The Development Company UK Ltd (trading as DCo.) is a learning & development consultancy based in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The company delivers internationally and have worked with companies across Asia, America, Europe, and Africa. Founded 25 years ago, they saw that the industry was underperforming and aimed to fill that gap with high quality, bespoke learning and development provision that delivered the highest levels of learner engagement. 

The Development Company’s focus is to get to the point of difference through positive disruption. Real growth in people doesn’t happen on an effective level without stretch and in their experience, revelations occur in personal development through respectful honesty, and on occasion, even disagreement. 

Interview with Rebecca Hopkins, Learning and Development Specialist at The Development Company UK Ltd.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company? 

Rebecca Hopkins: DCo, a bespoke learning and development company, typically focuses on the following main areas of activity:

Consulting Services: 

We act as trusted advisers to organisations, supporting and assisting them to develop impactful learning and development strategies that meet their current challenges and targets. 

This includes supporting a variety of organisational development initiatives as well as faciliating organisational change and development through targeted learning interventions.  We also identify performance gaps for companies or teams and design solutions that are focused on performance improvement.  

Customised Development Programmes:

These take many formats to cover a range of soft skill development. These are targeted at different learner levels and/or specific roles.  They are designed and delivered across all sectors and can be face-to-face and/or virtual and of any duration including residential programmes.  Examples of this activity is provision of development programmes for the following groups:  

Leaders, managers, supervisors, sales staff, engineers, legal and financial roles, charitable sector fundraising teams, graduates, apprentices, mentors, coaches etc. 

Content Development: 

DCo design bespoke initiatives and have a design and development function that creates engaging and effective learning materials tailored to specific learning outcomes including experiential development, multimedia content and interactive simulations for enhanced learning experiences. 

Development may be targeted in one or a number of areas such as: communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, performance management, leading change, personal brand and confidence, collaboration, psychological safety, high functioning teams, having difficult conversations. 

Provision of Facilitation, Keynote Speaking and Workshops: 

These in-person events meet the specific needs of organisations and are focused on the subjects relevant to an event or requirement.  Workshops are also virtual sessions to reach remote employees or those located across geographically different areas. 

Assessment and Evaluation: 

We assess and evaluate skill levels, provide psychometrics, support professional development and recruitment processes. 

This includes objectively measuring the current behaviours and competence levels of employees using Development Centre processes and providing tailored development plans and programmes to increase performance levels that align with competencies required by the organisation.  In addition we design and faciliate Assessment Centres for the objective selection of staff against competencies. We provide psychometric testing to support a range of employee development initiatives including executive coaching of leaders and team development. DCo conduct evaluation of the effectiveness of services including measuring the impact and effectiveness of programmes to ensure they meet agreed organisational objectives. 

E.E: What’s the news about new products/services? 

R.H: In addition to challenging our industry with bespoke services, we also offer the chance for organisations to design their own team events at our residential facility in Newgale, Pembrokeshire.

E.E: What are the ranges of products/services?

R.H: Dco provide bespoke learning and development services to organisations across five key service streams: 

  • Development Programmes
  • Executive Coaching Sessions
  • Development and Assessment Centres
  • Psychometric Assessment & 360 Feedback Processes
  • Facilitation and Keynote Speaking

The services we provide are bespoke so are tailored to specific work levels or roles. The format, content and duration are designed to aligned with specific business need and we host residential events and programmes at our dedicated learning facility in Pembrokeshire. Newgale Lodge is a space for teams and large groups to stay and learn together and is used for management, graduate, apprentice and team development. 

E.E: What is the state of the market where you are currently active? 

R.H: Dco operate in the field of Learning and Development and the market is always dynamic and evolving. It is driven by economic factors, changing workplace models and trends, technological advancements and emerging requirements for employee development and retention. Currently the L&D market is growing and transforming as the business world is itself navigating a complex and dynamic environment marked mainly by economic volatility and shifting consumer and workforce expectations. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? 

R.H: Recent years have been full of the greatest changes and challenges within businesses as many have had to pivot to initially manage the impact of social distancing regulations and there have been many consequences of this period for businesses.  It has in particular emphasised the importance of organisational and team culture, the need for investment in employee development for both skills and engagement, wellbeing and psychological safety and flexibility. The readiness of early careers employees for the transition to work from education is also a factor that some industries are seeking to address as there are notable skills gaps evident in this population compared to pre-pandemic populations. 

E.E: What are the most innovative products/services marketed? 

R.H: DCo constantly evolve the products within the services we provide. A sample of our newest initiatives being marketed in 2024 include: 

  • Reverse Mentoring Skills 
  • Professional Confidence and Managing Imposter Syndrome 
  • Leading a Psychologically Safe Culture 
  • Holding Difficult Conversations 
  • Developing Junior Talent and Stretching Performance 
  • Transition to Work Skills for Early Careers 
  • Team Functioning – 5 Behaviours of a Cohesive Team 
  • Emotional Intelligence for Leadership 

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2024? 

R.H: Our estimations for trends in learning and development for this year and into next are around an increased demand for personalised learning paths tailored to changing roles, skills and hybrid working set ups.

Soft skills development will remain a top priority across sectors and the need for communication, collaboration, leadership and effective management will still remain relevant alongside resilience and adaptability as work environments and market conditions continue to evolve.

Pipelines for talent will be a priority in a lot of industries and identifying future talent potential as well as investment in management, leadership, coaching and mentoring skills to build competent pipelines and retain talent for effective succession planning.

Employee well-being will remain an essential aspect of support and learning and development strategies that address supporting individuals with balance, stress management and personal effectiveness within a psychologically safe culture will all be relevant in 2024. 

Tackling training fatigue is another emerging trend and DCo estimates that this will perhaps be the most decisive factor in how learning and development is sourced by organisations in 2024 and beyond.

Many remote workers are increasingly disengaged with formulaic learning programme formats or traditional virtual presentation style training.  The need for human-centred design and a format that is positively disruptive will become more important.  This will both engage individuals and create a sustainable change in their attitude, skills and behaviours which will be crucial to the success of learning and development initiatives this year.  It will no longer be acceptable for organisations to just tick the boxes for providing learning opportunities.  Expectations of employees have shifted as well.  Businesses will need to meet their employee’s needs differently in order to address their organisational priorities, and this means providing outcome-focused training that pushes learners outside of normal expectations and comfort zones to achieve real change.