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Regeneration and ICT - 2

Reaching the parts other policies and activities fail to reach

Access to Employment

Projects so far have tended to promote access to employment in the following ways:

  • Online information on where/how to find services 

  • Online advice

  • Direct provision of service (e.g. job vacancies online)

  • Increasing employability - training, education, skills development

  • Working online (telework)

Direct or indirect service delivery?

In terms of service provision, projects tend to divide into those that adopt a "portal" approach - that is, providing links to websites which offer information and services, or addresses and telephone numbers - and those which provide services directly online.

Fife Direct is an example of the latter, with an online jobs search, currently getting some 7,000+ hits per month, plus pages of advice from local agencies (Careers Service, Adult Guidance Service, etc). MerseyWorkplace is another example of this kind of approach.

For a well designed portal approach, see thenortheast.com, which provides a very extensive set of links in the North East of the UK.

In planning to set up an online service for access to job opportunities, regeneration partnerships need to think carefully about the approach to take. Providing an online service such as posting job vacancies online is in many ways preferable, but it is more demanding on back-end processes, and the agencies concerned have to commit themselves to regular (daily) updates to make the information worthwhile. The question has to be asked whether it is achievable within the constraints of the project and local circumstances. 

Online Advice - In most regeneration partnerships you will find agencies whose role is to provide advice to clients who want to find work: careers services, adult guidance networks, New Deal advisers, community development teams and so forth. 

In most cases they can have a wealth of advice and information, built up over years of experience and based on careful research - and only available on paper.

Getting the information and advice that is handed out to clients online provides a more efficient form of information management, enabling more frequent and less costly updates. But more than that, it allows clients and workers more flexible access to the material. It takes the information base out of the library, and into wherever it is needed - provided Internet access is/is made available.

Increasing employability

Essentially increasing employability is about training - and as such is dealt with in the section on learning.

A focus on education/training to increase employment prospects will frequently be linked to other access to employment initiatives. However, in many cases it can become a substitute for job creation activities. it is much easier to deliver training than to deliver the jobs or business growth necessary. The danger is that people acquiring new skills will migrate to where the work is - so while individual prospects may improve, the community is little better off.

ICT is important as a means of delivering the training. But it is also important in itself. Learning how to work with the new ICT is vital for progression in the new world of work.

It is particularly important in areas where traditional industries have declined and retraining is needed to re-enter the workforce. Local agencies frequently wish to create a new positive image and identity for such areas, and leapfrog to the forefront of the knowledge economy.

Teleworking - In regeneration terms, teleworking is about bringing work to where people are, rather than expecting them to leave their communities to find it.

For a variety of reasons explored elsewhere in Flexibility, success has been somewhat patchy. But there are some excellent examples of successful telework promotion, particularly in remote rural areas.

One example is work-global in the Western Isles of Scotland. In the early to mid-1990s, considerable amounts of European money were invested in developing the infrastructure for remote working in the Highlands and Islands, and in promoting it. 

work-global is a teleworking facilitator and manages a skills register which currently includes resumés on over 600 highly qualified people based in the Western Isles of Scotland. Supported by the local and regional economic development bodies, their motto is "live local, work global". Their marketing focuses on encouraging companies to outsource business processes to teleworkers in the islands, and encouraging inward investment through setting up satellite offices and call centres.

Success is by no means guaranteed. In the mid-1990s there was a wave of failed "telecottages" which had been set up with local authority support. But it's clear in retrospect they lacked the strong business focus and skills which are evident in current successful ventures. The "Field of Dreams" approach - "Build it and they will come" - doesn't seem to exist outside the movies.

Continue

Intro | Employment | Business | Learning | Community-building | Conclusions

One of the chief aims of regeneration projects is to improve opportunities for work.

Part 2 of our guide summarises the ways ICT can contribute to this.

 


Online job search pulls together vacancies from several sources - and can be accessed from anywhere

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