Skills of the library workforce – future of sector skills

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CC from Open Clip Art, by Nicubunu

Some of you may be aware of things called National Occupational Standards* and sector skills councils. As this topic can get a bit confusing with lots of different names etc I’m going to try to keep it as simple as possible. (Any mistakes are from my own mis-understanding.) It’s important as there’s a deadline you may wish to respond to.

Sector skills councils are employer-led bodies that oversee vocational qualifications and national occupational standards in specific industries. A few years ago libraries (and archives) were under the ‘footprint’ of LLUK (Lifelong Learning UK). LLUK worked with the library and archive sectors to develop new national occupational standards (NOS). These standards can be used by employers as a guide as to what staff should know in order to do specific roles, at specific levels as well as for personal development. A guide to the LAIS NOS can be found on the LLUK legacy website.

For various reasons LLUK was disbanded a year or so ago and the LAIS (library, archive and information services) footprint (that the term used) was available for other sector skills councils to take on. Nobody bid for the LAIS work but LSIS (Learning and Skills Improvement Service) took on some of the work. (Still with me?)

However, following a review (click on the link to the ‘full report’) of the sector skills councils (the Universal Services Review), there has been a change and reduction in funding,  and LSIS is to be disbanded by August 2013. Again, no other sector skills councils have bid to take on the LAIS footprint.

This leaves the LAIS sector with various options, as I see it. There may be other options I haven’t thought of.

1) Do nothing. This would mean that vocational qualifications (ie below professional level, so the ‘old’ NVQ Levels 1-4), national occupational standards and apprenticeship frameworks, would not be reviewed. In a few years time, when jobs and skills sets have changed again, it would be difficult to say what someone at various levels of qualification should know/be able to do.

2) Ask one of the existing sector skills councils to take the LAIS footprint on. But, they would require funding in order to undertake the work, and there’s no ‘natural’ fit for the whole sector. Public libraries might feel more comfortable in the Creative & Cultural Skills one, but it may be of less relevance to academic libraries or record managers.

3) Set up a new sector skills council for LAIS. But how, and with what funding?

4) I understand CILIP and ARA (Archives & Records Association) are working on paper to look after the National Occupational Standards. This would ensure the work would continue, but funding remains an issue. CILIP currently oversee professional and academic qualifications in the library sector.

5) Another qualifications body in Wales could take on the work. For example, the information literacy units are accredited by CQFW. However, the issue of NOS etc are national-UK, not specific for Wales, England, Scotland etc.

The body overseeing all of this (UKCES: UK Commission for Employment and Skills) is seeking the views of the sector on the future for the LAIS footprint. An email message went to LIS-WALES in early March, but if you haven’t replied yet you have until Mon 25th March to do so. You can send your comments to CyMAL, or to LSIS who will present your views to UKCES.

*”National Occupational Standards (NOS) are statements of the standards of performance individuals must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace, together with specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding.” (taken from UKCIS)

About alysontyler

Civil servant, yoga teacher and former librarian.
This entry was posted in Careers, CILIP, Consultations, Libraries, Training, UK, Workforce development and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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