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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a custodian of the Geneva Convention. With an operational budget of €1.75bn for 2017, they respond whenever people are affected by armed conflict or disasters in conflict zones. For the past five years, the ICRC has been transforming the way it designs and delivers critical training to its 17,000 staff, in order to effectively and rapidly deploy its humanitarian services. Such responsiveness depends in large part on how quickly their staff in the field can be brought to full proficiency, making effective Onboarding critical. It is also important that their Onboarding Program reflect the unique realities of the ICRC “workplace”.

The ICRC has been through a five-year transformation in how it designs and delivers the training needed to rapidly deploy its humanitarian services. Most recently, in partnership with CrossKnowledge, the ICRC has accelerated its evolution into a 21st century learning organization with a next-generation portal, iLearn, that makes targeted, learner-centric training available to all of its 17,000 staff.
The ICRC’s new Staff Integration Program (SIP) is a recent example of this approach. Created with CrossKnowledge, SIP is a blended learning experience that brings together mobile and resident field staff through a combination of distance, classroom and collaborative workplace learning activities in three phases:

  1. Online (5 weeks)
    • Self-assessment
    • Essential ICRC knowledge
    • Meet other participants
  2.  Face-to-face (8 days)
    • Reinforce online learning
    • Simulated operational experience
    • Prepare for the field.
  3. Work based learning (3 months)
    • Virtual practice exchanges
    • Virtual library
    • Digital toolkit

The ICRC has built a team of ‘techno-pedagogical engineers’ to help integrate digital learning in the classroom environment and deliver more distance learning in the field. This team guides every new project through the same stages: initiation, analysis, design, development and deployment. This accelerated the organization’s shift to 70% learning on the job, 20% learning from relationships, and 10% learning via formal development activities.

Staff can also access the CrossKnowledge Library to receive ‘transversal’ training in areas relevant to them, such as communication skills, personal development, and leadership. In addition, the ICRC can develop specialized content for its workforce using Mohive, a CrossKnowledge proprietary digital publishing platform.
Through this program, ICRC has rolled out 312 learning projects, totalizing 1000 learning sessions and 5653 active learners.

According to Doctor Feena May, Head of Learning and Development at ICRC, the 70:20:10 model helps making the training relevant to the situations the field staff actually faces.

To summarize, the ICRC onboarding experience has 3 goals:
1. Fast time to proficiency responding to emergency missions
2. Training accessible to new employees in a decentralized and growing organization
3. Individual and transversal onboarding program with learning elements relevant to professional needs