Adapting Trade Policy Training To A New Environment

Adapting Trade Policy Training To A New Environment

United Kingdom – Meeting more diverse needs and improving value for taxpayers are just a few benefits of virtual learning for the Trade Policy and Negotiations Faculty.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Trade Policy and Negotiations Faculty (TPNF) trains all kinds of civil servants (in the UK and overseas), from those that have an interest in trade policy up to chief negotiators. They run an extensive expert programme to improve subject-matter knowledge and negotiations expertise.

Known as the Expert Deep Dive programme, it is aimed at government officials specialising in a particular area of trade policy, usually advisors or chapter leads in negotiations. The programme, originally a four day face-to-face course, was adapted for virtual delivery during the pandemic. It was also an opportunity to extend the training overseas to deliver to an internationally based audience, while making cost savings.

To ensure interactivity in training delivery, and after assessing requirements and priorities for virtual delivery across HMG, the TPNF developed its own new training system which supported live training. Since its roll-out in June 2020, the TPNF has allocated 230 places on the Expert Deep Dive programme, whose format is now more accessible to busy officials.

It has provided a better, more accessible offer for learners; improved value for taxpayers; and meets more diverse needs. Officials posted across the world are now able to access the training available as easily as UK-based colleagues, a barrier lifted by the move to a virtual environment. In developing its own in-house training, the TPNF has been able to draw-on experts worldwide to develop and deliver tailored training.

The TPNF has used online platforms to enrich its offer in other creative ways. For example, offering fully online ‘teach-ins’ on key trade policy issues, including: Trade and Race; US Trade Policy under President Biden; and UK Economic Diplomacy in the 21st Century. Over 300 officials attended each of these.

The results speak for themselves. Three months following the training, 95% of students reported that they are better able to do their job. One learner said that: “This training course enabled me to more effectively brief the Chancellor on factors at play in our approach towards Japan.” The learning from training has been used to progress EU, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey trade negotiations, as well as negotiation with the World Trade Organisation. The change in delivery has also allowed those with busier schedules, who previously could not attend, to access learning and improve their knowledge.

It is hoped that an online platform for the programme will allow learners to share their learning and tailor the FCDO learning offer to those who need it most.

To learn more about the TPNF’s Expert Deep Dive Programme and how the team went about adapting it for virtual delivery, contact Michael Cotterall at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.