Preparing the ‘Future Adviser’ For the Challenges Ahead
By Scott Parkin FIEP, IEP Chairman
[This article first appeared in The Skills, Employment and Health Journal]
This is a very important time for our profession and as such we need to think more innovatively about how we go about what we do. The ’employability sector’ is changing, it will become more integrated and, as such, those working within it will require knowledge, understanding and the ability to broker successful partnership relationships for the benefit of the customer. It will also become more diverse in the range of organisations and sectors responsible for delivering employment support services to customers, this I am sure you will agree adds a level of complexity in line with the change in customers.
These different types of organisations have different objectives, governance and operating principles but they will all share a common need. They will need highly skilled, energetic, creative and knowledgeable people with a strong focus on professional development. These people will need to be empathetic, patient and understanding; less traditionally ‘target-driven’ and more ‘customer-focused’. They will also need to be agile and resourceful and be able to promote a positive mind-set in all interactions.
Whether these people are in private, public or voluntary sectors, national, regional or local organisations and whether they work as part of an employability focused team or are the sole employability professional within a multi-disciplined team is not the issue. They will all need access to up-to-date, relevant information, learning opportunities, peer connections and other general support that enhances their individual performance wherever they are.
They will need to be able to work within an integrated service environment to provide joined up support for customers and be proficient in managing a wide range of relationships.
They will need to engage, establish and build trusted relationships with customers to support them through their journey and have a good understanding of their individual skills, health issues and any complex needs and the knowledge to know where and when to refer for help.
The development of our profession and the wider employability and skills sectors should encompass a shared understanding about the skills, training and qualification frameworks which are accessible by all those responsible for helping people move towards and into work, setting standards and building high quality services, delivering better outcomes. Whatever sector frontline staff are from, they need opportunities to share learning and resources so that they are all equipped with the same high level of expertise.
We are committed to providing our frontline staff with knowledge, learning and the opportunity to share best practice and to understand the synergies in the skills and capabilities across other sectors so that we can ensure that we facilitate both vertical and horizontal career progression pathways across a range of sectors.
The Apprenticeship Levy has created an opportunity for us to consider and reflect on the challenges faced by our frontline employees, the competencies that underpin our work and our desire to develop a solution that supports genuine career development and progression. To this end, the IEP is working with all of the premier employment support delivery organisations to develop an Employability Apprenticeship Trailblazer, ensuring that people with a range of skills and competencies are able to benefit. Taking into consideration all of the core qualities that are needed to create and develop standards that are of real quality and more ‘future proof’ for the needs of our profession. Standards need to be distinct enough to drive professional behaviour but also flexible according to an organisation’s delivery model so it is important that those standards are able to be translatable across companies and one of the key outcomes of our discussions is the need to identify synergies with other ‘Case Management’ roles to enable both progression within our sector and movement across other sectors.
It is crucial that the work we do assists all levels of delivery supporting the overall development of the profession. This includes developing in-house learning and development programmes for continued professional development, commissioning high value learning and knowledge content, delivering opportunities for engagement and networking and promoting both wider recognition and an individual sense of pride for those committed to their careers in employability.
The services we provide as a sector are always necessary and should be highly valued as we assist greatly in creating a fair and thriving economy through genuine social and economic impact and the IEP will continue to promote the benefits of developing our frontline staff so that the ‘Future Adviser’ is properly equipped to provide the high-quality support people deserve. We welcome the opportunity to inform and influence the changes that are needed to support our vision; The IEP is dedicated to supporting the people who support others gain work, progress in work and retain work.