Pioneering project in professional development for BCE

JISC Netskills is co-ordinating an exciting joint project leading to the launch of a new national framework for professional development.

Focusing specifically on the needs of staff in education and research involved in external engagement activities, the project is part of JISC’s Business and Community Engagement (BCE) programme.

Titled Supporting & Embedding CPD for Business & Community Engagement, the sector-wide project is set to review the continuing professional development framework developed over the past 10 years by the Association for University Research and Industry Links (AURIL).

Meeting the users’ needs

The project, led by Netskills Consultant Trainer Helen Blanchett and AURIL’s Secretary Linda Baines, is now through the initial planning stage and the team is “ready to get their hands dirty”. Helen is excited to get started with the information gathering stage. “One thing we really want from this project is to meet the needs of the users”, she said.

“During the spring we’re set to run surveys, organise events and interview people from a range of different roles to make sure all the relevant activities, skills, attributes and barriers to effectiveness are captured, and to find out how their skills development is supported by their organisations.”

“We’ll also be talking with senior management staff, finance officers and people in HR and staff development to see how their roles are changing in order to better support the staff working in BCE.”

To enhance support for BCE practitioners, the project is set to develop a new online tool for self evaluation. Building on the pilot tool developed by Netskills last year, the aim is to offer an easy way to identify needs in skills development and point users towards relevant resources.

Collaboration is the key

One of the strengths of the project is the way it brings together key stakeholders in the sector. This is also a key factor in its success. Linda said that AURIL is delighted to be involved in a project which sees numerous organisations voluntarily giving their time to define the needs of knowledge exchange professionals.

“It’s a golden opportunity to gain agreement for the future needs of the profession, especially in the current economic climate when it’s critical to raise awareness of the benefits and impact of their work”, she said.

Through a Working Group, chaired by AURIL, the project involves experienced CPD specialists and some of the leading professional organisations including JISC, the Licensing Executives Society (LES), and other Knowledge Transfer organisations.

A wider Advisory Group is also being consulted as part of the project. This includes representatives from Institute of Knowledge Transfer (IKT), Higher Education Academy, National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) and Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS).

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