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Training the Trainers: How WRAP is helping M&S change the world, one worker at a time

By: Russ Jowell
Jan 4

Participants at a Train the Trainer course (WRAP Photo)

British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is embarking on a very lofty mission. As part of their “Plan A” commitment to become the world’s most sustainable retailer, the company is setting out to train 500,000 workers at their suppliers’ factories by 2015. The goal is to better educate them on their rights and responsibilities while also broadening their knowledge on more basic skills like financial literacy. Educating half a million workers is not an easy feat however, especially because the factories that employ these workers are scattered throughout the world. This challenge requires a solution that is modular enough to be expanded globally while maintaining its educational effectiveness.

 Enter the “Train the Trainer” course, a joint venture between WRAP and M&S. Developed using the M&S “Induction Essentials” course as a guide, the 2-day “Train the Trainer” course gives factory training personnel valuable lessons on training both new and existing workers in a way that is both effective and engaging. Stuart Webster, WRAP's Vice-President of Training and Education, says this is essential to the course's success. "We believe that the trainer must understand the way people think and learn. People learn in different ways, so our training is constructed to suit all learning styles," says Webster.

The "Train the Trainer" course focuses on three main areas: Health & Safety, Worker’s Rights, and Company Information. Each section shows trainers the best way to disseminate the applicable information and also includes instructions for relevant, interactive activities. "We do not believe in death by PowerPoint," says Webster. An example of interactivity can be seen within the Health & Safety module where workers are split into groups, given various photos of the factory, and instructed to locate any health and safety hazards in those photos. Another similar activity is included that directs workers to circle important pieces of information on their paystubs. This interactivity is critical to the course’s success according to Dr. Anna Harvey, Ethical Trading Manager for M&S. “You’re not going to get your information across otherwise,” she says.

Training workers has been critically important to M&S; the company understands that well-trained workers perform better, are less likely to quit, and ultimately contribute to a growing bottom line. “We recognize how important training is to our factories from a business point of view and from a worker point of view,” says Harvey. She says the "Induction Essentials" course grew out of a desire to ensure all factories have an opportunity to improve where they are right now, giving them an opportunity to add value to their business, and that the trainer’s course will help them reach their goal.

"We recognize how important training is to our factories from a business point of view and from a worker point of view"

Dr. Anna Harvey,
M&S Ethical Trading Manager

WRAP has also worked to ensure the course is modular and portable; able to be tailored and customized for a wide variety of cultures and environments. "We believe that training must be sustainable, so we strive to use local resources whenever possible," says Webster. The course also demonstrates how easily other courses like "Induction Essentials" can be tailored to meet factory-specific training needs. "We want to make sure that we're building capacity at the factory," says Harvey. The course was recently administered in Indonesia by Jospeh Lok, WRAP's Senior Manager of Compliance and Training. He says the course was very well received by its participants. "These are all very interesting new ideas which I can incorporate into our training," said one participant. Others commented on how enjoyable the course was made through humor and said the 2-day session was time well spent.

The trainer's course ensures that factory personnel have the necessary skillsets to effectively transfer important information to their workers. "By training the trainers in the factory, we're leaving a legacy," says Harvey.

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