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Tax dept staff are HM's biggest e-learners

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HMRC staff took more than 615,000 e-learning courses last year...

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is making more use of e-learning than other departments, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

The document says the NAO estimates that HMRC spent £96m in 2010-11 developing the skills of its staff. Most training courses were manual based, but there was also a "significant" use of e-learning and less face-to-face classroom training than elsewhere in government.

Previous research, published in the NAO's report on Whitehall's skills requirements in July, found that in other departments more than twice as many delegate days are committed to the classroom as e-learning.

Figures in the NAO's latest report show that HMRC offered staff 359 face-to-face courses, 723 e-learning courses and 955 manual based courses. But the number of courses taken by staff in e-learning exceeded the other two types: 615,305 against 77,788 for manual-based courses and 37,493 in face-to-face.

The average number of staff on each course was 851 for e-learning, against 81 for manual based and 104 for face-to-face.

However, the NAO says that the department's online learning system, which it uses to monitor all training activity, is not used effectively. Data on informal learning, including coaching and mentoring, is not captured.

Overall, the report says that only 54 per cent of staff said that they were able to access the right learning and development opportunities when they needed to and only 38 per cent said that training had improved their performance.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "At the level of the business as a whole, HMRC has no strategy to manage the £96m it spends each year on skills.

"Although the department is doing much to make sure it has the skills it requires, it needs a more systematic approach, where spending on skills is linked explicitly to the organisation's overall business objectives and a vision of how it should look in the future."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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