Skill Building in UK – Future Proof, Skills for Work Program

The way we work is changing rapidly. The ongoing digitisation of jobs and workplaces means that today’s workers need to be more adaptable, and more resilient, than ever before. But 42% of the workforce – 13.6 million people
– don’t have even the minimum standard of digital skills required for work. These people are more likely to have lower overall educational attainment, a lower household income, and to work in less skilled roles. They often need more than just digital skills. They may not have access to information about personal development and career choices that more skilled workers take for granted. Poor experience of formal education and a lack of opportunities may also leave them without the behaviours they need to help them deal with change.

In a world reshaped by the [Coronavirus Disease 2019] COVID-19 pandemic and facing a prolonged economic shock, digital skills are crucially important. In 2019, 82 per cent of UK jobs required some level of digital skills, and the figure today will be higher. Yet 13.6 million UK workers lack the core digital skills essential for today’s jobs, and 9 million UK adults cannot use the internet independently. Most people will need digital skills to gain or remain in employment as all sectors embrace and accelerate digital business models and ways of working. However, those in lower-skilled jobs at risk of automation are often likely to face barriers that make it harder to acquire them: lower confidence, less time, and lower-level learning skills. They are also less likely to receive support from their employer.

The Future Proof: Skills for Work programme sought to develop solutions to these challenges by combining three key principles: developing digital skills, building behavioural competencies, and giving workers the information they need in order to make better learning and career choices. Starting in September 2019, the programme was funded by Accenture, and delivered by Good Things Foundation through thirteen community partners in the Online Centres Network of diverse community organisations supporting people to access computers and develop their digital skills. Future Proof was delivered using an experimental, test and learn approach, giving community partners flexibility to adapt their delivery to the needs of their target audience. As well as offering person-to-person support, community partners were free to choose from a range of online resources, including Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Academy, Accenture’s Digital Skills courses (hosted by FutureLearn), and the Learn My Way and Make it Click platforms provided by Good Things Foundation.

The findings are unequivocal. All round support, responsive to individual circumstances and needs, helps the low skilled to acquire essential digital work skills; and helps them build the digital confidence and resilience they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

In order to effectively engage and meet the needs of all kinds of learners, four delivery
characteristics were identified:
1. Informal learning structure. Support was structured in a way that made it appealing, relevant and flexible to learners who were often struggling with busy lives, personal crisis, and low confidence. Learners could miss support sessions if they needed to, attend for as much time as they wanted, and did not have to wait for the beginning or end of formal teaching terms. Learning had a practical focus, with learners able to apply what they’d learned to situations similar to those they might encounter in the workplace.
2. Development of interpersonal relationships. Support staff and volunteers built strong interpersonal relationships with learners, treating them with respect and providing regular positive feedback. The widespread use of volunteers not only increased overall capacity, but also made it possible for community partners to offer one-to-one support to learners who needed it.
3. Provision of a welcoming online and offline learning environment. Whether face-to-face or online, community partners provided an environment for learning which did not feel like a formal education setting. Learners with poor previous experiences of education felt that the support they were receiving was more accessible and relevant to their needs.
4. Embedded use of a range of online learning resources. High-quality, relevant and accessible digital resources enabled learners to continue learning at home, in the workplace, and throughout the lockdowns and social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  Shocks, knocks and skill building blocks: how Future Proof: Skills for Work created resilient workers and organisations


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