Following the initial inception of the Regional Learning Partnership, and much detailed discussion, the partners settled on their major objectives and translated them into a suitable action plan.
This action plan was then broken down into three main areas, which form the three key pillars of the RLP.
The pillars were developed in response to the key principles of the Welsh Government's 'Making the Connections' strategy, the Webb Review and Emerging Employment policy, which identified a need for a more collaborative approach to working in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public services.
Pillar 1 - Partnership Brokerage and Development
"Working with established local learning networks and local regeneration partnerships with an added strategic regional focus to improve areas such as quality, staff development and maximisation of external funding"
In this pillar the RLP considers the potential development of a common governance model for a shared delivery approach to benefit the learner. This may include sharing budgets, resources and facilities on specific projects; facilitating joint working and shared staff development; implementing a quality framework; avoiding overlaps; developing regional branding for learner services; and identifying innovative modes of delivery.
The Partnership Brokerage and Development pillar underpins the whole ethos of the RLP. The principal focus in this pillar is encouraging organisations to realise the benefits of collaboration, from maximising external funding opportunities to responding jointly to tender opportunities, and ultimately to transform the way services are delivered.
Some of the areas previously considered by our various groups have included:
Drafting a regional response to the HEFCW Circular on behalf of partners for a regional strategy on the planning and delivery of higher education.
Gower College Swansea submitting a tender on behalf of the RLP for a regional advocate in relation to the Sector Priorities Fund Pilot Programme.
To further support our partners across the region we are also 'hot-desking' on a regular basis at various locations, thanks to our partners offering office and meeting accommodation. This allows us to engage with partners and colleagues at all levels.
Pillar 2 - Regional Learning & Skills Observatory
"To improve the collection, sharing and analysis of key data and intelligence across sectors over the region through a single interactive information base and website"
The aim of the Regional Learning & Skills Observatory for South West Wales is to improve access to local data and intelligence for learning, skills, and the labour market, through a single website.
The pilot for the Observatory was rolled out during 2010, and focused on the Amman & Gwendraeth Valleys as part of the Western Strategic Valleys Renewal Area. This pilot was very well received, and has now formed the basis for the wider regional roll-out and development of the Observatory.
The Regional Learning & Skills Observatory continues to be promoted, and is being developed to mirror the six key priorities identified within the Welsh Government's Economic Renewal Programme. With the additional priorities of Agriculture and Tourism reflecting the key economic drivers within South West Wales, the Observatory continues to source new localised data and information, alongside existing national data collections and releases.
The transparency of data within the interactive maps and tables is key to the continued use and effectiveness of the Observatory. As a means to primarily identify the trends in data relating to employment, learning and skills within the region, it serves as a powerful tool to assist greater understanding, and to provide opportunities for further collaboration.
Pillar 3 - E-Portal
“Using technology to improve opportunities for learners, to share resources and achieve efficiencies”
The basic premise of the E-Portal is to be a 'virtual' one-stop-shop to a number of key audiences in a bid to improve rates of participation, encourage a return to learning, and to promote available opportunities around learning and skills.
One of the significant challenges for the E-portal within its pilot will be to meet the diverse needs of those who are categorised as economically inactive, and to ensure that there are continual opportunities of clear progression.