West Lothian Council, situated in the central belt of Scotland, administers what is predicted to be that country’s fastest growing area over the next 20 years. With its booming economy, West Lothian ranks as the 12th most enterprising area in Britain.
In 2006, the Council won the top category of UK Council of the Year at the Local Government Chronicle Awards. The competition, which received a record number of entries from local authorities, highlights and celebrates the work of the country’s leading and most innovative councils.
The Council is striving to be even more customer-focused and customer-friendly and is in the process of applying to be the first to achieve all-council Chartermark, the national standard for excellence in public services.
Most recently, the Council has been using a tool from York-based MyKnowledgeMap (MKM) to analyse soft skills. The tool helps to highlight skills gaps within the organisation as a whole, for specific departments and individuals.
The bespoke, easy-to-use system developed and provided by MKM contributed towards seeing the Council awarded the Institute of Customer Service ‘Centre of Excellence’.
Claire Frame, human resource advisor in the Council’s Organisational Development Service, has been overseeing the skills gap assessment at West Lothian Council.
She says: "Organisations such as ours face a growing challenge in evaluating the skills and competencies needed to perform to maximum capability. This tool is invaluable in identifying skills gaps to allow us to manage relevant training and development to order to address these gaps."
The system is, in effect, an online profiling tool for identifying specific competencies and knowledge areas (with both hard and soft skills) important for each job role, and directing each individual to appropriate development opportunities.
A portfolio section encourages employees to provide evidence of how they have improved a knowledge or skill area so that team leaders as well as individuals can track progress. Says Claire: "We have now introduced the system to operational departments as a means of assessing the skills, knowledge and behaviours for staff in relation to customer service and communication.
"‘Soft skills’ development is not always the main focus for managers, especially where their services are not external customer facing. However the tool sets out the expectations we have for staff and even allows for different targets depending on the role the individual has."
Claire sums up the skills diagnostic software used by West Lothian as ‘a very powerful and important organisational development tool delivering assessments that help take services and individuals forward’.
Implemented by professional, educational and governmental organisations on over 20 different projects in recent years, its success has prompted MKM to introduce an off-the-shelf variant of the skills gaps system: called Capability Matrix. It is launched by MKM at London’s HR Software Show in June (2007).
About Capability Matrix
Capability Matrix is a customisable online capability and skills management system. Its flexibility allows users to create, manage and deliver custom skills gap assessments for their organisations. Core benefits include the means of:
• creating capability and training needs assessments based on nationally recognised competency maps (National Occupational Standards);
• creating customisable assessments and targets;
• establishing capability targets set by job-role or team;
• enabling delivery of assessments and producing individual capability reports;
• producing in-depth organisational reports identifying what capabilities are available and where they are concentrated;
• identifying where training should be targeted;
• scoping in on team or job functions for detailed views of capabilities and training needs.
Founded in 2000, MyKnowledgeMap (often known as MKM) is a dynamic company delivering web-based knowledge systems designed by individuals, for the individual. Operating in the corporate, public and education sectors, MKM's range of products and services includes:
• Academies: MKM is the UK's leading supplier of infrastructure systems for national skill academies, including those in the UK for food & drink manufacturing, sport & active leisure, care, and retail. MKM's e-academy infrastructure helps learners and people with a stake in a particular skill to progress from entry to degree level. Working with the UK's national Sector Skills Councils (MKM's clients include Skillsmart Retail, Improve and SkillsActive. MKM has pioneered online academies that can help people with everything from day-to-day productivity to discovering and achieving relevant qualifications. MKM also offers e-academies tailored to the needs of organisations in the private and local government sectors.
• Skills diagnostics: MKM's Skills Diagnostic suite allows clients to build their own system of skills diagnosis and training regimens. Its sophisticated software tools are designed to meet clients' specific needs, and to facilitate, not impose, the required solutions.
• Learning: MKM's e-learning solutions, including e-learning content, delivery systems and teaching aids, are used by a worldwide and growing range of organisations from Lloyds TSB to the RSPB; from manufacturing to retailing; from the police to local authorities; from the University of York to colleges in Delhi, Bahrain and Nairobi. MKM produces inventive and versatile applications that are can be shaped and contextualised by their users to meet the rapidly-changing needs of contemporary work and training, either for use within an e-Academy environment or as stand-alone products.
Further Information from:
Rob Arntsen / Tom Holland, MyKnowledgeMap +44 (0) 1904 659465
Peter Muir, Bob Little Press & PR (0) 1296 715228