BBC staff in two-day courses on phone use

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The BBC is sending its managers to hotels for two-day training breaks to teach them how to use a new telephone system, it emerged yesterday.

But the corporation insists that the project will actually save licence payers' money.

Over the past two years the BBC has been paying Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson thousands of pounds a week for training sessions on how to use the new phones.

Managers throughout the corporation have been allocated two-day training trips to help them get to grips with the system. So far 50 managers have been sent for training. The most recent group stayed at the Queens Hotel in Brighton, Sussex.

Other staff receive in-house telephone training at the BBC which is also provided by Ericsson.

A BBC spokesman said the training contract agreed with the telecommunications firm was a long-term investment.

"BBC accountants calculated the cost of employing Ericsson to run the telephone network and compared this figure with the cost of training their own managers to operate the system. They estimated that training, though expensive, would mean savings in the future," he said.

He insisted that the 50 managers who had received training already were "not simply being taught how to dial and answer the telephone".

"They are learning how to work the computers which operate the telephone system. They should then be able to train their own staff, and thus save licence payers further money."