L&D Best Practices: Strategies for Success (Jan/Feb 2019)

Training magazine taps 2019 Training Top 125 winners and Top 10 Hall of Famers to provide their learning and development best practices in each issue. Here, we look at how the Detective Training Centre of Hong Kong Police College modernizes detective training and how Vi cultivates talent outside the organization.


By Detective Training Centre of Hong Kong Police College

The Detective Training Centre (DTC) of Hong Kong Police College (Police College) is the principal training agency for criminal investigation of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF). It started out in 1970 to provide basic yet fundamental investigation training to aspiring detectives. Each year, we provide different investigation courses for up to 2,600 police officers and those from other government agencies with varying levels of experience.

Training Strategy

DTC aligns its training objectives with HKPF’s strategic directions and operational priorities, as well as Police College’s training strategies:

  • Train and develop officers to maintain and enhance the organizational competence of HKPF
  • Build strategic partnerships to strengthen the organizational capacity of HKPF
  • Leverage technology to expand training opportunities and optimize learning outcomes
  • Embed knowledge management as part of the HKPF culture
  • Develop organizational learning capability of HKPF to embrace the future

To strive for continuous improvement in training quality, DTC took the initiative to seek professional accreditation for its Standard Criminal Investigation Course (SCIC) under Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF) in 2016. We also explored the use of learning technologies to maximize our training efficiency.

Professional Accreditation for SCIC

In 2014, Police College was accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) to operate accredited foundation training programs under QF at Levels 4 (equivalent to an Associate’s degree or higher diploma) and 5 (equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree) for Recruit Police Constables and Probationary Inspectors. These offerings were the first of their kind besides tertiary institutions or professional bodies. Riding on this success, DTC went through the rigorous accreditation process by HKCAAVQ in 2016 and acquired HKQF’s accreditation for six Standard Criminal Investigation Course (SCIC) programs.

For officers who passed the course phase of SCIC:

  • Professional Certificate in Standard Criminal Investigation (Leadership and Management) for Inspectors (QF Level 5) [QR No.: 16/000016/L5]
  • Professional Certificate in Standard Criminal Investigation (Supervisory Management) for Sergeants (QF Level 4) [QR No.: 16/000018/L4]
  • Professional Certificate in Standard Criminal Investigation for Police Constables (QF Level 4) [QR No.: 16/000020/L4]

For officers who completed the Workplace Learning phase of SCIC:

  • Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management in Policing (Criminal Investigation) for Inspectors (QF Level 5) [QR No.: 16/000015/L5]
  • Advanced Diploma in Supervisory Management in Policing (Criminal Investigation) for Sergeants (QF Level 4) [QR No.: 16/000017/L4]
  • Advanced Diploma in Policing (Criminal Investigation) for Police Constables (QF Level 4) [QR No.: 16/000019/L4]

Our detectives began their career by completing SCIC, which is under constant review in accordance with Police College’s Quality Assurance Mechanism (QAM) to meet day-to-day policing challenges. The eight-week SCIC focuses on coursework and team-based practical assessments to equip new detectives with the competency to handle criminal investigations. All trainees agreed the course content, coverage, and training methodology were useful and practical. Based on average course evaluation results of four courses in fiscal year 2016/2017, more than 97 percent of the trainees found the practical exercise useful and agreed the course had equipped them with skills and knowledge required for front-line investigative work.

The independent accreditation process significantly enhanced SCIC’s training quality and the job performance of its graduates. Since our accreditation in 2016, we have introduced a 9- to 12-month post-course Workplace Learning (WPL) phase to further enhance the practicability of the course and officers’ academic qualifications. All front-line supervisors of the inspectorate and sergeant trainees agreed that leadership, supervisory accountability, planning, and execution improved after completing the Workplace Learning phase (based on the course evaluation results of the first complete course after accreditation ended in June 2017).

The Police College now operates nine HKCAAQV accredited programs ranging from QF Level 4 to Level 6 (equivalent to a Master’s degree), which provide the basis for our articulation arrangements with one overseas and five local tertiary institutions (including the Charles Sturt University in Australia and the University of Hong Kong, The City University of Hong Kong, The Open University of Hong Kong, the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE), the School of Continuing and Professional Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUSCS). Officers completing the accredited programs, including SCIC graduates, may accumulate or transfer credits when they pursue designated postgraduate, Bachelor’s, or Associate’s degrees with these institutions. The Police College will continue to expand collaboration opportunities to guide our officers in pursuing life-long learning goals.

Maximizing Training Efficiency

To further enhance our training capability, DTC developed two technology-enhanced training systems in collaboration with the Learning Technologies Division (LTD) of Police College, the Hong Kong Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Centre (LSCM), and the University of Hong Kong (HKU):

Detective Tour: Detective Tour (D-Tour) is a scenario-based system developed by LTD to run a one-way simulated crime exercise. Our instructors run D-Tour to strengthen trainees’ judgment without the spatial and physical limitations of set-up scenes. Five storyboards were designed to simulate serious crime scenes, including Robbery, Rape, Kidnap, Homicide, and Chain Burglary. The system first was incorporated into SCIC in 2011 and eventually extended to other courses.

The scenarios also can be made available on our intranet to extend their applicability to remote learning from offices. Different levels of trainees gave an average of 95 percent satisfaction rating in the post-exercise critique. In March 2012, D-Tour won the Bronze Prize in Hong Kong Information Communication and Technology Award, which recognized our efforts in leveraging training technologies.

Detective Boulevard: Another interactive training tool, Detective Boulevard (DB), is the joint venture between DTC, LSCM, and HKU. Instructors guide trainees through the characteristics of crime scenes visualized in vivid immersive 3-D images delivered via virtual reality (VR) headsets. Launched in 2016, DB was developed in three phases:

  • DB 1.0: Featuring burglary and criminal damage scenarios modified from real cases, one trainee can be accommodated per session. It was introduced to inspector training to hone scene appreciation and judgment.
  • DB 2.0: Sub-systems were added to expand the training capacity to five per session, allowing leadership and teamwork training among different detective ranks.
  • DB 3.0 (in progress): Training experience and capacity will be increased further with 360-degree video recording and VR-One backpack computer sets. New 360-degree scenarios will be introduced.

The current DB 2.0 earned a 90 percent satisfaction rate upon launch, according to the post-exercise critique in August 2017 from 157 trainees from PC to Inspectorate. DB also set another milestone in DTC’s development by winning the Gold Award for “Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology” in Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award Program in 2017.

Contributing Factors to Success

DTC is devoted to equipping detectives with the right attitude, skills, and knowledge so they can competently perform and serve the community. Seeking accreditation and leveraging technologies have been two critical steps to modernize our training to ensure high-quality detective work, as reflected from the rise in overall detection rate from 43.6 percent in 2012 to 48.2 percent in 2017, and a 38.8 percent reduction in crime investigation-related complaints from 1,016 cases in 2014 to 622 cases in 2017.

We owe our success to ongoing management support and involvement in continuous improvement. Internally, a robust Quality Assurance Mechanism (QAM) is our cornerstone for securing the accreditation status. Externally, collaboration with our strategic partners is an intrinsic part of making our success: front-line management whose regular feedback is of paramount importance to our program review; technology experts in LTD, LCSM, and HKU who have assisted in leveraging technologies in training; and local and overseas universities that not only recognize our accredited courses, but also offer favorable credit articulation and transfer to our courses.

Looking forward to 2020, DTC will continue to strive for excellence via another cycle of reaccreditation and develop new learning technologies to support detective training.


By Judy Whitcomb, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Learning, Vi

Learning leaders are continually challenged to meet the changing needs of their internal learners and business partners. There’s a constant need to evaluate and balance learner needs and prioritize learning and development programs that drive meaningful business results. With unemployment at a 30-year low, many organizations are struggling with attracting and retaining talent. Immediately and in the many years to come, chief learning and talent officers will need to shift their focus from cultivating talent internally to developing and executing on strategies externally. 

While many organizations may have strategies and resources dedicated to college campus or trade school recruitment, a new focus of developing a talent pipeline through high school relationships and apprenticeships is essential. There is value in exposing high school students to career pathing and/or apprenticeship programs early on as there is a potential to combine work-based, on-the-job learning with relevant technical education in the classroom. Students who participate in these programs may graduate with a high school diploma, real work experience, and, in some cases, earn college credits and industry credentials. They also start on a career path that continues after high school graduation—whether that is a continuation of their employment, along with college, college only, apprenticeship only, or other full-time employment. 

Leading With Strength

Serving the senior living industry by providing high-quality environments, services, and programs to enrich the lives of older adults in the company’s continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), Vi invests heavily in talent development with the goal of leveraging its commitment to learning as part of the company’s value proposition to attract and retain talent. In fact, many of Vi’s leaders joined the company in high school and have taken advantage of the company’s front-line Management Development Program, tuition reimbursement program, and certification programs to pursue careers in hospitality, nursing, or general management. Nonetheless, with the growing challenges of hiring hospitality and health-care talent, Vi has shifted efforts and strategies to cultivate high school students’ interest in health-care and hospitality careers by leveraging and refining Vi’s strengths in learning and organizational development.

Why Was This Shift Necessary?

As the population in the United States ages, the senior living industry will add nearly 350,000 jobs by 2025 and senior living employment will exceed 1.1 million, according to Argentum, the nation’s largest association representing professionally managed senior living communities. To meet these needs, Argentum states the senior living industry will need to recruit 1.2 million new employees by 2025. And this is just one segment of the health-care industry. According to the Work Institute, the health-care industry employs more than 12 percent of the U.S. workforce, and for every available health-care worker, there are two open health-care jobs. Additionally, Vi competes heavily for culinary and dining services professionals to serve Vi’s residents. With 14 million U.S. restaurant workers, there are simply not enough applicants to fill jobs.

Strategies Leveraged

Working with Vi’s culinary and nursing teams, Vi developed career ladders for culinary and entry-level nursing positions. Vi’s career ladder allows existing employees to drive their own career path by achieving specific skills through company-sponsored training programs and mentoring. An employee’s ability to progress through the career ladder is not limited to an open position—rather achievement of defined and demonstrated skills by role. Vi’s career ladder alongside the company’s Management Development Program and tuition reimbursement program provides Vi the value proposition necessary to be potentially relevant to high school students. In the first 120 days of Vi’s culinary and certified nursing assistant (CNA) career ladder, 15 percent of Vi’s eligible culinary team members achieved learning and competency requirements to progress through the career ladder, and 16 percent of Vi’s CNAs met qualification to progress. Already, Vi has seen a reduction in CNA part-time and full-time turnover from 16 percent to 10 percent year-over-year.

Additionally, to cultivate high school talent, Vi created a specific career page and recruitment materials, which not only paint a clear picture of career paths at Vi, but also spark interest in the meaningful work of making a difference in the lives of older adults. Vi intends to expand community outreach to high schools and continue pursuit of apprenticeship programs.

Importance of Partnerships

With the growing labor shortages, chief learning and talent officers do not need to tackle these challenges alone. They can, and should, leverage professional organizations and associations.

Vi joined Argentum’s recently launched “Senior Living Works” initiative, along with other senior living organizations. Senior Living Works is designed to support recruitment, retention, and training needed across the senior living industry—also known as “Careers in Caring.” The initial launch of Senior Living Works included a Website and a Recruitment Engagement Toolkit, with a range of resources to support connections with high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and universities (https://seniorliving.works/)

Talent leaders also should consider organizations such as the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with more than 40 years of experience in workforce learning, including 30 years of experience working directly with employers of all sizes across multiple industries to create and deliver effective talent management strategies. From developing best-in-class career pathing software, to creating career and education advising programs for employees and targeted consulting, CAEL works with leading companies across all industries to help them maximize their investments in learning and talent management for their entire talent pipeline. CAEL has worked directly with employers to plan and deliver innovative and impactful learning and talent management strategies that target all employees—including the front-line and mid-level workforce. Companies use CAEL’s services to recruit, retain, and engage their employees, and ultimately benefit from a pipeline of “right-fit” workers prepared to support their growth strategies (https://www.cael.org/)

Collaboration Is More Important Than Ever

We’re at the intersection of talent acquisition and talent development. While many Learning leaders have developed leading learning solutions to increase productivity and sales, decrease expenses and accidents, improve quality, and/or develop leaders, it’s clear the labor shortage isn’t going away anytime soon. Collaboration between an organization’s chief talent acquisition and Learning leaders alongside their business partners is now more important than ever to cultivate and develop talent.