20 September 2007 | Antony Barton
British Airways is to begin its first professional procurement training programme for almost a decade.
Around 20 of the 100-strong procurement team will next month begin a three-year MCIPS study programme with the National School of Government. Another 60 will be given the opportunity to begin continuous professional development in conjunction with CIPS.
Tim Richardson, BA's general manager of procurement operations, told SM the training is long overdue: "We've put a lot of effort and money into our processes and technology in procurement, but we've probably underinvested in our people. We've come from a period where, because of BA's financial difficulties over the past decade, we haven't offered professional study for seven years."
Richardson said that BA previously wasn't prepared to sponsor any form of professional qualification, other than aircraft engineering or accountancy training, where there was a legislative requirement. From now on, CIPS training for new buyers will be "positively encouraged".
As part of a wider initiative, BA this month signed up with Berkshire Consultancy Limited to help design and introduce its Managing Supplier Relationships Programme.
It will see more than a thousand BA staff with responsibility for managing supplier contracts across the globe attending workshops to develop skills for beneficial supplier relationships.
Richardson said: "BA felt people in operational departments needed to be better equipped in the basics of how to handle suppliers - knowing who the contacts are, how regularly to meet them and how to minute agreements - matters that aren't necessarily being done as consistently as they should be."