Nancy Cavill meets Dr Jaz Saggu, the man in charge of Bovis' new best-practice training programme.
Bovis has come up with a way to spread best practice around the company and give its employees the chance to gain a qualification while they’re at it. The initiative is called the Bovis Self Development Programme and will be launched next week by Sir Frank Lampl.

What is the Self Development Programme?

A distance learning programme designed to introduce new employees to the company and help them learn about best practice the Bovis way. The system is also aimed at existing staff, who can work through the modules to gain a qualification or simply brush up on skills.

Whose idea was the programme?

I was brought in to run it and I report directly to the main board and Bovis chairman Sir Frank Lampl. It’s his vision.

How does it work?

Staff will be able to choose to complete one or more of the 18 modules. All new staff will have to complete the induction module –this is a way of establishing a global level of competence within the company.

Each member of staff who signs up for a module is allocated a supervisor or mentor. They have to read the information contained in each module – this comes on paper or CD-ROM – and complete exercises. They bring these to their mentor, who goes through their work to make sure they understand it. The idea is for staff to absorb the knowledge we have collated and to apply it in their jobs.

How can staff gain a qualification under the scheme?

Middlesex University’s School of Lifelong Learning and Education will assess assignments and award a certain number of credits for each module. These credits can be collected and put towards a qualification. Depending on how many modules they complete and how many credits they build up, staff could gain a postgraduate diploma or an MSc from the university.

How did the scheme come about?

We realised that every time one of our staff works on a job, they generate knowledge on how best to do a particular task, what works and what does not – effectively best-practice information. Some of Bovis’ leading project managers have been doing this for years but the information has never been formally collated.

  We decided we wanted to capture this knowledge – we had contributions from about 30 directors and country managers all over the world – and put it in writing.

This now forms the basis of the distance learning course.

Do staff have to take exams?

No, there are no exams because when you come to work, exams don’t mean much. The idea is to gain practical knowledge.

Do staff have to pay if they want to get a postgraduate qualification?

Staff who want to take enough courses to gain an MSc pay a fee of about £2500, which is less than the university’s standard fees for this type of course. They can take up to five years to get their qualification.

Can staff outside the UK use the credits?

A number of universities around the world use a credit system, so staff can transfer credits to a local university that operates the system and put them towards a degree in their home country.

Have any staff signed up for courses already?

So far, about 300 have decided to do one module or more.