Background:Like all local Authorities WCC is faced with many challenges over the next 5 years, particularly in terms of the availability of funding its current and future services. We also need to ensure we have a skilled and efficient workforce to deliver these services. Our response to this has been the introduction in 2009 of our Human Resources Strategy “Our People” closely followed by our BOLD programme.
Significant reductions are likely in public spending, as the government responds to the global financial crisis and recession. We anticipate that over the next three years (2011-14) we will have only 85% of the current budget i.e. a reduction of about £45m in total.Service Reform is at the heart of the BOLD programme, looking for alternative ways to meet customers' needs at lower cost. We will look for joined up One Council solutions, that simplify, standardise and share ways of working across the Council working together to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, with partners where appropriate.We will not seek to continue to deliver services ourselves, if this can be done better, at lower cost, by others. We will explore options with partners, including enhanced-two tier with District Councils, and joint arrangements with the NHS and others.The BOLD Programme will be made up of about 30 projects over a three year period. The majority of these will be areas of front-line service delivery, focusing on the areas of greatest spend. There will also be a number of cross-Directorate projects, some focusing on service delivered across several Directorates, such as transport, and some focusing on support/back office functions. E-learning and blended learning solutions will have an important role to play towards ensuring we have a skilled and efficient work force.
Another strand of work being undertaken, involves all seven Councils in Worcestershire working closely together to look at more ways of sharing services, and improving efficiency.The Worcestershire Enhanced Two Tier Programme (WETT), plays to our collective strengths as a family of councils without compromising local focus and choice. By combining our expertise, we can create services that:Put the customer at the core of our service design and delivery Are as efficient as they are effective.The first programme under WETT to be realised involved the amalgamation of Trading Standards, regulatory services and licensing departments across the County and Districts. One service is now delivered by 120 staff instead of 165 at a single premises at a saving of £1.3 million. This has been achieved by reducing the management and admin but protecting specialists. Based in Bromsgrove/Redditch area which have also joined together to produce a combined management team under one chief exec, but still retaining their own political identities.
Against this backdrop we have been working with Learning Pool since 2008 to start to develop e-learning across the County Council, supported by twoclear business benefits of e-learning that were highlighted:That the increased use of flexible working means that staff will require some training to be available away from normal workplaces. This will be particularly relevant in relation to Health and safety Issues.That the availability of short and direct e-enabled learning will allow face-to-face learning to concentrate on issues where it is most effective. Ultimately this will lead to more effective learning as well as efficiencies which can expand the scope of learning and development.We identified a need to look at our organisational training needs in line with our new Corporate Plan, Our People Strategy and BOLD and undertook in February three TNA sessions across the whole authority with senior managers and the results of these sessions will be used to shape the new Learning and Development portfolio, with a mixture of face to face, blended and e-learning solutions.We have now developed the Worcestershire E-learning Zone that incorporates a range of repurposed courses from the Learning Pool core catalogue, content purchased from both Learning Pool and third party providers, and a range of new content created internally. The current content will be added to as we finish analysing the TNA results.
In order that we can develop the identified learning solutions we will need to collaborate with both internal and external partners if we are to be successful.Internally we need to work with our subject specialists across the organisation to develop new content or repurpose existing content to reflect our specific training needs. The specialists create the content and the trained authors in the learning and development teams put it into Learning Pools authoring tool. The next stage of our programme will be enabling each Directorate to have their own authors and we will take a more supportive and guidance role.The first project we worked on was commissioned by our HR department, covering the requirements of the 1998 Working Time Regulations to use with home care managers. e-learning module supported by case studies and a quiz which requires 70% pass rate. pilot of 8 staff has taken place. This is now rolling out across our homecare staff.
The latest content to be created was written by our County Ecologist is about biodiversity and covers the council's obligations for wildlife under the NERC act and related legislation for use initially with Property Services, but potentially for all staff whose work may potentially infringe the law. This is at the pilot group stage.
The second area of collaboration is with our external partners. Against the background of the BOLD and WETT programmes, towards the end of last year we embarked on our first shared project with the 6 Districts to look at Equality and Diversity learning provision.Being Different togetherWith funding from The Capacity Building Fund this project will provide a single equalities framework for Worcestershire and also meet the requirements of the Equality Standards for Local Government. Many strands to the project but in relation to training:Develop an equality and diversity training programme which will be an ongoing process through the development of materials and a ‘train the trainer’ programme to improve Councils’ performance on the Equality Standard for Local Government.Develop e-learning induction level equality training that can be shared amongst all partners hosted on a joint website. This is the aspect of the project I was involved with.
We used the LP quick build Equality and Diversity course branded with the project logo and purchased a separate learning platform to host the e-learning as well as provide a space for our District partners to share learning and development good practice. In addition to the equality and diversity e-learning, interest has been shown by the districts to develop this partnership further to include other e-learning, particularly in relation to HR and Health & safety topics. The Districts currently do not have a core subscription, therefore any additional content will have to be purchased separately. It is hoped to reach some agreement with the Districts as part of the BOLD/WETT agenda to look at learning and development as a whole across the County and 6 Districts and build on the collaborative work achieved so far.
Recent reorganisation of the Learning and Development function has brought together Corporate Training, Social care training, and NVQ teams, together with health and safety and occupational health onto one site at the Learning Development and Well-being Centre in Worcester.This has enabled the teams to work more closely together, particularly in terms of developing e-learning solutions for a wide range of subject matter outside of the traditional management and personal skills training that was previously available. The social care team in particular were keen to look at a range of topics that could be incorporated into the portfolio they currently offer not only to WCC staff, but also under its obligation to the VIP’s (Voluntary, Independent and Private) sectors. This has enabled us to draw on the social care training budget to purchase the new Learning Pool Social care training package. We are now looking at how we can promote the new training portfolio and manage access to our DLE bearing mind lessons learnt from our work with the Districts.
Although no one partner is more important than another, regardless of size, you need clear leadership otherwise some decisions will never get made! So make sure that the project has a clearly identified project manager.Spend time getting “buy in” from all stakeholders, not just those staff directly involved in the project, but the decision makers, i.e. their managers. In my case this was the HR managers in each District.Site has its own identity, does not reflect branding of one /all District(s). WHUB already had its own unique branding therefore this was used and also helped create more of a partnership feel for the site.Be clear about your role in the project and your expectations of them (other partners). As lead officer I had a supporting role and was not there to do everything for them!Make sure each partner has just ONE named contact who passes on information, otherwise comms can break down, people get left out etc which hinders collaborative work. Similarly when decisions need to be made make sure all partners are involved but be clear that the project leader has the final say if no decision can be reachedYou need to check on progress regularly. Have a clear project plan that includes a review process. This will allow you to give other partners a gentle nudge if no progress is being made without seeming to be interfering.
More partnership working with the Districts to develop other e-learning packages particularly around HR issuesWorking with the Voluntary, Independent and Private sector to deliver social care e-learningUsing internal subject specialists as content authors
Collaboration for successful e-learning in Worcestershire
Collaborating for Success: E-learning in Worcestershire<br />Carol Woolley: Training Officer<br />Worcestershire County Council<br />
Provide ready access to an exciting, varied and progressive development and training programme, including expanded e-learning provision<br />
Better Outcomes, Lean delivery<br /><ul><li>2011-2014 anticipated 85% of current budget equating to reduction of £45 Million