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QDF projects

Selected IAG partnerships carried out QDF (Quality Development Funding) projects. An IAG manager raised the question of how the resulting findings might be shared. Recognising that it is not always easy to locate these reports, a selection have been added here. Another reason why these reports are given in some detail is because practitioners may be interested in how the projects were devised and implemented.



QDF Project on Value of Guidance for Adults

IAG Evaluation Strategy

Report submitted by Diane McAdam The West of England IAG Partnership have developed an evaluation strategy that may be of wider interest, including other IAG partnerships and related organisations wishing to compare and contrast strategy and findings.
Evaluation Priority One

To ensure provision of a co-ordinated local network of information advice and guidance on opportunities for learning and work.

Evaluation Priority Two

To ensure that all members of the community, with no upper age limit, have access to information and advice, which are available free of charge, with particular attention given to the needs of the most disadvantaged clients.

Evaluation Priority Three

To ensure information, advice and guidance services meet the relevant qualirty standards for learning and work.

Evaluation Priority Four

To work with the LSC to ensure coherence between local information, advice and guidance services and other related services. Assessment of the effectiveness of current local working arrangements between the Partnership and other related services.

Evaluation Priority Five

IAG Partnerships should have in place a marketing strategy as marketing and promotion of local IAG Services is key to raising client awareness of Information, Advice and Guidance services on offer and how to access them.

Additional activities

Assessment of effectiveness of referral policies and procedures in enabling access to appropriate IAG services, through gathering feedback on client satisfaction with incoming Referrals (and where possible outgoing) as part of client feedback mechanisms
Assessment of the effectiveness of the database / directory as a referral tool through gathering member views through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: level of usage, ease of operation, usefulness of information, future improvements.

IAG Evaluation Strategy - evaluation priorities

More detail on the five evaluation priorities.
Evaluation Priority One

Evaluation of effectiveness of the management, operation and promotion of the Network in meeting this objective through:

Semi-structured interviews with a sample of Network Reps and frontline staff from member organisations and representatives from the strategic groups (e.g., Learning Partnerships and Sub-Groups,) and postal questionnaire to others. Include summary of improvements as a result of last year’s base survey. Measures will include: reasons/cost/benefits/problems with involvement in the Network, achievement of their objectives, future improvements, ideas for future direction/activities, communication, relationships with partners, effectiveness of Network Steering Group, perception of impact of Network on co-ordinating IAG Services, and integrating IAG into lifelong learning developments
Develop case studies profiling how IAG has supported 15 member organisations to develop their IAG services
Develop case studies profiling the business benefits of IAG in the workplace
Develop a system (linked to national criteria, as they develop) to measure the impact the Partnership is having on building the capacity of member organizations to deliver IAG services – to include levels of delivery, ability to be self-supporting, involvement in training/quality: 30 interviews; 60 questionnaires; 15 case studies; 8 employer case studies
Analysis of findings and recommendations
Evaluation Priority Two

Assessment of expansion/targeting of IAG services to meet client need as identified in the Business Plan and identifying any gaps in provision/usage to inform business planning

Gather and analyse MI stats (according to LSC requirements) to assess penetration of services to priority groups.
Develop and implement a system for monitoring information sessions at unmediated and mediated sites
Develop and agree a protocol for gathering MI stats from organisations not currently funded for delivery, but supported either in past years or via current training and resources
Update IAG database/directory to build picture of current provision and capacity
Research up to date LMI and community profiles to identify current priority client groups
Assessment of level of client satisfaction with I&A services funded by the Partnership

Revise self assessment process for members funded for delivery to be implemented across Partnership for 2003/04 grant allocation process (include summary of client feedback analysis)
Develop client cases studies which include feedback about the service (linked to national database)
Assessment of the impact on client lives of the I&A services funded by the Partnership

Gather data to assess impact through including questions in the LSC Household Survey
Develop client case studies which demonstrate impact of services
Analysis of the effectiveness of Partnership in reaching priority groups (System implemented; Protocol developed; Basic Info session’s data gathered; Updated database/directory of IAG services; Priority groups for 2003/04 and identified gaps in provision; Self-assessment process revised; 15 case studies; Initial indication of impact
15 case studies; Gathering data ongoing; and Analysis)
Devise a framework for impact assessment for all members (especially those with Funding Agreements) including evidence-based practice – ideas for methods include: focus groups, video box, taped interviews, pen pictures, snapshotting, training for members on evaluation methods
Contribute to a major HE led proposal for funding to enable assessment of IAG interventions on clients lives
Assessment of effectiveness of referral policies and procedures in enabling access to appropriate IAG services, through:

Gather and analyse data on destination and volumes of outgoing referrals
Gather member’s views on Referrals process as part of semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire with members (as for Objective ‘1’ above).
Undertake review of Referrals Policy and Procedures using data gathered through methods 1-3 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Evaluation Priority Three

Assessment of continuing effectiveness of the Partnership’s approach to supporting Member organisations to achieve and maintain accreditation

Monitor members progress through Action Plans towards achieving and maintaining accreditation
Gather Member’s views on the support available from the Partnership as part of the Member’s Survey (see Objective 1 above). Measures will include: level of uptake of workshops / 1:1 consultancy and reasons identified, level of satisfaction with support, future improvements
Undertake a review of Quality Standards support, using data gathered through methods 1-2 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Assessment of the effectiveness of Training and Development activities facilitated by the Partnership in contributing to Quality Standards accreditation and supporting Organisations to develop their IAG services

Research T&D needs
Devise and implement a standard evaluation process for all T&D sessions to assist analysis of feedback
Gather participants views on T&D sessions through evaluation sheets
Gather participants views on accredited T&D programmes through:
Session evaluation sheets; Interim review (questionnaire followed by group discussion); End of Programme reviews (postal questionnaire to participants and line managers). Measures will include: assessment of learning process, achievement of objectives, trainee satisfaction, qualifications gained, contribution to improving IAG services
Undertake a review of T&D support using data gathered through methods 1-4 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Evaluation Priority Four

Assessment of the effectiveness of current local working arrangements between the Partnership and other related services

Research and evaluate current working arrangements to identify transferable good practice.
Gather views of Partnership Members and representatives from related services through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: communication and relationship with Network members, perception of impact of working arrangements in building coherence between services and future improvements
Devise a framework for gathering data, on demand for learning, as part of monitoring of I&A delivery to highlight gaps in learning provision, to inform LSC – Community Learning Service
Evaluation Priority Five

Assessment of the Partnership approach to raising its profile amongst Member, potential member and other partner organisations

Monitor expansion of the Partnership against identified target potential members
Undertake research to establish the level of integration of IAG within the strategic and development plans of related services / partner organisations
Gather views of Partnership Members and representatives from related services through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: perception of the purpose and value of the Partnership in supporting them to achieve their organisation’s objectives
Assessment of the Partnership approach to raising its profile of Information Advice and Guidance amongst client groups

Gather data to assess awareness and uptake of IAG services by including questions in the LSC Household Survey
Analyse MI stats to identify uptake of services by target client groups and highlight gaps in uptake (see p2 a i)
Undertake a review of Marketing strategy in relation to both above objectives using data gathered through all above methods

Quality Development Fund Project - IAG in the Workplace

By Bob Carroll, West of England IAG Partnership
IAG in the Workplace

Quality Development Fund Project Report

April 2003

Attached are findings from West of England IAG partnership's research into IAG in the workplace. A study of IAG in context in different types of workplace backed-up by models and case studies. Engagement tactics, business arguments and potential impact explored so useful for those intending similar work. Links to basic skills and capacity to deliver IAG key findings in enhancing personal development in the workplace. Interim report as work continues.

The West of England Adult IAG Strategy 2006 - 2008 gives an update as to how IAG strategy has evolved and the role of IAG in the workplace.

Summary
“We knew there were going to be challenges. We were aware through contact with our Business Link colleagues that developing pro-active and professional relationships with local employers - whatever the size of business - requires patience and sensitivity. Each employer has to be seen individually, within the context of the internal HR pressures existing in each organisation. There can be no 'quick fix'. Above all, as IAG professionals, we have to be totally flexible in how we develop these links.” “It is, however, important to be aware that many employers are prepared to think positively, even enthusiastically about including elements of IAG within the HR resources they offer to employees - and we are very positive about continuing to develop links.” - Bob Carroll, Development Manager – IAG in the workplace

The aims and objectives of the Project were:

To work directly with employers to determine how IAG can best add value to their workforce development activity and to develop business arguments for involvement with IAG

These aims were to be achieved by engaging at least 4 significant employers of different types: Local Authority, NHS Trust, Large Private sector employer and Small and Medium sized Enterprise. This report covers employer engagement and related issues.

Defining IAG in the Workplace was an important first step; the question of how it might fit in organisations and the nature of IAG in the workplace had to be addressed.

Our approach to the subject now leans towards engaging employers in discussion about employee development and guiding them towards the idea of providing an information and advice service for employees of the shape and scope which best suits them.

Confidentiality and impartiality of advice were the key dimensions. The key issue for the Project was seen as reaching and helping those most vulnerable in the workforce and, accordingly, it was decided that employers should decide on the shape and nature of the service they wished to provide with the proviso that arguments for greater impartiality would be pursued wherever appropriate. The arguments for impartiality and confidentiality were developed as the Project proceeded.

The four organisation types as set out in the objectives, each had characteristics specific to their nature:

Local Authorities

There are four local authorities in the West of England area: North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and Bristol City Council. Internal Projects tend to dominate the agenda. It was foreseen that the capacity of staff members to become involved in the Project might be limited. Staff retention, basic skills needs among staff, best practice rules and fostering a lifelong learning culture are all important issues for local authorities. Arguments for quality information, advice and guidance on learning and work flow naturally from these or may be easily attached.

Healthcare Trusts

Issues and arguments are largely similar to those for local authorities. In addition a number of factors and events seemed at the outset likely to play a part. The NHS University was in its consultation stages, the report ‘HR in the NHS Plan’ published in 2000 and the move towards computerisation of patient records. Staff retention was generally seen as an important priority for all NHS Trusts and perhaps the central issue in terms of potential involvement with IAG.

Larger employers

In trying to identify/predict those common features of large Private Sector employers important to their potential engagement, it was natural to take cognisance of the greater diversity in the Private as opposed to the Public Sector.

A starting point in trying to prepare approach and arguments, was the assumption that large employers attitudes would lie somewhere on a scale between the highly progressive employers heavily committed to staff development and those who respond only to those matters which they perceive as balance sheet imperatives.

SMEs

Trying to engage SMEs was acknowledged as problematical but the recognition that even the smallest businesses can often be members of sector-based organisations led to plans to promote IAG benefits to employers, through these.

Employee Targets

According to the aims and objectives of the Project, all participating employers should have a significant proportion of employees who are amongst the most vulnerable members of the UK workforce:

those with basic skills needs
those likely to be discriminated against
those with low level qualifications
those ‘stuck’ at NVQ level 2 wishing to progress would be part of this group
An IAG service provided by an employer on a confidential footing, delivered by staff who are sensitised/trained in basic skills needs recognition, can provide a long term means of spotting those most in need of help and referring them for assessment.

It may be that providers of basic skills tuition, who are broadly sympathetic to the notion of IAG, need to be more acutely aware of its relevance.

Engaging Employers

Leads to potential participants were established by carefully explaining Project aims to organisations and individuals involved in employer contact.

There is an ideal process and order of events that needs to be followed in order to provide a professional/efficient interface with employers. In the interests of maintaining dialogue and generally managing the relationship with a contact, it is also important to be flexible.

The question of who engages employers and the competences required may well be important.

Business Arguments & Potential Impact

From the outset it was necessary to adapt to the slightly uncomfortable position of selling the Project to participants whilst one of the central aims was to develop the business arguments. The main focus was therefore on what seemed the most obvious selling points, which were identified as:

staff retention
the cost of undiagnosed basic skills needs
enhancing employee development activities
Of these, it seems clear that the basic skills needs arguments are the most important and lso the most challenging for employers. However, employers need to look to the future. In the event of changing job roles wouldn’t it be cheaper to have staff ready to develop into their new role rather than shed them and recruit new staff? What also needs to be demonstrated are the subsidiary costs of staff time lost in, for example, verbally explaining essential Health & Safety matters.

In the context of an organisation’s participation in IAG, a diverse range of potential areas of impact exists. As mentioned elsewhere, actual impact will be assessed in July 2003. IAG might achieve the following:

Underpin and support staff development
Improve skills of line managers e.g. identification basic skills needs
Increase numbers of staff able to benefit from internal T& D opportunities
These factors have a number of potential organisational impacts, depending on a variety of complex variables such as size, workforce composition, nature of business etc. They may:

Create savings in terms of greater effectiveness of staff development activities
Help develop the skills of line managers
Enhance the impact of IiP on the business and assist business goals
Assist achievement of best practice in HR/Personnel issues e.g. induction procedures
Employers' reasons for engaging
In the context of the Project, employers expressed a surprisingly wide range of reasons for engaging with IAG. For example they felt IAG might:

Enhance the psychological contract between employee and employer
Promote and enhance a culture of lifelong learning
Empower and encourage staff to overcome personal development barriers
Contribute to the retention of staff
Current Development

The position with all participating organisations is fluid. The foregoing work will take the shape of developing a strategy for IAG, employee development and/or a strategy for basic skills.

So far, amongst activities undertaken, the IAG Partnership has provided some outreach IAG sessions on a drop-in basis, installed learning helplines in some organisations. Portable display board systems have been purchased for large multiple site organisations to allow for internal outreach work. The major point of progress, however, has been in building internal capacity to deliver IAG within organisations. A specially delivered NVQ 3 in Advice & Guidance course has started for 14 employees from 7 organisations. Providers have modified their approach to allow for individuals with little experience of IAG delivery.

Handling Employers' Reservations

There were relatively few objections encountered from employers. One employer felt that providing an IAG service would encourage staff to leave their organisation.
Rather than providing information, advice and guidance on learning and work, an employer might offer staff information and advice about learning and occupational roles within the organisation. Clearly this service could not be seen as a back door exit, but a means of promoting the organisation to employees linked to recruitment, induction and staff development.

The Matrix Standard

Adapting arguments for IAG to arguments for matrix seemed to revolve around the ability of employers to absorb IAG ideals first. News from the Guidance Council employer pilot points to the matrix being used to accredit a wide range of workplace activities, which involve Advice and Guidance. This confirmed a view held within the local IAG Partnership, which will be thoroughly explored, in the coming months.

Timely information from the Guidance Council mapping the matrix standard to the Investors in People standard would have been a great advantage. In the absence of such guidance some attempts have been made at identifying the closest points of contact of matrix and Investors in People.

In general terms the strongest links with IiP are through personal development issues and processes. In the coming months, more detailed strategies for working with employers, where linkage between matrix and IiP standards can be achieved, will be developed.

Where do we go from here?

Although the closing date for QDF Projects has passed, IAG in the Workplace in the West of England will continue by consolidating the work with employers so far and continuing to build IAG services in the organisations where agreement has been reached to do this. Amongst future aims will be to:

Add to and develop the arguments for involvement with IAG expressed in this report from impact evaluation in July 2003
Trial, in the workplace, new Management Information requirements for IAG Partnerships
A strategy for expanding IAG in the Workplace will be produced in consultation with key strategic partners.

Appendix 1 - IAG in the Workplace Project Plan

Aims

Contribute to the objectives of the IAG Partnership both locally and nationally in taking IAG into the workplace in the West of England with particular focus on reaching those most in need of information, advice and/or guidance on learning and work
Establish models, arguments and methods of engaging different types of employer to varying degrees and levels in establishing a quality IAG service
Produce valuable information on overcoming obstacles and objections to IAG in the workplace
Develop business arguments for providing IAG services in the workplace
Disseminate information to all interested bodies and parties as approved by the IAG Forum
Objectives

Identifying organisations who may have employees with basic skills needs considering industries, sectors, geographic location and likely workforce composition
Identifying individual SMEs or groups of SMEs with employees who might benefit from an IAG service
Responding to all expressions of interest in training and development, IAG, Matrix or IiP by organisations
Including among participating employers: a local authority; a healthcare trust; a large private sector employer and a small to medium size enterprise, each employing a significant number of individuals who may be considered as being within local and national priority client groups for IAG Partnerships
Seeking to engage employers who: have a national profile or are regarded as a ‘household name’; or have or are currently seeking IiP accreditation; or currently provide or wish to provide an IAG service
Consulting with participating employers to determine in what ways they feel IAG might best add value to their workforce development activity
Carefully examining the situations, organisational cultures and differing business goals of participating employers to explore further ways in which IAG might improve or assist internal Projects and activities
Determining an individual plan and timetable for each participating employer considering their aims, objectives and organisational realities
Ensuring the quality of all proposed IAG services by ensuring appropriate levels of training for delivery staff and by applying the matrix standard as a set of guidelines to best practice
Gaining the agreement of at least one participating employer in pursuing full Matrix accreditation
Gaining the agreement of at least one participating employer in linking Matrix accreditation to IiP accreditation at a strategic level
Implementation

Approach those organisations that have expressed an interest in IAG and those to whom referral has been gained
Seek further referrals
Gather information from similar Projects nationally and locally to gain from their experiences and perhaps gain company referrals or advice on focus (i.e. sector or industry)
Decide on target types and numbers for each of the 4 categories of organisation considering the budgetary constraints and level of support required
Pursue any further funding options appropriate to achievement of Project and participating employer aims
Contact target organisations arranging appointments to speak to appropriate decision makers
Present arguments for the Project as a whole and seek to identify perceptions with regard the potential benefits of IAG
Augment employer perceptions by suggesting further possible advantages
Determine the appropriate model for engagement in training delivery staff i.e. NVQ 2, 3 or 4, Learning Representatives or Learning Coaches
Determine appropriate model for quality assurance i.e. the Matrix as guidelines for best practice, informal accreditation of I&A using Matrix as a template, full accreditation to Matrix or linkage of Matrix with IiP standard
Arrange preparation and supply of publicity/promotional materials and signposting and service delivery resources
Support selection and appointment of delivery staff
Support training of delivery staff
Advise on all aspects of implementing the service in line with Matrix elements and performance measures/criteria
Support all activities, which may assist in securing the delivery of basic skills training for those who need it
Assist reviews and progress assessment
Produce reports and case studies to include appropriate measurement of performance of the service provided in terms of numbers helped and individual improvements and success stories
Outcomes

Four significant employers engaged with IAG and case studies written up focusing on the business benefit to the organisations
Recommendations on the appropriate implementation of part of the Matrix standard with employers who are unable or unwilling to engage with the full Matrix accreditation process
A model of how to support employers who wish to engage with the Matrix standards integrated with IiP standards
Promotional, signposting and resource materials for employers on IAG services
Protocols and policies

Visit all organisations expressing an interest in the Project
Whilst ensuring that decision makers have strategic authority, as far as is possible, try to encourage the involvement of delivery staff at the earliest stage of discussions possible to incorporate their views and experience
Review the plan regularly to augment, modify or amend details in 2.4 and 2.5
Ensure watertight recording of leads, appointments, dialogue with and requests from participating employers, important contacts and Project Steering Committee

Appendix 2 - Explanation of the project for employers

Appendix 2 - Explanation of the project for employers

What is Information, Advice & Guidance (IAG)?

Employees within most organisations already receive information, advice and guidance on learning and work from their line managers, HR or Training departments, specialists or consultants and from friends or colleagues. These sessions are often informal and may not even be planned, though they can happen during mentoring, coaching, as part of appraisal or during staff development activities.

IAG services within an organisation will supplement rather than replace these activities. Focusing on the needs and aspirations of the individual, the project will sharpen the skills of key advice givers. Setting up IAG services will provide a foundation for training initiatives by allowing employees to find out about personal development.

In general terms IAG services will include:

Information

about courses
about development opportunities within the organisation including job opportunities in different disciplines where this is appropriate
Advice

in assisting understanding of the choices available
& Guidance

1:1 Guidance to plan the next step for those who need it
A broader interpretation, of advice and guidance on learning and work, might include:
Information on courses of all kinds, different occupations, preparing CVs and job search skills or signposting/referral to organisations who can provide this assistance
Advice to help understand the choices available about learning and work
In terms of the project, “IAG in the workplace”, participating employers will be able to define the level and style of service they aim to provide
What is the project about?

Taking IAG into the workplace in the West of England with particular focus on reaching those individuals most in need of information, advice and/or guidance on learning and work.
Ensuring the quality of all proposed IAG services by ensuring appropriate levels of training for delivery staff and by applying the Matrix standard as a set of guidelines to best practice.
Working closely with employers to identify how IAG can add value to the staff development process and further develop the business arguments.
Including among participating employers: a local authority; a large private sector employer; a healthcare trust; a small to medium size enterprise
What will the project provide and pay for?

When you decide to participate you can access a range of services free of charge to support your organisation in developing your IAG service:
Advice and support from the Partnership Team – this includes all the experience from 140 participating members
IAG resources – e.g. software packages, packs, leaflets, shelving, etc
Networking opportunities through a programme of regular meetings and events
Training and development programme of accredited training to develop IAG Practitioner and Manager skills including:
Workshops – e.g. basic skills awareness, ‘How to display IAG resources’, organisational development workshops
OCN in Providing Information (learning champions, reps, etc)
NVQ 2 in Advice & Guidance
NVQ 3/4 in Advice & Guidance
Customised training programme
Staff replacement costs to enable people to attend training events
Other resources for staff training
Funding for delivering information and advice services
Provision of advice service (from Network Information Adviser)
Support to publicise your IAG services, develop your own materials
Support to achieve Matrix accreditation: packs, workshops, 1:1 consultancy etc
Why you should participate

Well implemented IAG can:

Underpin and support staff development
Identify training & development needs of staff
Improve skills of line managers/ supervisors particularly in identifying and skilfully handling low skills/basic skills problems
Better identify staff potential for development
Increase numbers of staff able to benefit from internal T& D opportunities
Create support mechanisms for staff involved in the development process and contribute towards a culture which values the process
Create better understanding of availability of opportunities
Provide on-going support for delivery staff
Encourage staff in owning their personal development hence improving their attitudes towards T&D
Help staff to view the organisation from a different perspective
Encourage those who have benefited from training to champion the process
Encourage line managers, supervisors and IAG delivery staff to take ownership of the service (e.g. give a name to the service for promotional purposes rather than call it IAG and/or rename their own version of the Learning Rep)
The above factors have a number of potential impacts on your organisation, depending on a variety of complex variables such as size, workforce composition, nature of business etc. They may:

Make a contribution to improving staff retention
Create savings in terms of greater efficiency/effectiveness of staff development activities
Help develop the skills of line managers
Assist culture change
Enhance the impact of IiP on the business and assist business goals
Assist achievement of best practice in HR/Personnel issues e.g. induction procedures
Contribute to reduction of costs due to waste, production bottlenecks etc
Your participation

Organisations may take part in the project on a number of bases/levels from providing a referral and signposting service to Information Advice & Guidance (IAG) about learning and work operating in the West of England area, up to providing an IAG service with the intention of gaining and maintain accreditation in respect of matrix, the Guidance Council Quality Standard.

You will be asked to sign a Partnership Agreement, which sets out your commitment to:
Operate in the spirit of Partnership
Adopt the Guidance Council Code of Principles
Support staff development and the achievement of relevant IAG qualifications
Participate in relevant meetings and events

Appendix 3 - Employers case study updates

Appendix 3 - Employers case study updates

Employers Update at March 26th 2003
Bristol City Council

By participating in the Project, Bristol City Council seeks to:

Promote and enhance a culture of lifelong learning and establish Personal Development as an important function within that culture
Take the first steps towards a Council-wide IAG service for staff in order to enhance staff development activities as a means of contributing to staff retention
United Bristol Healthcare Trust (UBHT)

By participating in the Project, UBHT seeks to:

Contribute to the retention of staff by enhancing the psychological contract between employer and employee
Address basic skills issues among clinically non-qualified staff by stimulating personal development through the promotion of an internal IAG service
North Bristol NHS Trust

By participating in the Project, North Bristol NHS Trust seeks to:

Contribute to the retention of staff by enhancing the psychological contract between employer and employee
Address basic skills issues among clinically non-qualified staff by stimulating personal development through the promotion of an internal IAG service
Wincanton plc

By participating in the Project, Wincanton plc, Portbury Depot seeks to:

Enhance staff development activities by actively promoting a Lifelong Learning culture
Encourage staff to consider their future roles within the company as a whole, rather than merely within their existing skills and occupational roles
Remploy, Bristol

By participating in the Project, Remploy Ltd seeks to:

Address cultural issues relating to the psychological contract between employee and employer
Empower and encourage staff to overcome barriers to their personal advancement through pursuit of personal development particularly in relation to basic skills and confidence building
The Beacon Centre – St George Community College

By participating in the Project, St George Community College seeks to:

Enhance employee development activities by extending involvement of services in information and advice on learning and work to staff
Champion this role by taking I & A services off-site to local employees
DIAS

By participating in the Project, DIAS seeks to:

Provide a service in information and advice on learning and work to their client group and staff
Enhance staff development activities and raise awareness of issues in training provision and occupational choice among staff
The Better Food Company

By participating in the Project, The Better Food Company seeks to:

Enhance aspects of the company’s activities in relation to the aim of working for and with the local community
Develop the skills of a key staff member to support the delivery of information and advice on learning and work and explore how these skills further inform customer services practice
BRAVE

Advising mainly small and micro businesses on start up and general entrepreneurial issues, BRAVE sees IAG as a useful means of allowing an alternative to self-employment for clients who decide that it is not for them. IAG resource material and software can also provide background information SMEs who wish to employ people in occupational roles with which they are unfamiliar. A learning helpline telephone is also available for their use.

By participating in the Project, BRAVE seeks to:

Provide learning and development for those contemplating self-employment
Provide information and guidance regarding career development to those who decide not to pursue the self-employment option
Future Developments

Basic Skills/IAG in the Workplace – The future of IAG in the Workplace may be seen as bound closely to Basic Skill in the Workplace. It is worth remembering that a central role for IAG in the workplace has been to facilitate identification of Basic Skills needs among the workforce.

HMP Leyhill – Initial meetings have been arranged to explore how IAG and Basic Skills training for key staff may help to identify staff basic skills needs and provide basic skills training to levels 1 & 2.

Appendix 4 - Employer case studies

Case Study 1 - Wincanton

The organisation

Wincanton’s Portbury Depot is a busy distribution depot. The site is managed on behalf of Co-operative Retail Services, Wincanton’s main customer in the area, and serves over 250 stores in the South West with chilled produce and meat goods from its Temperature Controlled warehouse.

The company as a whole recently acquired P&O Trans European and now enjoys a turnover of £1.4 billion per annum and employs 24,000 at 360 locations in 15 European countries. The company is market leader in temperature-controlled distribution with a fleet of 5200 vehicles and 6000 trailers. The Portbury depot employs approximately 220 staff: 110 warehouse operatives, 65 drivers, 23 admin & clerical and 22 management staff.

Portbury’s mission statement

To be recognised as the centre of excellence on which Wincanton builds its future growth

The company's vision, values and goals

Vision: To be recognised by customers, employees and investors as 'best in class' as the premier supply chain solutions company, the employer of choice for top industry professionals and the sector preference for investors.

Values: Build and maintain close harmony with our customers; treat every employee with care and respect; recruit the best people and develop them to their full potential; and harness the flair of the individual (ensure that teamwork thrives and minimise operational effects upon the community and the environment)

Goals: To enhance our position as the clear No. 2 in the UK, establish a strong platform in Europe, Develop opportunities beyond Europe And develop more added value service

SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)

Threats

Losing contract due to poor performance e.g. damage due to bad stacking, all other possible causes of poor cost: productivity ratio
Low unemployment levels
Local competition in recruitment
Opportunities

Investors in People accreditation
Additional volume capacity
Build and excel in being a centre of excellence
Weaknesses

Lack of internal development opportunities
Recruitment difficulties
Limited shift configuration potential
Strengths

Highly motivated management team
Location near M4/M5 corridors
Strong commitment to communication and employee welfare
Open culture providing employees with understanding of customer expectations and the means to exceed them
Linking to IAG in the Workplace

In November 2002, Wincanton was working towards IiP accreditation and was introduced to the IAG in the Workplace Project by Business Link West:

It would be fair to say that the Portbury depot is trying hard to live up to its progressive ideals. It seems likely their ethos played a part in the Co-op’s decision to use them. Possibly the biggest HR issue is recruitment of drivers - there is a constant difficulty in finding qualified drivers. Meetings with Andy Priest, Claire Williams and local trades union shop stewards for Wincanton and Bob Carroll and Adrian Stone for the IAG Partnership, brought about various agreements and understandings.

There was a general consensus that providing a service to employees would be beneficial and could be achieved. However, it was obvious that the organisation could not fund and would probably not need someone to deliver IAG as a full-time occupation but it would be possible to envisage a service where, after training, a number of key advice givers could be called upon by members of staff to deliver information and advice sessions as required.

The shift pattern and the geography of the site was considered and it seemed fairly clear that the undertaking would require at least three delivery staff to ensure all staff had reasonable access.

It was felt that there were probably some basic skills issues among staff and that it would be a good thing if the issues could be handled sensitively.

Andy Priest, General Manager, said that in general terms he wanted people who came to work at the depot to consider what shape their future might take within the organisation, beyond the job they had signed on for.

By participating in the project, Wincanton plc, Portbury Depot seeks to:

Enhance staff development activities by actively promoting a Lifelong Learning culture
Encourage staff to consider their future roles within the company as a whole, rather than merely within their existing skills and occupational roles
It seemed a reasonable way forward was to provide a demonstration of the process of IAG and test the demand. Consequently three half-day outreach sessions were organised for late January. The results of these sessions are shown at the end of this case study
The outreach sessions:

Encouraged staff to consider their future roles within the company as a whole, rather than merely within their existing skills and occupational roles
Enhanced staff development activities by actively promoting a Lifelong Learning culture
Resulted in three individuals committed to training to NVQ 3 in Advice & Guidance and a resource centre set up including learndirect access point and a learning helpline, Adult
Directions software and a selection of the Working In…. series of publications
Notes on Outreach Session

Numbers:

Day 1: 10 advice, 25 information

Day 2: 7 advice, 10 information

Day 3: 5 advice, 23 information

Total: 22 advice, 58 information

Information Stand

The canteen was a good place for the stand; lots of leaflets were taken while the stand was unattended. This included part-time prospectuses from Weston, City of Bristol and Filton Colleges. Also taken were BBC Learning Zone leaflets, which list late-night TV programmes (covering a range of subjects from Maths to Art), learndirect course details and IAG Network leaflets. A few information sheets on driving jobs were taken.

Staff seen

The majority were warehouse staff ranging from order pickers to managers. Only about eight drivers were spoken to - this may have been due to timing of sessions or because drivers didn’t visit the canteen. Several temporary agency staff were interested and spoken to at length. A few members of office staff were included.

Questions

The most frequent questions were about gaining basic computer skills. Learndirect on site may be helpful, but staff also wanted to know about courses close to their homes. There were a few questions about more advanced computer courses.

There were a few queries about becoming a driver and about the CPC training. Several people wanted information about training for other occupations e.g. plumber, electrician, car mechanic and web designer. A number also wanted information on setting up a business. A few wanted to know about funding for courses.

Adult Directions

One person was able to do Adult Directions on the computer. He spent about half an hour and was able to take away a printout listing occupations that he matched up with. He also could take away detailed information about occupations that he was particularly interested in. This included work activities, training/ qualifications and information on adult opportunities.

Future visits

These sessions showed there was an interest in this type of information, particularly in basic computer skills. It was difficult to engage the staff who were reluctant to come over and talk and could be subject to teasing if they did so!

It was necessary to actively speak to individuals who then often disclosed a desire or need for training / career information.

There would be little value in returning at the same times in the near future since this would only access the same people. It would be useful to return at a different time.

Case Study 2 - Remploy

The organisation

Remploy was set up in 1945 in response to the 1944 Disabled Persons (Employment) Act to "provide training and productive sheltered employment". Initially known as the Disabled Person Employment Corporation Ltd, it changed its name to Remploy Limited in 1949. The first factory opened in 1946 in Bridgend - a light engineering, furniture and violin making plant. There are now over 80 factories stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance.

Remploy manufacturing units have gained BS.EN.ISO9002 in recent years. The company also meets the demanding standards of its diverse customer base which includes BA, Sony, Rover, Ford UK, MoD, AAFES, Lever Brothers, Procter and Gamble, Unipart, Toshiba and the US military.

Forward-looking training programmes have seen many employees awarded NVQs and the company has twice won national training awards. As an accredited "Investor in People" and approved "Positive About Disabled People" company, Remploy is committed to investing all surplus profits into training its people.

Remploy is the UK's largest employer of disabled people and is backed by Government funding. The company employs more than 6,000 disabled people and supports the employment of 4,000 others with mainstream employers as part of their Interwork programme. Interwork employees are employed by Remploy at the same rate of pay and under the same conditions as the rest of the host company's workforce but the costs are shared with the host company.

In December 2000 Remploy launched ‘Breaking Barriers’, an employers guide to good communication with disabled employees. A year later, Roger Paffard, Remploy Chief Executive reported an overwhelming response ‘from all sides of industry’ and launched Positive Employment, a booklet designed to help employers in understanding the benefits as well as the obligations attached to employing disabled people. The booklet lists strong business arguments for employing disabled people.

Mission Statement

“To expand the opportunities for disabled people in sustainable work both within Remploy factories and externally.”

Key Aims

Development of each individual to their full potential
Profitable sales growth
Full, modern factories
An enterprise culture
A focused, accountable and cost effective organisation
Remploy - Bristol

Remploy’s Bristol factory employs approximately 50 individuals who concentrate their efforts on PCB manufacture, electro-mechanical assembly and packaging.

Contract services, which makes up about 50 per cent of Remploy nationally, was once divided by geographical region but is now divided by business streams.

Current management thinking is that new business streams need to be introduced in Bristol. These would be data collection, contact centre contracting and e-cycling. PCB manufacture is currently reasonably profitable since all capital costs have been absorbed but the technology is dated and will not last forever. The current premises have been sold and new premises leased to ease cash flow.

The contact Centre will concentrate on list cleaning and lead generation whilst e-cycling will involve the recycling of white goods.

The vision

For Lyndon Biddle, the vision of an ideal future for Remploy Bristol begins with the move to their new premises. He sees 35 – 40 people working in data capture because: “that’s what you need if you plan to be a player”.

The e-cycling business could be built up by contracting to remove old white goods on behalf of manufactures. When new white goods are sold, the retailer will contact Remploy to remove the old appliances for customers. Waste will go to be recycled and viable equipment refurbished for re-sale.

SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats):

Threats

Competition
No control over timing of the move to new premises because the Government will decide when it can be signed off
Timing issues relating to ramping up new business and ramping down old business
Remploy image and the skills base – many people see the organisation as a kind of institute/ workshop/ asylum/ day-centre
Opportunities

It is likely that Remploy’s new premises can help to upgrade the image of the company. Local competitors tend to work from premises with a highly functional appearance. Remploy can use the move to set up an attractive workplace, which may help to influence customers and new employees.
The stigma of working for Remploy may only be broken down over time and new high quality customer service and products will help to enhance the good reputation of the organisation. The relevance of the services to customer needs will also be a deciding factor in terms of image.
In terms of the e-cycling work machinery is cheap and there are opportunities for building partnerships with manufacturers. For example new EU regulations will mean that manufacturers will have a responsibility for the lifetime of their goods. Whenever a new machine is sold the manufacturer of the old machine has an obligation to dispose of the machine they replace.
Weaknesses

The resistance to change factor is stronger in Remploy due to its nature. The organisation will have to work even harder in managing the culture. Attitudes to overtime and team-work are particularly complex but have been well handled in the past.
The length of the learning curve for staff is going to pose problems for the business and building up the new skills base and the size of the Data Collection team will have to be steady and patient.
Strengths

Working with learndirect, the IAG partnership and basic skills providers can help to continue and extend the company’s involvement with training and development in new ways. These services may contribute to breaking down the ‘them and us’ assumptions both in the traditional management vs. worker sense, but also in the non-disabled vs. disabled sense. Services may also help to improve confidence levels of staff who may wish to move on to other areas of employment.
Influencing culture change in other ways and bringing in ‘new blood’ can improve workforce motivation, which is good generally.
There are good foundations upon which to build a skills base. A few key individuals have high skills levels appropriate to the new business directions and a partnership with MBS (who perform data collection services in Bedfordshire)
Involving Remploy in IAG

GMB are the Trades Union most involved with Remploy and have an important position in what resembles a classic tripartite relationship. The Government listens to what GMB says and Remploy is careful to work with them sensitively. Initial contact with IAG in the workplace was effected by local TUC representative Alan Shearn who was aware of the project, and also that Steve Sargent, the South of England Remploy/GMB representative, was interested in bringing an IAG dimension into play in relation to the Bristol factory.

During early meetings it became clear that a Learning Rep, Susan Moore was a willing candidate for involvement in delivering advice and guidance to staff members. Remploy is involved with learndirect at a national/sectoral level and had a reasonably well equipped training room which was used among other things for delivery of basic skills training. Meetings with local Remploy Manager, Lyndon Biddle, Susan Moore and Steve Sargent established that IAG was seen as a potentially useful service for a number of reasons.

Lyndon Biddle explained that a ‘them and us’ culture existed to some extent within the organisation. This was partly because of a classic management/worker division and partly because most of the management and administrative staff are non-disabled. Furthermore he said that far from having problems with staff retention, there were occasionally situations where members of staff lacked the confidence and motivation to try to seek employment externally.

Discussing these issues and the possible influence and support which a staff orientated IAG service might bring, we agreed to draft aims in relation to the project as follows:

By participating in the project, Remploy Ltd seeks to:

Address cultural issues relating to the psychological contract between employee and employer
Empower and encourage staff to overcome barriers to their personal advancement through pursuit of personal development particularly in relation to basic skills and confidence building
The Project has provided two computers to allow use with learndirect courses, Adult Directions software and any other learning and work related activities that arise.

Publications explaining occupational choices across a wide range disciplines have also been supplied to be displayed in the training room and Susan Moore has commenced training to NVQ level 3 in Advice & Guidance.

Mentoring and consultancy will continue during April to July 2003. After this period it will be possible to assess what has been achieved.

Case Study 3 - Bristol City Council

In May/June 2001, GMB Bristol Public Services Branch organised a pilot course for part-timer women cleaners. Rowena Hayward, Equalities Officer at Bristol City Council says: “The offer of a free basic skills IT course attracted these traditionally ‘hard to reach’ learners back into learning and enabled the course tutors to assess their basic skills needs in a sensitive and non-threatening/non-confrontational way.”

The approach proved successful. Not only did participants gain a basic understanding of IT but some of the group also took up further basic skills support.

Accordingly, in partnership with other stakeholders, Bristol City Council bid successfully for funding for a similar basic skills initiative across a wider base of employees. The departments involved are Contract Services, encompassing Catering, Cleaning and Construction and the Social Services and Health Department responsible for Residential Care Assistants.

There was a history of difficulties in recruitment and retention in Catering, Cleaning and Residential Care. In addition even where training was available take up was not good. On the subject of basic skills needs management found it difficult to address needs even where they knew they existed because staff shortages placed a large burden on a small number of staff.

Information, advice and guidance on learning and work was seen as an important part of the process and involvement with Bristol IAG Network through co-ordinator Diane McAdam, led to an interest in the IAG in the Workplace project. The idea, that IAG in the Workplace could provide some level of sustainability to the pursuit of basic skills needs, was the central reason for contact.

The Project will train six members from the Women’s Group, Equalities Team, Personnel Department, Social Services and Health and Contract Services to NVQ 3 in Advice & Guidance. These individuals will deliver IAG within Bristol City Council with the help and support of the Bristol Network and the IAG in the Workplace Development Manager.

The main aim is, by also involving the six participants in basic skills needs awareness training, to create the continuous means of identifying basic skills needs through the provision of advice and guidance on learning and work. The provision of this service in the long term and the provision of the basic IT course in the shorter term should contribute something to encouraging an involvement in training and also assist staff retention.

As Rowena Hayward puts it: “… being able to offer training will demonstrate to the workforce that the authority is committed to its greatest resource – its employees and assist in raising morale and commitment.”

The involvement of the TUC is helpful as is the potential participation of learning representatives and related roles within the Council’s trade unions. These include UNISON, T&GWU and GMB, UCATT and AMICUS.

Reference publications and some display materials have been purchased for the organisation. The service will be developed and promoted during April to July. The identification of basic skills needs remains the main motivation for involvement.

By participating in the project, Bristol City Council seeks to:

Promote and enhance a culture of lifelong learning and establish Personal Development as an important function within that culture

Take the first steps towards a Council-wide IAG service for staff in order to enhance staff development activities as a means of contributing to staff retention

Case Study 4 - North Bristol NHS Trust

In 2002, North Bristol NHS trust started to develop a 'skills escalator' for support staff. The aim was to develop a three-phase partnership of preparation, provision and progression.

The preparation phase planned to create the infrastructure of the escalator which would identify priority groups of staff, carry out workplace needs analysis, raise basic skills awareness and train key personnel involved in supporting staff as well as recruiting for UNISON, Lifelong Learning Advisers/TUC Union Learning Representative training programmes. Mavis Zutshi, WEA was instrumental at this stage in involving IAG in the bid to offer initial assessment using BSA IA tool (paper-based) and/or target skills (IT) through three hour IT supported sessions.

The bid addressed the key Government priority of meeting basic skills needs in the workplace. Underpinning this is the NHS drive as the UK’s largest employer to introduce the ‘Improving Working Lives’ initiative that identified ‘lifelong learning’ as one of its key objectives.

The Skills Escalator was designed to ensure that the NHS provides model careers for its employees through high quality learning and development opportunities, allowing each individual to extend their skills and knowledge so that they could move up the escalator. In doing this, individuals would receive greater job satisfaction and generate efficiency gains providing overall benefit to employers, staff and communities alike.

North Bristol NHS trust has 3 - 4,000 non-clinically qualified staff members who are involved in technical, electrical, housekeeping and grounds maintenance over a wide geographical area within the eight sites that constitute the Trust.

Jayne Skidmore, Training & Development Manager, recognised the potential of IAG in providing a long-term framework for training, consultancy and resources. She was very positive about the need to involve IAG to underpin the Trust’s objectives rather than as an, ‘add on’ role. In this way IAG would be fundamental in the Progression phase to offer Information, Advice and Guidance to all learners.

In February 2003, Jayne signed the agreement of intent for two people to undertake NVQ3 in advice and guidance - Kim Hacker who is new to the Trust and Jackie Lowe. Their working roles involve/will involve both of them in activities which are contiguous or synonymous with advice and guidance.

Due to the large geographical area of the North Bristol NHS Trust, a portable display board system and resource publications, appropriate to occupational roles within the organisation, have been purchased for the Trust so that internal outreach can be undertaken.

By participating in the project, North Bristol NHS Trust seeks to:

Contribute to the retention of staff by enhancing the psychological contract between employer and employee
Address basic skills issues among clinically non-qualified staff by stimulating personal development through the promotion of an internal IAG service
Case Study 5. United Bristol Healthcare Trust

In October 2002, Adrian Gregory, Education & Training Manager at the United Bristol Healthcare Trust Education Centre engaged with the IAG in the Workplace project. Diane McAdam, Bristol IAG Network Co-ordinator, had previously established contact.

As with all Hospital Trusts, UBHT is working towards the objectives set out in ‘HR in the NHS plan’ document, which is seeking to make the NHS, already the UK’s biggest employer, a ‘Model Employer’. One of the key pillars to achieving this is to encourage staff in lifelong learning through the Skills Escalator.

'Local government and major local employers’ were specifically identified as a means by which to achieve this vision, and the West of England IAG Partnership was keen to assist the Trust in meeting these objectives.

One of the central issues for all NHS Trusts is staff retention. There is acceptance of the idea that an IAG service for staff might enhance the psychological contract between management and staff. Indications are that, although there may be some reservations to an IAG service which offers advice on all societal occupational roles in a wholly impartial way, it will be possible to establish a service which compliments the NHS Careers Service and National Health Service University’s approach to advice. Once the degree of impartiality and confidentiality is agreed with UBHT’s HR Department the service will support and add to all training initiatives and should become a useful tool to inform many aspects of staff development.

Within the next three years, all UBHT’s medical patient records will become completely electronic, requiring 10,000 people to be trained in computer skills. In preparing staff for this change it was realised that, for some, basic skills needs had to be addressed first. An IAG service was viewed as a useful means of identifying staff development needs.

UBHT has recently developed an Education Centre but this is not currently viewed as serving lower skilled or non-clinically qualified staff. Gillian Key who is employed by UBHT as their NVQ co-ordinator is not widely recognised within the Trust. The project was seen as a potential vehicle to promote Gillian’s role as well as the work of the Education Centre whilst developing and promoting an IAG service.

A portable display board system and reference publications and display have been purchased for the organisation.

By participating in the project, UBHT seeks to:

Contribute to the retention of staff by enhancing the psychological contract between employer and employee
Address basic skills issues among clinically non-qualified staff by stimulating personal development through the promotion of an internal IAG service
Case Study 6 - Better Food

The Better Food Company is an ethical, community-based business with wider ambitions to become a true centre for the local community.

The IAG Network, through Bristol Co-ordinator Diane McAdam approached Phil Hawton, the company’s owner, after realising the huge potential of the new market in the Old Proving House on Sevier St. The market is a growing focal point for the local and wider Bristol Community and is now open six days a week with late opening on Thursday and Friday to allow working people to drop in after work as well as Saturdays.

Mission Statement

To campaign for a more sustainable world by providing ethical and environmentally beneficial produce to as many people as possible, based around an informed partnership between producer, customer and employees.

Small private sector companies like Better Food often undergo frequent and rapid change as they struggle to remain profitable in a fast moving world. Unfortunately they also find it very difficult to find the funds, expertise and capacity to develop and train their staff helping them gain the new skills they may need to manage this change. It was for these reasons that the IAG in the Workplace project engaged with Better Food. It seemed possible that IAG could assist in the staff development process.

Phil Hawton says: “Our recent involvement with the IAG Network is very timely and very exciting. I feel that we are discovering much common ground and learning about how the IAG process can help us manage a process of change and work towards a real partnership with the local voluntary and community sector.

A number of recent changes in the business had stretched staff and resources to their limits. The company moved from premises that were too small to new premises which are relatively spacious and found that new scale, whilst being appropriate to their needs as a business, produced increased physical demands. Shortly after the move it was decided that the home delivery service, which they had been operating over a 25-mile radius, had to be dropped. The main reason for this was the amount of time and resources the service used up.

Needless to say the changes had a cost in terms of losing a few old customers, but the shop turnover is up and the business is heading towards a break-even.

Involving Better Food in IAG

The initial plan was that the information point set up for the community could be used as a resource centre for staff and a key staff member would train to NVQ 3 in Advice & Guidance. One of the spin off advantages would be that the training would sharpen an appreciation of a customer service approach as the principles of advice and guidance focus on the individual in a very similar way.

However, the timing was clearly not right. Change was still exacting a price on staff and it was difficult for anyone to make the considerable commitment required to see the training through and aid the development of an IAG service whilst maintaining the level of activity the business is currently demanding.

Various resources were purchased on behalf of Better Food and the IAG in the Workplace Development Manager will continue to liase with the business with the intention of following through on staff development issues in the future. The Bristol IAG Network will, of course, continue to work with Better Food to help them realise their community related ambitions.

By participating in the project, The Better Food Company originally hoped to:

Enhance aspects of the company’s activities in relation to the aim of working for and with the local community
Develop the skills of a key staff member to support the delivery of information and advice on learning and work and explore how these skills further inform customer services practice
Case Study 7 - DIAS

DIAS is a community-based organisation giving information and advice to disabled people. Though it has only a small staff group, the Project decided to engage the organisation on the basis that the IAG service they proposed might well give advice to employed as well as unemployed disabled people.

Initial contact with the organisation was established very late in the project and there was little time to establish a clear strategy for IAG. Julie Williams, however, who gives advice of all kinds to disabled people is highly motivated and extremely keen to train to NVQ 3 in Advice & Guidance and bring IAG to the widest possible disabled audience.

Resource materials have been purchased on the organisation’s behalf and planning will continue in mid-April. One interesting avenue which will be explored is forging links between Remploy and DIAS.

By participating in the project, DIAS seeks to:

Provide a service in information and advice on learning and work to their client group and staff
Enhance staff development activities and raise awareness of issues in training provision and occupational choice among staff
Case Study 8 - Tourism Task Force

The organisation works on behalf of the Tourism sector which includes Airports, Hotels and everything else to do with Tourism generally.

The Tourism Task Force operates with a very small staff group across a huge number of employers. The employers range from large private sector organisations to SMEs.

The original idea was for the Bristol IAG Network to support a member of the Task Force’s staff in delivering IAG for members but also to pilot a scheme in which a group of small hotels provided IAG for its staff supported by the Project. It was planned that both individuals would be trained to NVQ 3 in Advice and Guidance.

Sadly the pressure of delivery targets on the organisation from its funding source is such that neither individual has sufficient time to commit to the course. The IAG in the Workforce Development Manager has made a firm commitment to re-visit the possibilities in a few months time.

By participating in the project , The Tourism Task Force originally planned to:

Enhance employee development activities among member organisations particularly in Smaller and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs)
Develop and pilot a model for IAG which will allow small groups of companies such as hotel groups to provide IAG services to their employees
Case Study 9 - The Beacon Centre, St George Community College

As part of St George Community College’s commitment to providing lifelong learning opportunities to all, a new adult learning facility, The Beacon Centre was refurbished and equipped at a cost of £500,000 and opened in September 2002.

The Beacon Centre comprises six teaching spaces (incorporating a 36-workstation ICT facility). There is also a wide range of software planned to facilitate learning from beginners up to specialist levels. Further ICT is being acquired.

While ICT training is a priority for the Beacon Centre it is by no means its only priority. There is a brief to develop accredited and non-accredited courses aimed to be of value to adult learners with the widest possible range of skills and interests. Where possible, accredited courses will have clear progression routes leading to nationally recognised qualifications.

The Beacon Centre has been funded by UK-Online, Community at Heart (New Deal for Communities) and the European Union Objective 2 ERDF Programme. Other sources of funding are being sought.

Involving the Beacon Centre in IAG

Initial contact with the Centre was through Bristol IAG Network Co-ordinator Diane McAdam. The decision to engage with IAG in the Workplace happened quite late in the Project’s lifespan so real planning will be picked up mid-April 2003.

The Centre has recently appointed Carla Wright as an IAG worker and one of the dimensions of the work she will undertake is to try to reach employees in local companies with whom the Centre will engage.

It is envisaged that there will be opportunities to create strong links between IAG in the Workplace initiatives and the Beacon Centre in the future and the possibilities of eliciting their assistance in employer contact is a possibility.

By participating in the project, St Georges Community College seeks to:

Enhance employee development activities by extending involvement of services in information and advice on learning and work to staff
Champion this role by taking I & A services off-site to local employees
Case Study 10 - BRAVE

Advising mainly small and micro businesses on start-up and general entrepreneurial issues, BRAVE sees IAG as a useful means of allowing alternative choices and background information for SMEs as employers.

Although there has been solid agreement and good essential dialogue between BRAVE’s John Fitzgerald and the IAG in the Workplace Development Manager, there is as yet little actual detail of how IAG delivery will be accomplished. Training, support and advice needs for BRAVE advisers have yet to be established, though clearly current staff skills and qualifications are highly similar.

Some resource materials have been provided and a learning help line phone is available for their use.

By participating in the project, BRAVE seeks to:

Provide learning and development for those contemplating self-employment
Provide information and guidance regarding career development to those who decide not to pursue the self-employment option

Quality Development Fund Project, Case Studies - Guidance in the Workplace

Project by Jan Jones and Mary Opie (Posted by Mary Opie, May 2003)
QDF project in Gloucestershire

September 2002 – March 2003

The following case studies based on work done by Jan Jones and Mary Opie through a recent quality development project for the GO [IAG] partnership in Gloucestershire, illustrate how IAG interventions can usefully be integrated into the workplace.

Case study 1

A small graphic design company, set up seven years’ ago has 12 employees. The directors currently face the following challenges:

ensuring that all employees keep their skills up to date in a highly competitive market
maintaining motivation levels – some of the work is monotonous
accrediting employees for skills they already have
It was agreed that three employees would benefit from 1:1 career guidance sessions. These were currently going through one or other of the following: eeling stuck in a rut but not wanting to leave the company; growing their job so that it becomes more interesting and meaningful; acquiring additional skills and qualifications or planning for career progression at a later stage

Individual interviews such as these are easy to set up, give people a chance to discuss matters in total confidence with an external adviser and thus allowing tailored outcomes to be developed. Topics covered a stock take of current skills, an exploration of development opportunities and an examination of how their personal goals could be aligned to future company strategy.

Each employee had a two hour 1:1 session followed with by an hour’s follow-up two weeks later. Action points were agreed at the end of each. Feedback of non-confidential information was given to each of their managers to keep them in the picture and to ensure that the agreed objectives were still on track.

They were helped to research learning opportunities in job-specific and personal development areas as well as in addressing particular needs. One has already enrolled on a learndirect course; the others may need to be actively encouraged by management to make that step. The company will help fund course if they have obvious business benefits.

It is hoped that a clearer picture of their capabilities, and an understanding of the kind of work that suits their personal style and ideas for longer term career planning will increase their motivation level.

General points to note

Companies will support career guidance intervention such as these only if they perceive a real business benefit – they will not do it on altruistic grounds
Guidance in the workplace is not simply job-specific - people’s circumstances, confidence level, state of health, motivation, special needs all play a key role
IAG interventions such as this can help to spread the message about the importance of taking responsibility for personal and professional development and how this is a win-win situation for both sides - employer and employee
Professional and personal development is not just about courses; IAG workers have to help people identify other ways of gaining skills and knowledge e. g. through work shadowing or use of CDROMS
A key barrier to uptake of learning opportunities, is not having access to up to date information about providers
Guidance interviews in the workplace need careful handling. Issues may arise from discussions that have wider company implications. These have to be sensitively fed back to management without compromising client confidentiality
Impartiality is a key principle in Adult Guidance. At work, business needs have to be the top priority, and these are not always in line with the individual employee’s needs
Many managers are unaware of the usefulness of having career discussions at work.
Case study 2

The company, a medium sized enterprise, delivering security solutions to both corporate and private clients. The business was set up about 12 years ago by two entrepreneurs and has grown ‘organically’ to over 70 employees. The directors currently face the following challenges:

making strategic decisions on the future direction of the business
improving operational practices such as forward planning
developing workforce capability to respond to changing markets
A key problem identified by one of the directors was the reluctance within the Director Team to set time aside to discuss these issues. A way forward was agreed. As a first step, the directors would reflect on their individual strengths and weaknesses with a view to identifying any shortfalls. In view of time pressures, a psychometric test such as the MBTI would get them focus on this and had the added benefit that it could be undertaken at a time and place that was convenient to each member of the team. The results would give them an understanding of how to:

communicate more effectively with peers and employees
solve organisational personal problems
improve teamwork
value different contributions to the organisation
Feedback sessions were carried out with each individual to help them identify where their strengths and energies lay. The team as a whole suffers from an acute imbalance with four out of the five presenting the same profile. In this instance, the usual checks and balances, which inform strategic decision-making come from one team member only.

Decisions now have to be made whether they are happy to continue as they are without the right blend of attributes to deal with the challenges facing the company or whether they need to recruit an additional member to the team to restore the balance. Another option could be that that they take personal responsibility to assume team roles that do not come naturally to them.

General points to note

Useful to give companies an insight into a range of IAG tools
IAG have to be sold to employers on a business not simply as personal development
Getting companies such as this onside is an important element is selling the benefits of IAG in the workplace to others. Case studies are a particularly useful
Time is a very precious commodity for all businesses. IAG interventions that will deliver smart solutions, making the most effective use of time will obviously be more attractive
Delivering the full range of IAG interventions requires well-qualified and experienced staff. This has implications for all IAG provider in terms of recruitment, training and budgets management - upskilling in-house staff versus buying external consultants
With regard to psychometrics, most IAG and career organisations train their staff initially in Morrisby. The test is time consuming to administer and does not always deliver what an employer needs in outcome terms. It is therefore important to look at a range commercially used tools when deciding which ones fit this particular context.
Case study 3

The organisation, a government agency employing over 4000 people, many of who are have specialist scientific or technical skills. There is a strong learning culture, which supports the take up of courses and other developmental activities. There are a number of Employee Development initiatives in place. There are particular career management challenges at the moment:

Many high flyers are hitting a mid –career impasse as the number of vertical career opportunities decline
The company attracts a high calibre workforce, attracted by its location and ethos. A large proportion of employees are in jobs where their talents are underused. This can lead to motivational problems
It was agreed to design a process to help individuals undertake a mid career review to enable them to make better choices about their future. This might mean identifying opportunities within the company or outside. A large cohort of people fell into this category, therefore there were time and cost implications to be taken into consideration regarding delivery.

An experiential mid-career review workshop was deigned for senior HR and Learning & Development managers. This would enable them to examine first hand the content and process of assisting employees to take stock of strengths values, circumstances and other factors, review their current situation within the organisation and explore options for moving forward. The workshop module could also be used by them on a ‘train the trainers’ cascading basis. By offering this to groups of 12 at a time and delivering it in-house, huge cost efficiencies could be made. The content could also be used as a basis for one to one career discussions delivered by line managers.

As workshop was delivered, it became clear that the group would value time out during the day to reflect as a group of managers on the strategic issues around career management. The flexible delivery of the workshop enabled an hour to be built in at the end of the day for a facilitated session on how to take thisagenda forward. This resulted in a draft career development strategy for the whole organisation.

Learning points

Where there are cost implication, train the trainers sessions such as these can work very well, as can developing the in house capacity to deliver IAG e.g. career coaching skills for line managers
Business needs have to come before individual employee needs. IAG Interventions must have the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the individual or groups involved
The IAG need to have the credibility and confidence to deliver at all levels. It is no longer enough to rely on 1:1 guidance skills, today’s guidance worker has to often be a good facilitator and trainer too.

Quality Development Fund Project, Working with Employers

By Jan Jones and Mary Opie (Posted by Mary Opie, May 2003)
Working with Employers

Quality Development Fund Project

September 2002 – March 2003

This is the Executive Summary of the Project on 'Enhancing Work with Employers' carried out in Gloucestershire. Essentially the project focused on Identifying 8 Employers and working with them to install and IAG Resource Base and Training a 'Learning Guradian' The project developed further to include taster guidance sessions to show to Employers the wide ranging benefits of IAG to their business.

QDF Project - Enhancing Work with Employers - Undertaken on behalf of the Gloucestershire IAG Partnership by Jan Jones and Mary Opie

Key issues and recommendations

The project highlighted some important issues which have implications not only for the local GO IAG partnership, but for other national IAG partnerships as well. They can be summarised around the three topics of IAG Partnership staff, marketing of IAG services and IAG network management and development.

Conclusion

There is clear evidence that a significant proportion of employers are willing to engage with IAG partnerships, provided they can see a tangible benefit to their business. Strategies should be concentrated on those which have been proved to be effective, such as those outlined above.

Project summary

Research has shown that employers are the most commonly used source of information, advice and guidance [IAG]. In order to widen access to IAG services, therefore, local IAG Partnerships need to find ways to market their services to local employers. The aim of this project was to explore some strategies for engaging with local employers in order to enhance the development of IAG services in the workplace.

Key findings of an earlier mapping exercise had revealed that:

awareness amongst employers of the local IAG Partnership was low
IAG services need to be marketed as specific offers, not generalist services
larger companies and/or those already involved in initiatives such as ‘Investors in People’ were more likely to understand IAG services
The aims of this project were to:

promote awareness amongst local employers of the GO IAG Partnership and of the potential for IAG services to help them
develop the potential for the GO IAG Partnership to engage in work with local employers, including small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] and unionised companies
demonstrate the relevance of IAG services in general and the GO Partnership in particular to the workforce development activities of a selected group of companies
demonstrate some activities which could lead to better cooperation between IAG services and local employers
recommend ways in which work with employers could be enhanced
The specific objectives which were developed to meet these aims were:

to offer a selected group of employers a recommended set of IAG resources for use in the workplace
to offer training in the use and maintenance of these resources to identified informal advisers on the company’s staff
to produce a written booklet aimed at demystifying the IAG service for use by informal advisers in the workplace such as union learning reps
to identify specific interests and needs in each company and deliver additional tailor-made IAG services to these employers on a trial basis
to collect feedback from the participant companies in order to evaluate the impact of the resources, the training, the activities and the booklet
to produce a ‘Good Practice Guide’ for IAG practitioners aiming to work with employers
Eight local employers from both the public and private sector agreed to take part in the project. The profile of the participants was as follows:

2 small companies [under 50 employees] from ICT and tourism, non-unionised
2 medium sized companies [50 – 200 employees] from manufacturing and security services, non-unionised
2 medium to large [500 – 1000 employees] one local government, unionised, and one financial services, non-unionised
2 large, multi-site public sector organisations, one government agency and one health sector, both unionised

Project delivery

Negotiations took place with these organisations via their Human Resources [HR] or Training and Development [T&D] personnel, or simply through personal contacts. Small IAG Resource collections were set up on eight sites. Training was delivered to a key staff contact on each site. This covered the purpose and relevance to business of IAG services, the role of the GO Partnership, an introduction to the resources, publicity and maintenance. Additional IAG activities were delivered to four of the eight organisations. The decision as to what to offer was based on the issues raised in the initial negotiations and an analysis of each organisation’s need. The following illustrates what was offered and the rationale for each choice:

Organisation - Small, private, ICT sector need identified

Help staff to develop additional skills
Help staff plan career progression
Improve staff motivation
IAG activity chosen
1:1 Guidance interviews for 3 staff selected by managers
Organisation Medium, private, security industry need identified
Solve organisational problems
Improve teamwork
Identify future direction
IAG activity chosen
Psychometric test for whole management team: Myers Briggs Type Inventory [MBTI]
Organisation - Large, government agency, scientific need identified

Help HR staff encourage internal promotion
Review of all HR and L&D activities
IAG activity chosen
Career Review Workshop
Organisation - Large public sector, health need identified

Better signposting by frontline admin staff
Better usage of Learning Centre
IAG activity chosen
Career Review Workshop
Diagnostic Interviewing Workshop for front-line staff


Negotiations took place with these organisations via their Human Resources [HR] or Training and Development [T&D] personnel, or simply through personal contacts. Small IAG Resource collections were set up on eight sites. Training was delivered to a key staff contact on each site. This covered the purpose and relevance to business of IAG services, the role of the GO Partnership, an introduction to the resources, publicity and maintenance. Additional IAG activities were delivered to four of the eight organisations. The decision as to what to offer was based on the issues raised in the initial negotiations and an analysis of each organisation’s need. The following illustrates what was offered and the rationale for each choice:

Organisation - Small, private, ICT sector need identified

Help staff to develop additional skills
Help staff plan career progression
Improve staff motivation
IAG activity chosen
1:1 Guidance interviews for 3 staff selected by managers
Organisation Medium, private, security industry need identified
Solve organisational problems
Improve teamwork
Identify future direction
IAG activity chosen
Psychometric test for whole management team: Myers Briggs Type Inventory [MBTI]
Organisation - Large, government agency, scientific need identified

Help HR staff encourage internal promotion
Review of all HR and L&D activities
IAG activity chosen
Career Review Workshop
Organisation - Large public sector, health need identified

Better signposting by frontline admin staff
Better usage of Learning Centre
IAG activity chosen
Career Review Workshop
Diagnostic Interviewing Workshop for front-line staff

Impact of the project

The Resource collections received a universal welcome from all eight companies. In four cases they were used to augment existing Training and Development resources. Feedback cited the following key benefits for employees: helping them to take responsibility for developing their own career management skills, acting as a trigger for action and as signposts to other information. The perceived value to the organisations was in demonstrating the company’s commitment to developing their staff, thereby improving motivation. The resources also helped staff to cope with organisational changes, such as restructuring, and were particularly valued as being impartial, having come from an outside agency.

The guidance interviews were experienced by all three recipients as very positive.
Impact could be measured by ‘soft’ outcomes, such as an increase in self-confidence and a feeling of being valued by their company. One person immediately enrolled on a course and the other two expressed a longer-term aim to do so.

The psychometric test perhaps had the most significant impact, particularly in terms of business development. It revealed an urgent need for the management team to either change their communication styles, or to recruit new members with different personality types. The participants felt this had been an extremely valuable experience; the HR manager described it as ‘a complete eye-opener’.

The Career Review Workshop again received 100% acclaim. Its chief value to the company was seen as offering the HR staff access to career planning techniques which they could then disseminate throughout the company. They also appreciated the opportunity it had afforded for developing their own team.

The Diagnostic Interviewing Workshop was praised as being extremely relevant to the needs of front-line staff, for enabling people to become more aware of the difference between advice and guidance and of the options for signposting and referral. All of this was reported to have led to greatly increased confidence.

Other activities to engage employers

Other activities to engage employers included:

Encouraging both HR and union representatives to attend a planning day for ‘Learning @ Work’ day [part of Adult Learners’ Week] by subsidising the cost of the conference fee, paying staff replacement and travel
Inviting key players in the workforce development agenda, such as Business Link and learndirect, to an ‘Exchange of Ideas’ session, with the aim of improving understanding of IAG services and improving collaborative working
Petitioning local employers who attended a conference about NVQs for their views on how to develop IAG services in the workplace
The outcomes were: access to free learning resources such as Training Needs Analysis tools, the highlighting of strategic implications for the LSC, and areas of employer concerns being expressed, as well as raising the profile of the GO IAG Partnership in a very positive way. All involved wanted to continue the contact.

IAG staff

The success of the IAG activities delivered to each of the four employers was due in large part to an accurate analysis of need, the ability to empathise with each employer and high-level negotiation, facilitation and counselling skills. IAG Partnerships seeking to work effectively with employers will need staff with a similarly high level of knowledge and skills, and the right personal qualities.

Knowledge

Working with employers means constantly working to their agenda, the priority being profitability and time pressures. Knowledge of the local labour market and typical HR practices are a minimum requirement. Just as important is being aware of national and local employment trends so that a company is not targeted at an inappropriate time. Having staff who know how to identify the right IAG interventions that will offer the most appropriate and cost-effective solution is also crucial.

Skills

IAG staff need to be able to communicate appropriately and effectively with people at different levels. They need to be able to enthuse line managers with ideas and be able to identify strategies for meeting employees’ development needs. In finding solutions, they will be demonstrating the impact and value which IAG resources can have on a business. It is vital to be an excellent facilitator and trainer.

Personal qualities

IAG staff must have the sensitivity and flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the individuals or groups involved. The ability to develop confidence and credibility and maintain relationships of trust is of paramount importance.

Marketing of IAG services

There is a clear need to market services that the employer needs in a language businesses will understand. The message is that professional and personal development can and does affect profitability and that IAG services can help employers to identify the most cost-effective ways to develop their employees, which will have maximum impact on the success of their business. Two great selling points of IAG partnerships are their impartiality and their extensive network of contacts.

In order to consolidate the work undertaken, those employers who have expressed interest and enthusiasm for this project need to be encouraged to act as ‘champions’ for IAG and for the Partnership within their own informal networks. The incentive for them must be continued support according to their need. Case Studies can be particularly effective as marketing tools, especially from within the same sector. Rather than simply extending the number of contacts being made, this sort of strategic marketing should take priority over expensive ‘global’ publicity.

The greatest need identified in this project was simply to tell employers where they could find information on learning and development. It should therefore be a priority to market those aspects of the IAG service which can best meet this need, for example, the Local Information Help line and the TAP into Learning database.

The value of working with intermediaries, such as Investor in People [IiP] advisers, HR professionals and union learning reps, to gain entry into organisations cannot be overstated. Exploit opportunities to share their marketing tools, such as newsletters.

The Information Booklet, produced for informal advisers on what the IAG Partnership has to offer, was welcomed as a training tool by representatives of all of these organisations in this project and could be useful for strategic marketing.

IAG network development

Work with employers raises issues of quality and capacity. Decisions need to be taken about who would be best placed to deliver fee-paying services, such as guidance interviews and psychometric assessments. It may be that the Partnership can build the credibility and confidence to deliver these itself by using existing partners. It could in time become a ‘preferred supplier’ for these services, offering them at competitive rates, compared to the large consultancies.

Active links and meaningful partnerships leading to coherent, integrated strategies need to be actively developed with staff of LSC Workforce Development teams, Business Link, Business Development managers of the local colleges and training providers such as learndirect and of the Connexions service, among others. There is much goodwill; the aim should be to seek out opportunities for cross-fertilisation and improved collaboration, in order to reduce the confusion felt by employers about the proliferation of learning and skills development services.

This has strategic implications for local LSCs, who manage contracts for many of the organisations listed above and are in a position to facilitate partnership working by reviewing delivery targets in order to allow more time for developmental activity.

Quality Devlopment Fund Project, Needs Assessment Tool


By Jan Jones and Mary Opie (Posted by Mary Opie, May 2003)
Needs Assessment Tool

Quality Development Fund

September 2002 - March 2003

This project on behalf of the Gloucestershire IAG Partnership, concentrated on developing a Needs Assessment Tool to assist front-line staff more effectively refer clients. The web-based version is now up and running on the GO website Opportunity Finder. The paper-based version will need some more fine tuning to be effective as indicated by the findings.

QDF Project – Needs Assessment Tool, undertaken on behalf of the Gloucestershire IAG Partnership by Jan Jones and Mary Opie

Project Summary

This project was carried out on behalf of the Gloucestershire Information Advice and Guidance Partnership [GO IAGP]. The rationale for this project was a perceived need to improve signposting and referrals by members of the Partnership in order to ensure that clients contact with the IAG service was productive and that resources were used more effectively. A particular concern was to find ways of ensuring that clients were only referred for a guidance interview when that is what they needed, rather than as a default option. It was hoped that more accurate signposting and referral would result in cost savings and that misdiagnosis of a client’s needs on initial contact, with detrimental effect on their subsequent usage of IAG services, would be avoided.


The aims and objectives of the project were:

to design a prototype paper-based IAG ‘needs identification tool’ in the form of a paper-based questionnaire, which could be used by front line staff or other staff making referrals within the Partnership
to select a range of partner agencies to trial it with
to offer briefing sessions in usage of the tool and support during the period of the trial to the selected partners
to gather feedback from both staff and clients who had participated in the trial
to evaluate the results and amend the tool accordingly
to develop an electronic version of the tool and seek feedback from service users on its efficacy or otherwise
to investigate the viability of using both versions to track clients

Project delivery

Research was undertaken to ascertain if there was anything similar already available and in use by IAG partnerships. The response to a telephone survey was that the majority of IAGPs were assessing clients’ needs by using trained staff and that this was the preferred option and more user-friendly. However, interest was expressed in the option of developing an on-line version of any needs assessment tool, so that clients unable to access a staffed service for whatever reason could still access a service on-line.

A prototype version of a tool in the shape of a flowchart was developed and called the ‘Needs Assessment Chart’ or NAC. It took the client through a series of linked questions about learning and work and was designed to identify both level of need and to suggest some appropriate resources. It was designed to fit onto one sheet of A4. An ICT company was commissioned to develop an on-line version of the NAC, called ‘Opportunity Finder’. In both cases, direct links were made to the relevant GO IAGP sources of information, namely the Resource Guide booklet and the GO website, both of which gave extensive contact details.



Pilot phase and results of pilot phase

Pilot Phase

In consultation with the GO IAGP project manager, 12 sites were selected in which the paper-based tool would be piloted. They represented a cross-section of agencies which it was thought might yield the most interesting results. It was considered that it would be more productive to introduce the NAC in a briefing session, visiting each site in person and talking to staff who would use it, rather than simply discussing the objectives of the trial by telephone, then sending the NAC by post. A training session was devised covering front-line service, models of guidance, assessment issues and principles of signposting and referral.

It was agreed that the on-line version would be promoted and piloted in 6 learndirect centres in a range of community settings. A similar programme was drawn up to be delivered by the Coordinator as part of his programme of regular site meetings.

Results of Pilot Phase

1. NAC

Returns of completed charts from partner organisations taking part in the pilot phase were extremely disappointing. The response rate, at an average of about 22%, was only marginally higher than one would expect from a questionnaire sent out ‘cold’, where returns usually register around 20%.

Reasons cited for the low return rate were as follows:

the chart was deemed not to be useful where experienced and trained staff already know what they are doing [Connexions and college]
the trial took place at the wrong time of year [college and libraries]
completing the form was seen as an additional burden on front-line staff, impeding rather than enhancing their work [Neighbourhood project]
acute staff shortages were experienced over a prolonged period in one centre, coinciding with the period of the trial [Neighbourhood project]
some sites have extremely low numbers of adult IAG clients [libraries]
the difficulty of trying to complete a piece of paper whilst taking an enquiry over the ‘phone [LSC reception]
From the data received it would appear that:

learning providers have a tendency to refer clients internally to their own services
only the Connexions service referred anyone for guidance
only one office of the Connexions services referred anyone for guidance externally, that is, to the GO Partnership advisers
There was, therefore, no evidence from this trial that large numbers of referrals are being made, either for guidance per se, or to the GO outreach staff. Despite the briefing sessions, many staff did not complete the flow chart to demonstrate the route chosen, the ‘Outcomes’ section, nor the client data section, so that tracking client outcomes proved impossible.

In the light of the above and the poor response rate, this data should not be given undue weight.

Feedback from staff

Generally, the more experienced staff were in dealing with IAG clients, the less helpful they found the chart. Using the chart was not found useful by staff of Connexions, the college or the neighbourhood projects
Staff at the libraries and the Job Centre welcomed having some kind of aid or checklist to use: The Reception team at the LSC found particular problems using a paper-based tool, as all their enquiries come over the phone
Staff at the learndirect centres acknowledged their tendency to offer internal services, observing that most of their clients already had a good idea of what they wanted. They welcomed the chart as an adjunct to their service
Nearly all respondents felt that there was too much information for one sheet of A4 and that this led to difficulties in reading and using it. This would be especially true for people with a visual disability. The format needed review.
Advice was sought on how to develop the NAC from a specialist in this field. It was suggested that two items were required for effective diagnosing and meeting of client need:

a ‘crib sheet’ for staff, and
a practical piece of information frontline staff could give out to clients which enhances their own sense of professional worth.
Rather than a flowchart, which does not allow enough room to explain how a particular resource might help,

Item 1 could take the form of a sheet of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ [FAQs] with key resources which might be used to answer each question listed below the question.

Item 2 could be a set of handouts for users to take away giving further details about each of the suggested resources and how they can help.

The handouts could be grouped together by theme, such as ‘Jobsearch’ and could be augmented to explain exactly how a particular resource could help answer a particular question. The descriptions need to be in plain English.

2. Opportunity Finder

The response rate for this aspect of the project was much more positive.

Once the tool was installed on the GO IAGP website, people began to use it. Evaluation was sought from users/clients as it was used on a self-help basis. Comments from users were overwhelmingly favourable.

They can be summarised under the following headings:

User friendliness

"it did stand out in my mind because it was so helpful..”

Accessability

“You can miss out because you don’t always know what’s out there…with this, the information’s all in one place…”

Getting the right information

“ ..it gave me all the detail I needed, more than I expected, in fact…”

Whilst the evidence was that the majority of users contacted were happy with the site in its current format, it was not clear from the data how many people had logged on and then left the site unsatisfied with what they had been offered. An external consultant was asked to review the on-line version of the needs assessment tool. He recommended making some changes to the GO IAGP website to make it more needs-based than resource-based. Some changes to the tool were instigated in line with this recommendation.

Summary of findings

There were several factors which influenced the execution of the project, for example, the existence of inconsistent databases of information about service providers. The recent exodus of Partnership staff meant that many partners had not had any personal contact with the Partnership for a considerable period of time. There was a feeling at the time of the trial of a certain loss of commitment to the purposes of the Partnership and of certain partners feeling unsupported. The time of year at which the trial had to be held was not auspicious [just before Christmas].

A wide variation in both the level of activity and the level of expertise in handling initial IAG enquiries was found between different sorts of Partnership members.

The chart trial highlighted some training needs for existing staff, especially those working in non-specialist or Associate partner organisations about how to signpost and refer and in the range, purpose and applicability of key IAG Resources.

No evidence was found for one of the assumptions underpinning this project, namely, that numbers of partners were referring clients for guidance inappropriately.

One of the desired outcomes of the ‘needs identification tool’ was for it to be multi-purpose, that is, not only to assess client need, but also to monitor signposting and referrals across partner organisations and to link this to the collection of client data. The general reluctance by partners to complete the chart fully, coupled with low usage rate of the chart, suggests that different mechanisms will be needed for each different activity.

Some partners appeared to have very low levels of usage by adult clients which has implications for marketing. Sometimes partners with premises within a few yards of each other were not working together or referring clients in either direction.

“ they don’t seem to know we are here…”

It was considered significant that no other IAGPs were using a paper-based ‘needs identification tool’. The view was expressed that there is a risk of administrative staff being asked to do more than they are either trained to do or paid for and that needs assessment is a subtle and skilful process, requiring training, practice and expertise, rather than a one-off event:

“One can never replace trained staff with a piece of paper”

The version of the paper-based tool devised for and used in the trial will have only limited applicability. The electronic version, known as ‘Opportunity Finder’ ,appears at this stage to have greater potential as a signposting tool and was welcomed by users, despite having structural flaws on a technical level.


Recommendations

The recommendations by the external consultant for two separate paper-based items to meet the assessment needs of clients and the information needs of staff, as described above, should be taken up.
GO IAG partners and their front-line staff should be invited to compile the suggested ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ sheets, based on their own experience, and handouts about the resources recommended to answer each one. Having ownership of the tools might encourage more usage.
The Disability Action Forum should be asked to check the format of any of these new products before completion.
Thought should be given to the costs and time implications of a radical review and redesign of the GO website, to refocus it from being resource-based to needs-based.
There is an urgent need for a comprehensive, ‘rolling’ programme of training and awareness–raising across the Partnership to focus on IAG resources, what they are and how they can help, as well as what each of the GO partner members specialises in. This is an essential prerequisite to improving the process of signposting and referrals across the Partnership
The preparation and regular updating of the Resource Guide should become a top priority.
The arrival of new staff should be used as an opportunity to re-think how existing partners are supported by GO.
The Partnership agreement, tiers of service and levels of membership should be reviewed. Those organisations where NVQs have been funded by the Partnership should be required to give advice and guidance to other members in the vicinity. Those whose main role is other than IAG should be Associates and are likely to require more support.
Marketing of partners to other partners and general networking needs to be improved, especially on a district basis.
Capitalise on the enthusiasm shown by certain Partnership members for more training on signposting and referrals e.g. learndirect, LSC, Jobcentre.



Birmingham and Solihull IAG Network - report on social housing sector

Report submitted by Martin Stilgoe

Birmingham and Solihull IAG network recently commissioned a piece of research aiming to explore the extent to which the social housing sector delivers IAG services to their clients, their awareness of the wider IAG network and their needs in relation to enhancing their own capacity to deliver IAG. The report was researched and written by Moriom Kamir.

Data was collected both through questionnaires and through structured interviews / visits.

Key findings included:

Only 29% of Housing Associations felt their employees had the necessary skills/experience to provide IAG services to their clients
This is in line with the 31% of associations that held IAG resources, prospectuses etc
60% of associations felt that IAG services would be beneficial to their clients
The report concludes with a proposed action plan for the network to engage more effectively with this vital sector. This reflects the desire by housing associations to provide / enhance their IAG services through training offered by the network and the opportunity to access resource funds.

IAG Evaluation Strategy

IAG Evaluation Strategy

Report submitted by Diane McAdam The West of England IAG Partnership have developed an evaluation strategy that may be of wider interest, including other IAG partnerships and related organisations wishing to compare and contrast strategy and findings.
Evaluation Priority One

To ensure provision of a co-ordinated local network of information advice and guidance on opportunities for learning and work.

Evaluation Priority Two

To ensure that all members of the community, with no upper age limit, have access to information and advice, which are available free of charge, with particular attention given to the needs of the most disadvantaged clients.

Evaluation Priority Three

To ensure information, advice and guidance services meet the relevant qualirty standards for learning and work.

Evaluation Priority Four

To work with the LSC to ensure coherence between local information, advice and guidance services and other related services. Assessment of the effectiveness of current local working arrangements between the Partnership and other related services.

Evaluation Priority Five

IAG Partnerships should have in place a marketing strategy as marketing and promotion of local IAG Services is key to raising client awareness of Information, Advice and Guidance services on offer and how to access them.

Additional activities

Assessment of effectiveness of referral policies and procedures in enabling access to appropriate IAG services, through gathering feedback on client satisfaction with incoming Referrals (and where possible outgoing) as part of client feedback mechanisms
Assessment of the effectiveness of the database / directory as a referral tool through gathering member views through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: level of usage, ease of operation, usefulness of information, future improvements.

IAG Evaluation Strategy - evaluation priorities

More detail on the five evaluation priorities.
Evaluation Priority One

Evaluation of effectiveness of the management, operation and promotion of the Network in meeting this objective through:

Semi-structured interviews with a sample of Network Reps and frontline staff from member organisations and representatives from the strategic groups (e.g., Learning Partnerships and Sub-Groups,) and postal questionnaire to others. Include summary of improvements as a result of last year’s base survey. Measures will include: reasons/cost/benefits/problems with involvement in the Network, achievement of their objectives, future improvements, ideas for future direction/activities, communication, relationships with partners, effectiveness of Network Steering Group, perception of impact of Network on co-ordinating IAG Services, and integrating IAG into lifelong learning developments
Develop case studies profiling how IAG has supported 15 member organisations to develop their IAG services
Develop case studies profiling the business benefits of IAG in the workplace
Develop a system (linked to national criteria, as they develop) to measure the impact the Partnership is having on building the capacity of member organizations to deliver IAG services – to include levels of delivery, ability to be self-supporting, involvement in training/quality: 30 interviews; 60 questionnaires; 15 case studies; 8 employer case studies
Analysis of findings and recommendations
Evaluation Priority Two

Assessment of expansion/targeting of IAG services to meet client need as identified in the Business Plan and identifying any gaps in provision/usage to inform business planning

Gather and analyse MI stats (according to LSC requirements) to assess penetration of services to priority groups.
Develop and implement a system for monitoring information sessions at unmediated and mediated sites
Develop and agree a protocol for gathering MI stats from organisations not currently funded for delivery, but supported either in past years or via current training and resources
Update IAG database/directory to build picture of current provision and capacity
Research up to date LMI and community profiles to identify current priority client groups
Assessment of level of client satisfaction with I&A services funded by the Partnership

Revise self assessment process for members funded for delivery to be implemented across Partnership for 2003/04 grant allocation process (include summary of client feedback analysis)
Develop client cases studies which include feedback about the service (linked to national database)
Assessment of the impact on client lives of the I&A services funded by the Partnership

Gather data to assess impact through including questions in the LSC Household Survey
Develop client case studies which demonstrate impact of services
Analysis of the effectiveness of Partnership in reaching priority groups (System implemented; Protocol developed; Basic Info session’s data gathered; Updated database/directory of IAG services; Priority groups for 2003/04 and identified gaps in provision; Self-assessment process revised; 15 case studies; Initial indication of impact
15 case studies; Gathering data ongoing; and Analysis)
Devise a framework for impact assessment for all members (especially those with Funding Agreements) including evidence-based practice – ideas for methods include: focus groups, video box, taped interviews, pen pictures, snapshotting, training for members on evaluation methods
Contribute to a major HE led proposal for funding to enable assessment of IAG interventions on clients lives
Assessment of effectiveness of referral policies and procedures in enabling access to appropriate IAG services, through:

Gather and analyse data on destination and volumes of outgoing referrals
Gather member’s views on Referrals process as part of semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire with members (as for Objective ‘1’ above).
Undertake review of Referrals Policy and Procedures using data gathered through methods 1-3 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Evaluation Priority Three

Assessment of continuing effectiveness of the Partnership’s approach to supporting Member organisations to achieve and maintain accreditation

Monitor members progress through Action Plans towards achieving and maintaining accreditation
Gather Member’s views on the support available from the Partnership as part of the Member’s Survey (see Objective 1 above). Measures will include: level of uptake of workshops / 1:1 consultancy and reasons identified, level of satisfaction with support, future improvements
Undertake a review of Quality Standards support, using data gathered through methods 1-2 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Assessment of the effectiveness of Training and Development activities facilitated by the Partnership in contributing to Quality Standards accreditation and supporting Organisations to develop their IAG services

Research T&D needs
Devise and implement a standard evaluation process for all T&D sessions to assist analysis of feedback
Gather participants views on T&D sessions through evaluation sheets
Gather participants views on accredited T&D programmes through:
Session evaluation sheets; Interim review (questionnaire followed by group discussion); End of Programme reviews (postal questionnaire to participants and line managers). Measures will include: assessment of learning process, achievement of objectives, trainee satisfaction, qualifications gained, contribution to improving IAG services
Undertake a review of T&D support using data gathered through methods 1-4 above and make recommendations / improvements as required
Evaluation Priority Four

Assessment of the effectiveness of current local working arrangements between the Partnership and other related services

Research and evaluate current working arrangements to identify transferable good practice.
Gather views of Partnership Members and representatives from related services through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: communication and relationship with Network members, perception of impact of working arrangements in building coherence between services and future improvements
Devise a framework for gathering data, on demand for learning, as part of monitoring of I&A delivery to highlight gaps in learning provision, to inform LSC – Community Learning Service
Evaluation Priority Five

Assessment of the Partnership approach to raising its profile amongst Member, potential member and other partner organisations

Monitor expansion of the Partnership against identified target potential members
Undertake research to establish the level of integration of IAG within the strategic and development plans of related services / partner organisations
Gather views of Partnership Members and representatives from related services through semi-structured interviews/postal questionnaire (as for Objective 1). Measures will include: perception of the purpose and value of the Partnership in supporting them to achieve their organisation’s objectives
Assessment of the Partnership approach to raising its profile of Information Advice and Guidance amongst client groups

Gather data to assess awareness and uptake of IAG services by including questions in the LSC Household Survey
Analyse MI stats to identify uptake of services by target client groups and highlight gaps in uptake (see p2 a i)
Undertake a review of Marketing strategy in relation to both above objectives using data gathered through all above methods

Results of the West of England IAG Partnership Evaluation 2002/3

March 2003, report submitted by Dianne McAdam.

As part of the West of England IAG Partnership Evaluation Strategy we undertook a survey of our 169 member organisations to evaluate the performance of the IAGp management process from their perspective. This identified that, for example, 97% felt membership of the Network had helped improve their IAG services: mechanisms include training, advice, funding, resources and support.

Summary of key findings

The evaluation survey was sent to all 169 member organisations in the 4 IAG networks which constitute the West of England IAG Partnership. A similar survey was sent to a small sample of non-members. Recommendations emerging from the survey for action in 2003/4 are indicated in italics. Note: 39 members’ questionnaires were completed and returned representing a response rate of 23%. 12 interviews were also conducted.

All respondents to the survey value the IAG Networks
89% would recommend joining the network to a colleague
53% said the network exceeded their expectations
97% felt the Network had helped them to improve their services
They identified the main functions of the networks:

providing training to help organisations improve their services
networking for organisations which deal with learning and work
improving and maintaining high quality IAG services for clients
increasing access to IAG for under-represented groups
The main advantages of being Members:

networking opportunities and access to other organisations
funding to improve services for clients
training
professional advice
up-to date-information
support
The disadvantages of Membership identified in the survey were:

insecure nature of short term funding
time constraints
members capacity to participate
cost of Matrix accreditation
The creation of the West of England IAG Partnership had brought benefits:

improved training opportunities
bigger directory of services
more informative Newsletters
more cohesive Network

Involvement in the IAG networks

Membership of the networks is extremely diverse, ranging from large providers such as FE Colleges to small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) working with specific groups of clients. The survey indicated that members from large organisations generally benefit from higher levels of participation in network activities than VCOs. Many members from most small organisations do not have the time or staffing capacity to be able to take up training opportunities, attend meetings and digest the significant amount of information they receive from the network. Any lack of awareness or knowledge about the Network activities or processes correlates strongly with lack of time, rather than lack of information.


IAG training programme

IAG training programme

Training has been a focus for activity in 2002/3 thanks to significant additional resources from National IAG Quality Development Fund (QDF project). 36% respondents had involved their staff in the NVQ training programme and 61% had taken up other training offered by the partnership. The prospectus of training was valued. Although numbers of participants has exceeded the target set for the QDF project, the survey shows that there are still many organisations which have not been able to participate in the training programme due to lack of time and resource to cover delivery whilst staff train – QDF project staff will try to address this during the final 4 months of the project. A key issue for 2003/4 will be how to sustain the training programme once the additional QDF funding ceases.

Networking and coherence with other key bodies

The 2001/2 members survey recommended that a focus for network development should be enabling members to develop closer links with other network members. The current survey indicates that this strategy is paying off, with 62% respondents now indicating that they did not need to further develop their links with other members because their current links were good. Members state that they are working towards the same goals rather than competing, and that through the IAG Network they now work collaboratively on joint projects. The Partnership and Networks also play a valuable role in terms of enhancing “joined up working” with key bodies such as LSC, Connexions, JobCentre Plus and Basic Skills providers. 73% of respondents indicated they would like to further enhance these links – clearly a worthwhile target activity for 2003/4.

Quality standards/Matrix

During 2002/3 Matrix was introduced at national level to replace the previous Quality Standards, which many W o E members had achieved. The survey indicated that whilst some members valued the process of achieving the standards, significant numbers of members only have a minimal understanding of Matrix. Whilst the majority of respondents recognise the benefits that can accrue in terms funding opportunities, enhanced services for clients and personal development, there is general dissatisfaction about the imposed change. A key anxiety is how to meet the cost of Matrix accreditation. This has been compounded by lack of clarity about the detail of forthcoming national policy on the issue of financial support for VCOs applying for Matrix. If insufficient support is made available, there will be serious implications for revising the W of E partnership delivery strategy,as more than more than 80% of IAG delivery is currently devolved to Members. Due to the costs, it may be that in future some members opt to become Associate rather than full Members. During 2003/4 the Partnership may wish to explore ways to develop some minimum quality criteria related to Matrix, for Associate Members.

On the general issue of quality monitoring, there was some indication from members that, in addition to monitoring range and quantity of IAG provision, Network steering groups should audit the quality. This would to further increase confidence of members in each other, bringing many benefits including improved client referral. The explicit monitoring of quality of IAG delivery is a potential activity for 2003/4.

Client referral

Members indicated that since joining the IAG Network they have a greater awareness of the services other members can provide and feel more confident about referring clients. The Networks have facilitated referrals between Members and to learning and work providers. This survey indicated that the IAG Network referral forms and procedures are not widely used, mainly because members use their own in-house referral procedures or make telephone referrals. There are a clearly a group of clients for whom supported referral is necessary. A number of members have significant numbers of clients referred to them by non-members. A lack of clarity at national level concerning the definition of a referral means that data gathered by Networks on referral are unreliable at present - this is clearly an area for improvement in 2003/4. The survey identified some useful suggestions from members to help achieve improvements to the referral procedures and monitoring.

Members’ suggestions for improving the Networks in 2003/4 include ideas on:

improved communication and member involvement
funding for IAG delivery and staff replacement
referral procedures
Matrix accreditation
publicity
coherence with Connexions service provision