MSc Information Management at UWE Bristol

CILIP’s Employer Engagement Event : Leading future workforce development.   

Posted by Judith Stewart | 0 Comments 

This event took place at City, University of London on Wednesday 2ndNovember, and was a gathering of employers from different library and information sectors, and representatives of iSchools and LIS Programmes.  The purpose of the day was first to clarify the skills and knowledge that current and future Information Professionals need to fulfil the requirements of employers in our complex information environment.  And second to hear what areas of knowledge and skills are felt to be lacking in the current workforce and how best these gaps can be filled.

Mandy Powell, representing CILIP (because Simon Berney Edwards was unable to attend), outlined the findings of a recent (2014/5) study to map the Library, Archives, records, Information Management, and Knowledge Management professions.

One of the key findings was that women are under- represented to a level of 50% in senior management, despite forming 78.1% of the workforce.  We are also an ageing workforce, with 55.3% being over 45; 12% higher than the equivalent figure for the UK as a whole. Further details and statistics are available in the executive summary of the report which can be found here:

Drawing on a Government commissioned report The Future of Jobs and Skills in 2030 (2014) Mandy reminded us that we need to think long term, and consider

·         What services will look like
·         How they will  be governed
·         How they will be delivered

We need to consider increasing diversity in information work, and the blurring of definitions and divisions between professions and skill sets.

It has emerged that there is a gap in careers advice for young people who want to, or who have the attitudes and aptitudes suiting them for information work – especially in relation to vocational routes other than through higher education. The dominance of advice to enter higher education and pressures to ‘get a degree’ have obviously contributed to this.

CILIP’s call to action based on this included the following:

·         To develop a shared sense of vision and direction
·         To resolve the disconnect between employers and learning providers
·         To understand the changing face and shape of the workforce
·         To take a holistic view of knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies required for the future
·         To design strategies and pathways that meet these needs.

A panel of employers from different sectors including public, academic, Government, commercial and health shared their perspectives on future skills and abilities.

There were many commonalities in the skills and attitudes felt to be required by future information professionals in different environments. These included flexibility, and an ability to be a generalist, to take on different roles depending on need within the organisation.

In terms of skills there was a significant emphasis on commercial and business awareness; the ability to work across departments, to negotiate and to understand the language and perspective of customers, service users, suppliers and host organisations. Also to understand the role of information and knowledge management and its value to the organisation.

High levels of Information Literacy and criticality were almost a given, but were emphasised by Nick Poole, CILIP’s Chief Executive. Data literacy and data management skills also featured, along with the ability to analyse and use data to contribute to the goals of the organisation.

For Health Education England, David Stewart described librarians as being ‘business critical’, while Stephen Phillips, an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley and head of Business Information Services, Analytics, Publishing and Translations, said it is important that information professionals understand the drivers of their organisation, and where their service fits in its goals and capabilities. To see themselves as equals, not as service provider or client.

From the academic perspective, Liz Kerr representing SCONUL emphasised the need for collaborative skills, leadership – within the organisation as a whole, and the increasing need to personalise information to academic need. Librarians also have the role of preparing students and academics to ‘navigate digital information overload’.

Other key ideas that emerged from speakers included the need to be able to communicate with and relate to IT professionals, to be forward thinking and have the ability to interpret and adapt to developments.  Qualities such as ambition, confidence, and business and commercial awareness also featured significantly.

Participants in the meeting were then asked to consider what skills we felt were missing in the workforce and when they could best be addressed – whether in initial qualification programmes, through vocationally based courses, in CPD, or as part of the registration process.

Some groups were concerned about the focus on skills in this exercise rather than the nurturing of attitudes and qualities, but the debate and discussion produced some fascinating models (represented by drawings) of the Librarian of 2030. Common themes included adaptable professionals able to take on a variety of roles, being politically and societally aware, and having commercial awareness as well as analytical and technical skills. Confidence, strong interpersonal and negotiating skills, and customer focus also featured strongly.

Considering these elements the points in CILIP’s call to action are worth restating:

·         To develop a shared sense of vision and direction
·         To resolve the disconnect between employers and learning providers
·         To understand the changing face and shape of the workforce
·         To take a holistic view of knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies required for the future
·         To design strategies and pathways that meet these needs.

In my view, dealing with second bullet point – increasing two way connection between employers and learning providers is key. Learning providers need to understand the longer term direction of employer organisations and the competencies and aptitudes required to support these. Employers can equally beneficially be involved with vocational and professional training, both directly, and given recent announcements and funding by HEFCE through professional apprenticeships.

Judith Stewart

November 2016

tags: Conferences, Professional Knowledge, skills
Technorati Tags: , ,

bookmark this: Add to Digg it Technorati Facebook Reddit

0 Comments for "CILIP’s Employer Engagement Event : Leading future workforce development."

Post your own comment

(will not be published)



All comments will be reviewed before being published
IP addresses and UWE usernames are automatically recorded
Use of this resource is covered by the Acceptable Use Policy

Related articles (automatically generated - external links)

trackback URL