From education to employment

The imperative of a system-wide approach. Building an integrated system for quality service delivery and excellence in employability

Scott Parkin

Building a joined-up system for quality service delivery is key to developing ‘fit for purpose’ programmes. In this article we look at the importance of integrated approaches in delivering excellence in employability.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, delivering exceptional services to jobseekers requires more than fragmented efforts. It necessitates a holistic, joined up, system-wide approach that encompasses a well-trained workforce, continuous quality improvement, cultural transformation, and forward-looking innovation. This integrated approach forms the bedrock of a network of ‘fit for purpose’ programmes and capable delivery organisations and their practitioners (at all levels) – a dynamic framework that amalgamates diverse elements to ensure the delivery of excellent services to all citizens.

Building a network of well-trained and certified practitioners

At the heart of any efficient service are skilled professionals armed with the right knowledge and expertise. Creating quality services involves not just training individuals but forging a network of practitioners who are not only competent in their respective domains but also hold the certifications that validate their skills, this is important for the commissioners of services and jobseekers alike to add validation and assurance that they will receive the level of service they expect. A system-wide approach ensures that professional development and training is standardised, up-to-date, and aligned with the needs of the services being offered, in short provides proof of occupational competence.

Quality improvement and continuous improvement

Static systems quickly become obsolete. Continuous quality improvement is the engine that keeps services relevant and effective. By implementing mechanisms for constant feedback, data analysis, and iterative enhancement, a service can swiftly adapt to changing circumstances, emerging technologies, and evolving needs. This approach guarantees that the services provided are consistently excellent and in tune with citizens’ expectations. But that is not the whole story, without a ‘will to improve culture’ services will stagnate, and innovation will be stifled. To be clear the very best practitioners operating in a culture where ‘this is adequate’ will really struggle to provide very best services. Both commissioners and providers need to take responsibility for this, where a compliance first culture may stop many practitioners from taking risks and innovating in their professional practice.

Transforming Cultures

Organizational culture is a powerful driver of behaviour. A shift towards a culture that prioritizes excellence, collaboration, and innovation is essential for services to succeed. This cultural transformation involves breaking down silos between departments, fostering open communication, and encouraging a mindset that embraces change and experimentation. A unified culture enables practitioners to work cohesively towards a common goal – delivering outstanding services to citizens.

Centre for Employability Excellence

Going beyond immediate service delivery it is also important to consider the broader implications for the employability sector and its impact on both society in general and the economy. By establishing a Centre for Employability Excellence (CfEE), the sector not only trains and develops professionals for current roles but also anticipates future needs. This proactive approach ensures that our workforce remains relevant, adaptable, and equipped to handle emerging challenges, technological disruptions, and policy changes.

Forward-looking policy, design, and innovation

It is clear that a system-wide approach is not just about addressing the present – it’s about preparing for the future. A culture of quality improvement, a centre for excellence, great people, capable organisations, and collaborative commissioning incorporate the foresight to anticipate policy shifts, design trends, and technological advancements. By doing so, it can integrate these insights into the service delivery framework, enabling the provision of solutions that stand the test of time.

In conclusion, the IEP does many things to drive quality in service delivery across the employability sector. It is rightly no longer a ‘training’ organisation or an institute that ‘brings people together’ in various networks. It is both these things, but it is also taking a whole system approach to quality, looking at culture, design, learning, relationships, expectations, compliance, performance, lessons through research, collaboration, partnerships, legacy and of course enabling these facets in a number of countries around the world.

The diagram suggests that there are 5+ elements to successful Employability system design and delivery with the CfEE at its heart, there may be more. It also highlights where the IEP is able to influence and support in aspects of this system for our members and jobseekers alike, aligned with our vision ‘Employability professionals everywhere are the best they can be’.

By Scott Parkin FIEP, Group Chief Executive, Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP)

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