Funding of the arts and heritage - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) (arts 161)

  1.  Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) welcomes the opportunity to respond to this inquiry into The Funding of the Arts and Heritage. We are responding as the Sector Skills Council for the Lifelong Learning sector, which includes libraries, archives and information services across the UK.

  2.  Our submission focuses on the workforce development and skills issues that pertain to the libraries, archives and information services sector in respect of the issues raised by the Committee.

  3.  The main issues we wish to raise with the Committee are:

    — Excellent library, archive, information and record management services are dependent on having excellent people working in them. Services can only be developed if they can be supported and delivered by an appropriately skilled workforce. Service development should therefore happen in tandem with staff development.

    — The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has supported workforce development across the library, archive and information services and it is critical that this investment is not lost at a time when the impact will be felt the most. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must ensure that its ongoing support for museums, libraries and archives will continue to include a focus on workforce development.

    — LLUK welcomes the DCMS Future Libraries Programme but we stress that service development must include staff development. New governance models will require new skill sets and a greater understanding of the core skill sets required to deliver public library services. LLUK's Sector Skills Assessment and the National Occupational Standards for the sector will underpin this work.

    — In the current economic climate of planned public spending cuts, libraries, archives and information services will have a greater role in supporting individuals to return to work through information, advice and guidance and through offering lifelong learning opportunities and improving skills.

    — In addition, the library, archive and information services workforce has a key role in supporting the "Big Society". Libraries and archives are a recognised and valuable community space and the people who work within them are a vital resource in delivering on this agenda.

ROLE OF LLUK

  4.  Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) is the independent employer led Sector Skills Council for libraries, archives and information services; careers guidance; community learning and development; further education; higher education and work based learning. We represent the interests of the 1 million+ individuals working in lifelong learning in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and are the voice of employers in this sector on skills issues.

  5.  LLUK's vision is for: A world class lifelong learning workforce that enables a more prosperous economy and an inclusive society.

  6.  LLUKs mission is: We work with employers, partners and policy makers to improve the skills, performance and professional development of the UK's lifelong learning workforce.

  7.  LLUK's strategic Goals and Objectives are:

    1. We will increase demand for and investment in skills through dynamic employer engagement.

    2. We will drive forward the strategic ambitions of our sector by amplifying the voice of employers in UK.

    3. We will provide credible and respected Labour Market Intelligence to employers, partners and policy makers workforce development activities.

    4. We will develop and promote relevant and fit for purpose learning and skills solutions to meet lifelong learning employers needs.

THE ABOLITION OF MLA

  8.  MLA has had an ambitious and challenging agenda for the libraries, archives and information services workforce. Its priorities are leadership development, widening entry routes, increasing the demographic diversity of the workforce and e-skills development. These priorities are confirmed by our employers through our annual Sector Skills Assessment which allows LLUK to understand current and future national skills needs and the drivers of skills demand in the lifelong learning sector.

  9.  LLUK and MLA have a shared commitment to the development of the workforce. This commitment has given rise to an ongoing partnership to increase recruitment in the sector and widen entry routes. This collaboration between LLUK and MLA has produced a number of targeted outputs designed to tackle some of the issues faced by young people and employers today. These outputs include a toolkit for employers who are thinking of providing work experience for year 10 and 11 students, research on barriers preventing young people taking up apprenticeships, a career guidance website for the sector (infoprofessional.co.uk), and an on-line user guide for the National Occupational Standards for Libraries, Archives and Information Services.

  10.  Our work with MLA for the current year focuses on the development of a new Apprenticeship Framework for the libraries, archives and information services sector which will be fit for purpose and meet the skills development needs of employers and the current and future workforce. Apprenticeships offer alternative entry routes into the workforce and can support skills development and the diversification of the workforce. The National Apprenticeship Service states that:

    — 80% of those employers who employ apprentices agree they make their workplace more productive.

    — 88% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

    — 83% of employers who employ apprentices rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future.

    — One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.

  11.  We are also a partner in the implementation group for Archives for the 21st Century in England which MLA and The National Archives lead. Archives for the 21st Century was produced in parallel versions for Wales and England, and laid respectively before the National Assembly for Wales and UK Parliament on 24 November 2009. Designed to support archive services—particularly publicly funded services—this government policy outlines the challenges currently facing the archives sector and highlights the important contributions that archives can make to local communities. All of the recommendations outlined in the policy have an underpinning reliance on skills development and the workforce.

  12.  MLA has supported workforce development across the library, archive and information services and it is critical that this investment is not lost at a time when the impact will be felt the most. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must ensure that its ongoing support for museums, libraries and archives will continue to include a focus on workforce development.

  13.  LLUK already has an established panel of senior practitioners, employers and stakeholders which inform our priorities and validate our work. As a Sector Skills Council LLUK would be well placed to support DCMS with the development of a workforce strategy for the libraries, archives and information services sector, to enable the sector's workforce to respond to future change.

  14.  It is imperative that policy decisions and subsequent changes to any workforce strategy for the libraries, archives and information services sector be underpinned by high quality labour market information (evidenced based policy). This is especially critical in the current economic climate where staff numbers may reduce and where pressure exists to introduce new roles alongside professionally qualified staff in public libraries eg Para-professional posts and expansion of community-run services. Accurate and authoritative labour market intelligence will enable policy makers, employers and practitioners to make informed decisions about priorities and impacts on service delivery.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE

The following points illustrate some of the priority issues that would need to be considered within the development of a Workforce Strategy for the Libraries, Archives and Information Services sector:

  15.  In his first public speech on libraries on 1 July, the Culture Minister stated that the Government is committed to a high quality library service but wants a radical rethink in how it is delivered. Mr Vaizey said many options should be considered, including:

    — shared services;

    — merging functions;

    — staffing across authorities;

    — support from volunteers; and

    — the use of other community buildings

  16.  He also highlighted the position of libraries in Building the Big Society and their role in the current economic climate to help people back to work, to access learning and as a central plank of community cohesion and announced—in collaboration with the Society of Chief Librarians—a public library promise that the library network will help half a million people gain digital skills by the end of 2012 as part of Race Online 2012.

  17.  A motivated and skilled workforce will be key to ensuring that this challenging agenda can be delivered. Excellent library, archive, information and record management services are dependent on having excellent people working in them. Services can only be developed if they can be supported and delivered by an appropriately skilled workforce. Service development should therefore happen in tandem with staff development.

  18.  The first stage of the Future Libraries support programme for the public library sector will be led by MLA and the Local Government Association Group and will focus on 10 councils. They will work together to support councils as they adapt to the current economic challenge, helping them deliver key services while reducing costs.

  19.  LLUK welcomes the DCMS Future Libraries Programme but we stress that service development includes staff development. New governance models will require new skill sets and a greater understanding of the core skill sets required to deliver public library services. LLUK's Sector Skills Assessment and the National Occupational Standards for the sector will underpin this work.

  20.  Research shows that advice and guidance provided in libraries and social centres that people do visit and feel comfortable to visit is very successful. We refer the Committee to the MLA research paper on "Local access to careers information advice and guidance for employability" (http://tinyurl.com/localcareers).

  21.  The sector skills council conducts research to identify existing skills gaps and shortages and solutions as well as, most importantly, emerging skills issues. Specifically but not exclusively, the potential contribution of Lifelong Learning UK's Sector Skills Assessment (SSA) with and on behalf of the sector needs to be recognised more widely. We would welcome support in encouraging employers and stakeholders from the libraries, archives, information and record management services workforce to work with us to ensure this key part of our remit is built on year on year. Analysis of the findings can be used by planners and policy makers alike to inform and shape workforce planning for the libraries, archives, information and record management services sector workforce.

  22.  LLUK has created and continues to develop structures and standards to enable libraries, archives, information and record management, archives and information services to learn from the broader lifelong learning sector. Furthermore, LLUK draws on good practice across libraries, archives, information and record management and information services both within and beyond the lifelong learning sector. LLUK is also well-placed in terms of disseminating and sharing good practice within the broader lifelong learning sector in particular, and the National Occupational Standards and qualifications projects that are underway will contribute to ensuring that the workforce are able to respond and adapt to the current economic climate.

  23.  People working in libraries, archives, information and record management already have a varied skills mix, which includes a variety of transferable skills beyond what is seen as "traditional" library, archive, information services and record management skills. LLUK believes there needs to be continued investment in this workforce to ensure it remains appropriately skilled in order to be responsive and to facilitate the continued development of those services.

  24.  In the interests of increased efficiency and cost savings, LLUK supports the idea of addressing staff training on a more collaborative basis, encouraging opportunities for cross-authority learning and would welcome consideration of a centralised function for core skills development and CPD across the sector for professional, para-professional and volunteer staff, including management and leadership skills.

IMPACT OF PHILANTHROPY

  25.  The library, archives and information services sector is less experienced in operating in a philanthropic-driven funding climate in comparison to other arts and heritage bodies. As a result, there will be skills needs for the workforce to ensure that the sector does not lose out.

  26.  Discussions that LLUK has already carried out with employers has identified potential workforce skills needs around entrepreneurialism, skills of evaluating risk and return, leadership and change management within organisations which would provide the context that would allow new governance and funding models to develop.

IMPACT OF RECENT CHANGES TO THE DISTRIBUTION OF NATIONAL LOTTERY FUNDS

  27.  LLUK welcomes the proposed return to the original 20% allocation of lottery share for heritage (including the libraries, archives and information services sector) and the increase in annual funding that this would represent. However, our employers are concerned that spending cuts in public funding and the potential reduction in staffing levels will impact upon their capacity to engage in fundraising and the delivery of projects. More flexible match-funding guidelines and the ability to cost existing staff time into projects may go some way to mitigating this.

September 2010





 
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