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Linda McQuarrie-Bowerman


I recently spent 11 weeks in Queanbeyan as a Trainer for the new IIEs hired on contract to work on EMS (Employment Services) call lines. The training program which spanned close to 6 weeks for each training intake was repetitive at times out of date. The Customer First Training Environment was not available to my trainees due to ongoing IT issues. Once the classroom training was over, the IIEs were expected to begin taking EMS calls with the assistance of floor walkers, of which I was one until 18/7/2018. The training was not supported by dual head setting with proficient EMS SOs because none exist in Canberra. Dual head setting was with FAO trained SOs so the IIEs could only use these sessions to try and become familiar with some of the many screens used on a daily basis and to listen to some customer interactions, albeit not in the payment line they would then be expected to work in. EMS is complicated work. Each call requires the SO to understand exactly what the customer's enquiry is and then navigate to all of the relevant screens that require viewing. This was not possible for the new IIEs who could not even take the most basic of call without floorwalker assistance. This is a direct result of expecting them to remember weeks of theory without a full understanding of what their roles actually are in the context of DHS work. This is the result of not having their training staggered so that they learned it in stages and had the time to take live calls with limited skill tags and then be taken back to the training environment to progress further. Anyone within the DHS who was instrumental in developing this training with the mistaken belief that it would result in IIEs proficient enough to be taking such calls and delivering quality service has made a grave error in judgement. I saw the result of this, coupled with the appointment of team leaders with no EMS experience and whose legitimacy as a 'team leader' is not only highly questionable, it smacks of a deep lack of duty of care to the new SOs. I am already aware of a number of IIEs who are actively seeking work outside the DHS and that is only after being employed for a brief period of time. It takes time to be proficient in EMS. It is not possible to create effective IIEs in EMS without general layer training. This is not an effective or well thought out way to reduce call centre phone queues or guarantee quality end to end servicing for such complex work. I would very much doubt if any experienced EMS staff were consulted during the planning of this training. If they were, than they also would have a lot to answer for. The process has been an ineffective knee jerk reaction to customer frustration. The new IIEs will now have to struggle along the best they can and the DHS can expect a high attrition rate in the very near future.