‘La Poste’, France’s national postal operator was established in 1576 as the first formally commissioned postal service in Europe. La Poste is responsible for all national parcel and mail services in France’s 27 regions. In addition to mail services, the organisation now also provides banking services to 11.7 million customers.
In 2011, La Poste and its subsidiaries reported an €11.6 billion turnover. La Poste is the second largest postal carrier in Europe, behind only the German postal operator ‘Deutsche Post,’ and handles approximately 28.5 billion documents annually.
Due to the new competition rules introduced by the European Commission in relation to state bodies, La Poste has had to significantly reshape its business model to take account of new competitors entering the French postal market (as was the case in many other European Member States, La Poste previously maintained a state-wide monopoly for the delivery of all mail services in France). In accordance with the new competition laws, La Poste was listed as a public company on the French stock exchange on 23 March 2010.
To meet the specific needs of La Poste, ECDL France needed to understand as much as possible about La Poste: its staff; their working environment; the activities of the subsidiaries; and the vacancies that were being advertised by the company’s recruiters.
Delivery Details – the Initial Process
In August 2008, ECDL France received the first indication from La Poste that it would consider a proposal for the delivery of ECDL training and certification to its staff. At the same time as being introduced to ECDL, La Poste was being introduced to other competing certifications: MOS (Microsoft), and B2i and C2i (French Government ICT certifications). ECDL France was successful due to its comprehensive understanding of La Poste’s requirements, and due to the flexibility to tailor the delivery of the certification in areas of ICT that were immediately relevant to the millions of day-to-day transactions being carried out within La Poste’s administrative offices. ECDL France believes that a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s needs is paramount to the successful delivery of the programme.
Barriers to ECDL Implementation
Based on previous experiences of working with a large, heavily unionised, former state body, a cultural aversion to testing was expected from within the La Poste organisation. To counter this apprehension of being tested, the benefits of learning were promoted above and beyond the aspect of testing. Once candidates are confident that they are being trained in a comprehensive manner, and begin to be more confident with the various syllabus items, the issue of testing normally becomes a goal, rather than an obstacle.
Benefits of the ECDL Programme According to La Poste
- Sectoral benefits – public and private sectors, education sector
- Internationally recognised
- Vendor independence (Syllabus – Skills)
- Empowers individuals
Preliminary Results of the Project
The initial issue of candidate aversion to testing interestingly resulted in most candidates obtaining better results than they had expected. Also, La Poste’s ECDL graduates are very proud of achieving certification; staff discussions have begun to centre on the positive experience that they have had in the learning and certification process. ECDL France believes that a significant testing ‘taboo’ was broken - after the initial pilot was concluded, a degree of healthy competition developed among staff in relation to achieving ECDL certification. To date, almost 1,000 La Poste candidates have completed the ECDL Start programme. While this is not an immense number of candidates in a two-year period, this project represents a triumph against the many issues that large commercial projects face, particularly those in relation to efforts to train/educate staff. In this respect, ECDL France took the following lessons from their experiences with La Poste:
- Meeting the specific needs of a large company is possible
- The ECDL programme is often chosen because it is less expensive and more scalable than many other certifications
- Testing aversions within staff can be overcome using a high profile pilot, and by focusing on building candidates’ confidence
- assessment of the general capacity of staff at this point is also possible
- Remaining focused on the customer’s changing market and working environment is a crucial component of a project’s success