We know that Welsh public sector, and particularly local government is struggling to recruit people with the right skills into digital, data and technology roles. We also recognise that this skills gap isn’t just a challenge that will be fixed by recruitment. There’s a need to grow skills for existing authority staff as well, across all roles and seniorities.
We hear from a lot of local authority staff that they don’t know where to go to develop these skills or what to look for. We have been delivering training across a broad range of skills and have had some great feedback, and we are working closely with authorities to target courses for this year. However, we’re aware that this is a very short term and tactical fix for the larger skills and capability gap.
Launching Learning Frameworks
To support closing this gap, we’re launching self-guided Learning Frameworks for Content Design and User Research:
- Content Design was chosen because we know from our Communities and Working Groups that there are existing skills in this space that staff are interested in developing.
- User Research was chosen because it is the central tenet of human centred design, and that there are staff doing some of this in their roles with limited understanding of best practice.
The frameworks provide a skills and development matrix which gives structure, resources and support for learners to gain and develop new skills in digital roles. The matrices are flexible, split into specific topics which learners can pick to focus on, and explain the specific skills learners will gain and how they can demonstrate these in their roles going forwards.
We were going to call them Learning Pathways but that implied a linear progression through from start to end. Users of these frameworks don’t need to start, or finish in a specific place. This non-linear approach also helps address the limited time authority staff have to build skills and put these into practice, which we know is a common issue.
The Learning Frameworks will be continuously updated and iterated as new research, standards and best practice information is released to ensure they remain up to date. In true user-centred design fashion, we’ve already iterated these based on user feedback before launch, but we’ll continue to do this as well. We’re very happy that these aren’t definitive and will alter as time passes.
The frameworks will also be supported by Communities of Practice set up by the WLGA Digital team as a forum for staff to discuss ideas and share best practice, work through challenges, and share their experience of the learning. We’ll be offering mentoring and training opportunities for staff to take part in to help boost their skills as well.
The skills matrices are now available online, for anyone working across Welsh local government to access:
We’re launching our Content Design Community of Practice on Tuesday 29th November, and the User Research group will be starting in the new year. We’re currently working with CDPS to source the training to support the frameworks and will have more news about this out towards December.
We’ll be sharing the information about the frameworks, COPs and training via our newsletter, and you can sign up on our website to receive this so you don’t miss out. If you’d like to book on now, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and give us the names to add onto our list. You can see a recording of the launch session here.
It’s important these frameworks aren’t purely for digital practitioners. We know we hit this demographic in a lot of our engagement work, and that we’re preaching a lot of the time to the converted. This is the opportunity to develop learning that anyone in any role in an authority can pick up and take part in. It’s important that this is the case to ensure a net gain of digital understanding and user focus across the different services and authorities.
We see the frameworks as an opportunity to work transparently, share our work and findings across the different sectors, and support the ambition to close these skills gaps across the public sector in Wales.
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