Understanding Skills Demand – Five Ways to Smart LMI
The pressure is on to ensure that skills funding delivers the maximum impact and offers the best value for money for learners, employers and the economy.
Scarce resources need to be used responsively and targeted where they will deliver the best outcomes, and cost-effective, high-quality labour market intelligence (LMI) can play a key role in making this happen. Emergent Thinking #5 mines our 20 years’ experience in LMI work, and sets out five key lessons for organisations involved in the learning and skills sector.
Emergent have now completed their Community Impact Assessment for Bromley College. Based on a review of existing data sources and fieldwork with partners and stakeholders in Spring 2015, the report highlighted the economic and social impact the College is having in its local community in five areas. This included:
- The difference the College makes to its 9,000 learners, in terms of how successful they are in learning, their satisfaction with the service provided by the College and their progression in employment or further learning.
- How the College is helping to meet the needs of local employers through, for example, the development of new facilities, its Apprenticeship service and its employability offer.
- The College’s impact as an employer in its own right, providing quality jobs to 634 people, with salaries paid adding £6.5m to the Bromley economy and £12m to that of Greater London.
- The economic impact of its £9m spend on goods and services, around half of which goes to local suppliers.
- The role Bromley College plays in local partnership initiatives and projects, where it is seen as taking on an active and leading role, helping to make local services more inclusive, developing and improving education and training services, and engaging well with the voluntary and community sector.
The report also highlighted a number of areas where the college can work to further improve its services and community impact and helped inform the development of the College’s new Strategic Plan.
“The Community Impact Assessment has proved to be useful tool in the process of reviewing our strategy and improving our services, as we look ahead over the next five years.”
Sam Parrett, Principal, Bromley College
As part of our commitment to supporting civil society organisations who share our goals, we delivered a pro bono training workshop called Measuring Impact – an Introduction to the Evaluation of Projects and Services for Merseyside Social Enterprises in the spring of 2015. Steve Matthews and Dr Jonathan Pratt took delegates through the essentials of what is involved in impact measurement and evaluation; how to develop a theory of change; coming up with the key research questions; and identifying or developing ways of gathering the data needed to demonstrate impact.
The workshop was part of the Social Enterprise Network’s Get Savvy with Social Enterprise programme, which offered a range of workshops to members on subjects including marketing, funding and trading for sustainability. People attending the event reflected the wide ranging nature of the social enterprise community on Merseyside, with organisations involved in, for example, counselling, addressing issues of fuel poverty, social justice and sustainability, and developing children’s connection with nature.
“Our thanks to Emergent for supporting our Social Enterprise training programme. Members who attended the workshop really appreciated the range of subjects covered, as well as Steve and Jonathan’s accessible and easy style of delivery.”
Patrick Hurley, Research and Policy Development Officer, Social Enterprise Network
Emergent completed its impact assessment work for Bolton College early in 2015, producing two reports: one providing a summary of the College’s overall impact on the local community and the other focused specifically on its Community Learning Service.
The research took place at a time of significant change and challenges relating to Apprenticeship provision and some curriculum areas in the college. The overall Community Impact Assessment, based on data provided by the College and depth interviews with local partners and stakeholders, noted these challenges but highlighted much of the good work going on too. This included the College’s active role in working with local partners to deliver local skills and employment strategies, and in helping local residents progress in the labour market across a responsive range of vocational areas. Both of these positives were subsequently noted in the College’s OFSTED report.
The report also considered the College’s role as a major employer in the town and as a buyer of goods and services (together worth around £20m to the Bolton economy), and identified a number of ways that the College could improve its performance in terms of environmental impact and sustainability.
The Community Learning Impact Assessment explored the role that the College and partners play in working with adults to engage them in learning and help them to progress in terms of skills, qualifications and employability. In a challenging local economic and social context, the Service has been increasingly focused on engaging and helping disadvantaged groups to progress into vocationally related learning and work. Our report noted that the Service is not only reaching the local population which has significant areas of need, but is also positively focused on those places where the need is greatest. There was also evidence of the Service’s high quality and use of a range of highly innovative practices, including the network of Community Learning Ambassadors and Community Learning Hubs.
“We found Emergent’s work really helpful, both in helping us to understand what we are doing well, and how our services can be improved. I would happily recommend them to other Colleges.”
Sharon Marriott, Director of Adults and HE, Bolton College
Emergent Research concluded its third successful and profitable year of trading in November 2013. As a result, we’ve been able to make charitable donations, as set out in our Social and Environmental Commitment (see: http://www.emergentresearch.co.uk/ethics/). This year we’ve made donations to organisations in the north west, where we now have a presence in Liverpool.
We donate 10% of our after-tax profits to organisations which support young people, improve the lives of older people, and protect and restore the natural environment. Although the donations are not huge, we hope it goes some way towards creating the kind of world that we would like to be part of. This year’s donations are:
Young people: the Whitechapel Centre Liverpool, to help towards the costs of the charity’s Enablement Centre, which works with the increasing number of young people in the Liverpool City Region who find themselves homeless.
Older people: Age UK Bolton, in its work to overcome loneliness and isolation, to contribute to the travel costs of befriending volunteers who visit older people and to help older people get out to afternoon tea sessions.
Natural Environment: the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, to support the core conservation team in its work to manage sites, campaign and work with local communities to achieve the Trust’s Living Landscapes and Living Seas vision.
We also continue to apply our self-imposed “tax” on car usage, paying ourselves 5p less per mile than the standard Revenue mileage allowance of 45p in order to discourage car use, donating the difference to Rainforest Concern. The aim is not to offset unsustainable behaviour but to encourage the use of more sustainable transport. Our self-imposed tax is roughly 10 times the mileage offsetting rates commonly used in carbon offsetting schemes. This year’s donation is lower than in previous years because we have managed to significantly reduce our use of car travel. Rainforest Concern will use this year’s donation towards purchase important parcels for the Neblina Reserve in northwest Ecuador.
Emergent Research worked in partnership with Nairne Ltd to evaluate DEFRA’s 2008 – 2013 European funded LEADER rural development programme. This wide ranging project considered the outcomes and impact of the programme against its original aims, and identified areas where the programme could be improved further under subsequent funding rounds.
The research considered a variety of quantitative and qualitative data sources and involved working with a wide range of partners, from the private, public and voluntary / community sectors.
“The evaluation team did a great job in both demonstrating how as a partnership we had made a difference in rural East Sussex, but also helped us see how we could work better and make more of a difference in future.”
Hamish Monro, Chairman, WARR Partnership
The evaluation and our support with the preparation of a new funding bid helped the partnership to secure further funding under the new round of the LEADER programme for the period 2015 – 2020.
Emergent Research teamed up with the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) to investigate how better training can improve the performance of small building companies. The research was part of a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) supported programme to help small firms engage with opportunities arising from Green Deal and retrofit programmes, and also improve their overall business management skills.
Working with builders across the UK, the project involved a market survey of demand for training relating to energy efficient homes and micro-renewable energy, and a comparative evaluation of the different approaches to flexible and bite-sized management training delivery developed by the FMB Training Services. This enabled FMB to clarify what types of training were most useful to businesses and how delivery could be improved to better meet companies’ needs.
“The research gave us some really useful insights into how our training services can be developed to have more of an impact with small and medium-sized building firms.”
Hayley Ellis, Director of Training, FMB
East Kent College has completed its first Community Impact Assessment, delivered by Emergent Research and Consulting Ltd. Based on an analysis of a wide range of data sets for 2012/2013 and depth interviews with key partners and stakeholders, the report highlights the local economic and social impact of the College in five key areas:
- The College’s impact through learners in terms of the achievement, progression and satisfaction of its 5,800 students.
- Its impact through business customers by working to match its services to the needs of the local economy and improving levels of customer satisfaction.
- Its impact as a local employer, being one of the largest, better paying employers in East Kent, with 320 staff and salaries contributing £5.5m to the East Kent economy.
- The College’s impact through purchasing local goods and services, with around a third of its suppliers by value based in East Kent and over half in Kent.
- The College’s active role in local partnerships to drive local regeneration and its commitment to working with the community to address social and economic deprivation.
Overall, the report estimates that the economic value of the College to East Kent, above and beyond the value to students and businesses of the learning it delivers, was in excess of £29m in 2012/2013.
“Through the Community Impact Assessment, Emergent Research and Consulting have done a great job in enabling us and our partners to see how we are making a difference to our local community, while also helping us to see how we could improve our impact.” Graham Razey, Principal, East Kent College
In follow-up work with the College, Emergent is now supporting an internal review of the quality and efficiency of data collection and analysis methods to support further improvements in services to learners and employers.
No.4 Online Social Networks and Community Development
Our recent evaluation of Project Dirt, the green social network, offered a tantalising glimpse of the significant potential that online spaces have for supporting local community development.
In this edition of Emergent Thinking we consider ‘place-based’ online communities, the ways they can facilitate local action, and how those interested in community development may be able to work with online networks more effectively.
With our accounts for December 2011-November 2012 now filed, we’ve been able to make charitable donations, as set out in our Environmental and Social Commitment (http://www.emergentresearch.co.uk/ethics/).
We donate 10% of our after-tax profits to organisations which support young people, improve the lives of older people, and protect and restore the natural environment. As we are a small business the size of our donations is not huge, but we hope it goes some way towards creating the kind of world that we would like to see. This year’s donations are:
Young People: Thanington Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Canterbury to help towards new equipment for the youth club.
Older People: Thanington Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Canterbury to contribute to the running of social activities for older residents.
Natural Environment: South East Rivers Trust (working with Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership) to support work to enhance biodiversity in the Lower Stour area, near Canterbury.
We also continue to apply our self-imposed “tax” on car usage, paying ourselves 5p less per mile than the standard Revenue mileage allowance of 45p in order to discourage car use, donating the difference to Rainforest Concern. The aim is not to offset unsustainable behaviour but to encourage the use of more sustainable transport. Our self-imposed tax is roughly 10 times the mileage offsetting rates commonly used in carbon offsetting schemes.
Rainforest Concern will use this year’s donation to continue to purchase important parcels for the Neblina Reserve in northwest Ecuador. The Neblina Reserve forms an important link in the southern section of the Choco-Andean Corridor, enabling the migration of species between large blocks of protected forest at either end. This particularly benefits endangered mammals such as pumas, ocelots and spectacled bears that require large ranges of territory to maintain viable populations.