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INTERVIEW Charles spotlight on


Charles Jennings, champion of the 70:20:10 model, on what matters most to him in life and learning


photography by Paul Heartfield C


harles Jennings has had a passion for finding better ways to support learning


and performance improvement throughout his entire career. He started out teaching physiology


and life sciences until his own life was changed by the emergence of the first personal computers in the mid-to-late 1970s. Initially using home-built computers and then the ZX80 (developed by Clive Sinclair’s company) he incorporated technology into his physiology teaching in 1981. Tis interest in technology led to managing the UK Further and Higher Education PRESTEL database for sci- ence and health, and then to becoming the head of the UK National Centre for Network-based Learning, located in Southampton Business School. He made the move from academic


to corporate life in the mid-1990s having helped the Business School develop and launch the world’s first pure online MBA. His corporate career led him to become the chief learning officer at Reuters, the global information company, where he created a strategy based on the 70:20:10 model.


6 | December 2016 |


Tis moved the company from a singular reliance on training to using methods to embed learning into daily working practices. Te credo at the time was ‘from event-based learning to continuous learning’. Charles retired from Tomson Reu- ters at the end of 2008 and currently advises and supports organisations wanting to apply 70:20:10 principles. Recently, together with two colleagues, he established the 70:20:10 Institute and co-authored a major book about implementing the 70:20:10 model.


Why training and how did you start?


I started teaching and tutoring in Higher Education almost straight after my undergraduate degree. In the 1960s the School of Biological Sciences at Sydney University decided to use technology to replace live teaching so it could cater for the large number of first-year science, medicine, veterinary and other students. I’d been through the system and was very impressed. Tat spark started me on a career


in education and learning, and a fascination with the opportunities technology can bring. Since then I’ve


worked in teaching and learning across every sector – school, FE, university and corporate education. I ran the UK National Centre for Network-based Learning in the 1990s then moved into corporate L&D to become a chief learning officer. It’s been a very interesting and satisfying journey so far.


Who or what inspires you?


I’m inspired by people with vision who are prepared to swim against the tide to help make things better. Over the years, I’ve met some very inspiring leaders, and some great HR directors and senior L&D people, who really ‘get’ the benefits of working to create cultures of continuous learning and who see beyond the ‘course mindset’. Unfortunately, still only a minority manage to turn the 250,000-tonne tanker that is the training industry around in their organisations. People who inspire me see beyond


what I call the ‘skills fiction’. We know people need to develop the right skills if they are to perform to the best of their ability, but skills are the starting point, not the end. Te polymath Buckminster Fuller once observed


Jennings  @TrainingJournal


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