Innovative product development
This project has largely focused on the development of an innovative product capable of identifying hidden competences within the workforce. This will clearly be a useful training and development and management tool by employers. The project team is satisfied with the technical work that has been achieved and, in addition, the product interactive toolkit has been highly rated by ECOTEC. The college has also developed its technical skill base as a result of working on this project.
Partnership building and engagement with SMEs
The development and delivery of this project has enabled North Devon College to become more engaged with the SME community and has enabled it to develop a different service that it can then offer in the market place. As such it has helped to change the approach that the college takes to delivering workforce development provision. The college appears more commercially minded as a result of the promotion and marketing of this product to three significant sectors in the South West region. The college has sought to engage with a wide variety of organisations and has established a partnership of considerable strength and scope. From discussions with some employers it is evident that the toolkit has had a positive impact on performance by changing the role of some employees. However, it is too early to see the impact on the participating employers’ bottom line.
Role of toolkit in workforce development
There is a real opportunity for the Skills Analysis toolkit to be developed as an aid to raising the profile of the development of the workforce as a key business driver. There must be a strong emphasis on the benefits and advantages to organisations that structured workforce development can bring. This could be achieved by reviewing past interventions with key SMEs to identify good practice and to target this with other employers. Analysing employees’ latent skills clearly improves their employability by identifying a wider range of employment options and training potential. It is imperative, however, that the toolkit developed for the open market presents workforce development and releasing latent skills in the context of wider business strategy. If the benefits of the interactive toolkit as a business support tool are not clear, then employers are unlikely to see it's relevance to them.
There is a need for specific workforce development support to meet the needs of individual companies. The toolkit developed out of the Skills Analysis project will need to be used in conjunction with other activities, such as recruitment and selection policy, organisational and individual development, staff appraisal/360 degree feedback, and management skills audit.
Key future applications
There remains a need for further market testing to determine the commercial need for and interest in the toolkit and how it could be developed for different markets (e.g. targeting unemployed people of all ages, those in the process of being made redundant, people looking to make a significant career change).
One important group of employers to concentrate on in developing and marketing the interactive toolkit is those with employees in transition and/or engagned in temporary work. The employment of temporary staff presents a clear opportunity for using the interactive toolkit for managing transitions into and out of work, education and training. There are 3 million active temporary workers in the EU on any one day, with some 7 million in transitional employment each year. Employees in transition are an ideal target for the assessment of hidden competences; since many of these temporary staff will be economic migrants, an online ESOL skills development module should be built into any toolkit developed for the mass marketplace.
Large public sector organisations
The interactive toolkit has the potential to interest large public sector organisations such as the armed forces (as a resettlement application), the fire service and the police. Other potential customers or partners are Jobcentre Plus, commercial employment agencies and local authorities, all of which are increasingly facing problems as a result of an ageing workforce and the shortage of young people looking for employment. These organisations would all provide an ideal opportunity to trial the toolkit on a wider basis and assess how it could be adapted to make it more appropriate to their needs.