. Pam

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