Tag: skills

Innovation in tackling productivity challenges: UK Futures

We have been pleased to assist the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in promoting their UK Futures innovation programme, a series of competitions targeting workforce development challenges.

Competitions have included:

  • tackling low pay and progression in retail and hospitality
  • encouraging ‘anchor institutions‘ to bring forward new and better ways of helping to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills in small firms. Such organisations are described as those that have an important presence in the local community and make some strategic contribution to the local economy.
  • addressing the gender pay and opportunity gap in cleaning, catering and social care

Derrick Johnstone’s role as an UKCES Associate was to identify organisations likely to be interested in these competitions (for themselves or their networks) and generate interest amongst them, and then provide independent advice to prospective bidders on behalf of UKCES. The aim was to stimulate high quality bids which have real potential to influence future practice and policy.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation ran a joint event, Better Jobs, Better Business with UKCES in March 2016. It sought to explore the support needed to create a virtuous circle of higher skills, job progression and improved business performance, and featured case studies from the UK Futures competition on pay and progression in retail and hospitality, including the Living Wage Foundation, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, and the National Coastal Training Academy. One output is the Hospitality Skills Toolkit which seeks to help employers grow their businesses with gains flowing to their staff as well as their bottom lines.

The overall evaluation of the UK Futures programme highlights benefits to business through partnership not least in sharing information, learning and resources.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1311

Economic Growth Advisor

The Economic Growth Advisor (EGA) programme was introduced by the Local Government Association in 2014 to promote, facilitate and enhance the role of local authorities in delivering economic growth. Derrick Johnstone was recruited to the panel of EGAs, whose role has been to offer bespoke advice and support to individual local authorities.trdc-logo

Derrick advised Three Rivers District Council in Hertfordshire:

  • providing a fresh look at the local evidence base around economic growth, contributing to an updated Economic Profile
  • preparing a ‘critical friend’ report to the Management Board recommending steps to sharpen the Council’s approach to economic development
  • identifying good practice advice on introducing a Business Charter
  • advising on the content and structure of a revised Economic Development Strategy.

The ‘critical friend’ role was particularly appreciated, highlighting how, in low cost ways, the Council can add more value in pursuit of economic growth.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1286

Employer ownership of skills

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has a priority to give employers greater responsibility and ownership in developing the skills needed for growth, not least through the BIS-funded Employer Ownership of Skills (EOS) pilot programme. This is funding innovative, collaborative, employer-led projects capable of transforming the delivery of training and making a significant economic impact. employer-ownership-prospectus-cover

Derrick Johnstone was recruited to the UK Commission’s network of well-connected Associates who bring  specialist expertise, knowledge and skills into the organisation, to supplement and develop internal capability around the implementation of these funds. He was recognised for his specialism in ‘local and regional skills and employment interventions and economic development’.

Associate roles included:

  • specialist advice in the form of reports, presentations or expert papers
  • working with employers granted support to develop outline bids to full applications
  • working alongside UK Commission staff to develop and/or implement new approaches

Tasks have involved reviewing how Local Enterprise Partnerships are developing their role around skills, serving as an assessor in appraising bids under the second round of the Employer Ownership of Skills programme, and seeking early feedback on progress and learning from successful projects.

Derrick’s latest role is in support of the UKCES Futures programme. This promotes innovation in addressing current or anticipated workforce development problems that get in the way of improved business performance.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1120

Getting Universal Jobmatch stats

Archive post: Universal Jobmatch was replaced by Find a job on 14 May 2018.

Have you tried to use Universal Jobmatch to access data on job vacancies? If so, you may have been shocked and dismayed by what you found.UJ logo2

Universal Jobmatch (UJ) is intended to be a “new best of breed online service” for jobseekers and employers, intended to transform DWP’s labour market services, automatically matching jobseekers to jobs based on their skills and CV. It is run by Monster, on a £15m contract over four years. It is a potentially very valuable source of data, and the contract specification included requirements for LMI summary tools. UJ data replaced those from the Jobcentre Plus notification system which ceased in November 2012, and was expected by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide a more comprehensive picture and offer improvements in how the data can be accessed and used. Possible UJ analyses include vacancies by industry and occupation; numbers of employers with vacancies; and qualification levels amongst jobseekers and levels required by employers.
UJ reports home page

However, closer examination of UJ raises many concerns, several of which have recently surfaced on the Labour Market Statistics Group on StatsUserNet. The serious deficiencies are very unfortunate at a time when there are increasing concerns about skills mismatches, the quality of jobs and careers advice, and LEPs working with partners on skills strategies and local EU growth programmes.

First, there are issues about how the UJ statistical reports function works – with no guidance and descriptions of the data (metadata) provided. Drop down menus for local authority areas stop part way through the alphabet (tough if you’re after East Devon on one and Kingston upon Thames on another). You can derive top ten rankings, eg, for occupational groups – which generates a bar chart where you need to hover your cursor to see what the bars contain. You have the option to download into Excel, and all this provides is a picture and no data.

monthly trend reportSecondly, UJ does not use conventional classifications, for geography, industry or occupation. The contract spec for UJ expected the use of Standard Industrial and Standard Occupational Classification (SIC & SOC) codes, but UJ currently uses Monster’s own taxonomy. Monster’s US origins are evident in the report on qualifications held by jobseekers where ‘Some High School Coursework’ and ‘High School or equivalent’ are categories. User interfaces are, however, tailored to Britain: when employers post vacancies, they are asked to select job location regions, though these correspond more to ITV broadcasting (Anglia, Tyne-Tees, etc) rather than administrative regions. Analysis of the industry breakdown of vacancies is made problematic by the high proportion which feature under ‘Staffing/Employment Agencies’, rather than the sector concerned. Looking at data for Hertfordshire in March, for instance, showed 55% of all vacancies in this category.

Thirdly, UJ is typically capturing a different profile of vacancies than the previous JCP system, with many more managerial and professional posts and many fewer low skill or no skill vacancies.  There are also oddities which seem difficult to explain: the StatsUserNet discussion, for instance, commented on numbers of vacancies for ‘diplomats’ in the Tees Valley and Cumbria.

It’s important to understand how the new system works, combining as it does posts entered by employers, bulk uploads from ‘job warehouse’ sites, and other vacancies ‘scraped’ (by agreement) from the Internet. In this, there is relevant learning to be gained from the USA, where the Department of Labor has supported projects which made use of data using online job postings for real-time LMI. This experience offers a good number of warnings, for instance about the likelihood of duplicated postings, under-representation of jobs in smaller companies and in rural areas, and of variations by sector, locality and level of geographic analysis.

It’s sad that DWP and Monster have not adopted a more open and inviting approach to improving the site – it’s far from co-design principles that get the best out of interactive websites. In the August 2012 DWP Quarterly Statistical Summary, there was an article which explained DWP’s new approach to vacancy statistics, inviting comments and referring to a six-month beta stage.

There was a statement in Parliament (Hansard, 4 June 2013) that DWP and Monster had a timetable for prioritising and implementing improvements, but this had not been made public.

Finally, while these are gripes from a labour market analysis perspective, spare a thought for jobseekers. It’s not difficult to find criticisms of how the system works for them. It’s very serious: Jobseekers Allowance claimants could be required to look for work using Universal Jobmatch , or risk losing their benefit.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1183

Smarter Partnerships

The Smarter Partnerships website was designed to helps users improve partnership skills and performance.

It included:

  • interactive tools to assist individuals, cross-agency teams and partnerships assess both (i) partnership development and (ii) individual and team learning needs. Work your way through the stages, and get advice for actions you can take, appropriate to your circumstances.
  • on-line resources: case studies, tools and links to help users address learning needs and improve partnership working

Smarter Partnerships was one of the first partnership toolkits to be developed, and was for a long time the only freely available one which was genuinely interactive, in allowing users to assess their partnership, and their learning needs in real time, and receive feedback on what they can do to address these needs.

We continued to have approaches from other organisations to make use of the materials. Smarter Partnerships tools have featured in their ‘Support for Collaborative Contracting’ package (Learning and Skills Improvement Service), developed to support supply chain partnerships amongst learning providers. Other examples of use included adaptation for an adult basic skills partnership and for an aboriginal drugs and alcohol partnership in Perth, Western Australia.

Smarter Partnerships was developed by Educe for the Employers Organisation for Local Government – now part of the Local Government Association. The project was originally funded by the then Department for Education and Skills, and built on a ‘state of the art’ review ( pdf 205KB) in 2000 of partnerships and local government.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=139

Doncaster Work & Skills Plan

Derrick Johnstone advised Doncaster Council and the Work and Skills Steering Group of Doncaster Together on their Work and Skills Plan. This built on the Local Economic Assessment and set out to make the most of the added value of partnership working, in the context of far-reaching changes in funding and national policy. It provided the basis for discussions on the introduction locally of the DWP Work Programme, and prioritised action around employer engagement; labour market intelligence; information, advice and guidance; and targeted support for individuals and families. It has also informed the work of South Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership on skills.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=278