Valuing our professional differences

LLUK held their annual seminar at the Scottish parliament on 15th September. The discussion was chaired by Martyn Wade, LLUK Council Member and Chair of LLUK’s Scotland Committee and focused on workforce development. The specific challenge was ‘how do we create a single lifelong learning workforce for Scotland’s future?’

LLUK has six constituencies: HE, FE, Community Learning and Development, Work Base Learning, Libraries Archives and Information Services (LAIS), and Career Guidance. The immediate response is, of course, whether this is a ‘good thing’ and then shouldn’t we be celebrating our unique contribution since we all meet the needs of our customers with proven success? Each of the sectors had a chance to put forward ways of joining up approaches to CPD, common standards and qualifications, sharing of resources and ways of overcoming barriers.

The discussions were of particular interest in a week when LLUK proposed changing the title of the LAIS National Occupation Standards (NOS) to Knowledge management services, Information and knowledge management services, or Information and knowledge services. In a stated attempt to avoid jargon, the title of one section is suggested at ‘Managing the interface with the customer’. During the development of the last set of NOS, LLUK promoted a generic approach but we have to consider what defines our profession, wide as it already is. We have to balance new skills with traditional, professional ones.

In an interesting discussion, the group agreed that shared competencies and values can sit comfortably at the core and accommodating the uniqueness of sector partners is vital. The event was followed by a Garden Lobby sponsored by Des McNulty MSP.

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Meeting etc

A lot going on recently and I have been at Brighton University, making my last visit as an external examiner so a bit behind on writing up. We have been engaged on an extensive programme of meetings on workplace information literacy issues with a view to devising a programme of action.

On Monday 24th November we were in Inverclyde (reported by Christine) and on Tuesday 25th we attended a meeting of the Everyday Skills Committee of the Scottish Trades Unions Congress to report on our work and explain what IL is. Our presentation was well received by the Union Learning Representatives who are members of this committee. (Union learning reps are there to help the members / staff in their organisations develop the skills they require everyday in the workplace with a particular focus on literacy and numeracy). The representatives from the Fire Brigade’s Union had recently completed a survey of the level of staff skills in order to develop suitable training courses and were particularly interested in knowing what IL courses were available.  The presentation illustrated the point which we have found to be true elsewhere – IL  is widely understood as long as it is presented  in the context of the knowledge, skills, experience and learning needs of the group you are targeting which means that the message needs to tailored to whoever you happen to be speaking to at the time. 

Om Wednesday 26th  we had a meeting of the Project Advisory Group where inevitably much of the discussion revolved around the long term future of the Project and how it can be funded. We are currently funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation until the end of September 2009 so now is the time to think about new funding. Thursday 27th saw us in Edinburgh talking to the Learning Policy and Strategy Directorate of the Scottish Funding Council to raise awareness of the importance of IL in the skills agenda and especially as an employability and lifelong learning skill.

Back in Edinburgh again on Friday 28th, to attend the SLIC FE conference, at the invitation of Catherine Kearney, Assistant Director of SLIC to whom, Many Thanks. We participated in a JISC sponsored discussion on Libraries of the future after which Christine and I were interviewed by Philip Pothen, the JISC Press and PR manager. The interview is to appear as a podcast and I will post the URL when it becomes available.  I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and I have been trying to raise awareness of IL as a necessary workplace skill with the help of their Outreach officer as education and skills is an RSA priority.  There is a piece in the current RSA Scotland newsletter which is on their website although there seems to be a problem with the link just now.

While in Brighton on Monday 1st December I had a meeting with Martin de Saulles, a member of the Social Informatics Research Unit who is interested in IL in small to medium sized enterprises and we identified areas of common interest.

There are a couple more meetings to go before we collapse exhausted over the Christmas turkey but the message is already becoming clear.  Increasingly the people we speak to are asking us about content of IL training programmes and how they might be delivered.  Although IL training obviously has generic components training packages will need to focus on particular requirements.  A new research question it seems.