Council Wins Awards by Closing Staff Skills Gaps

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<p><strong>York, England &mdash; June 5</strong><br />West Lothian Council, situated in the central belt of Scotland, administers what is predicted to be that country&#39;s fastest-growing area over the next 20 years. </p><p>With its booming economy, West Lothian ranks as the 12th-most enterprising area in Britain.<br /><br />In 2006, the council won the top category of U.K. Council of the Year at the Local Government Chronicle Awards. </p><p>The competition, which received a record number of entries from local authorities, highlights and celebrates the work of the country&#39;s leading and most innovative councils.<br /><br />The council is striving to be even more customer-focused and customer-friendly and is in the process of applying to be the first to achieve all-council Chartermark, the national standard for excellence in public services.<br /><br />Most recently, the council has been using a tool from York-based MyKnowledgeMap (MKM) to analyze soft skills.</p><p> The tool helps to highlight skills gaps within the organization as a whole, for specific departments and individuals.<br /><br />The easy-to-use system developed and provided by MKM contributed to the council being named an Institute of Customer Service &quot;Centre of Excellence.&quot; <br />&nbsp;</p><p>Claire Frame, human resource advisor in the council&#39;s Organizational Development Service, has been overseeing the skills-gap assessment at West Lothian Council.<br /><br />&quot;Organizations such as ours face a growing challenge in evaluating the skills and competencies needed to perform to maximum capability,&quot; Frame said. &quot;This tool is invaluable in identifying skills gaps to allow us to manage relevant training and development to order to address these gaps.&quot;<br /><br />The system is, in effect, an online profiling tool for identifying specific competencies and knowledge areas (with both hard and soft skills) important for each job role. It also directs each individual to appropriate development opportunities.<br /><br />A portfolio section encourages employees to provide evidence of how they have improved a knowledge or skill area so that team leaders, as well as individuals can track progress. </p><p>&quot;We have now introduced the system to operational departments as a means of assessing the skills, knowledge and behaviors for staff in relation to customer service and communication,&quot; Frame said. &quot;Soft skills&#39; development is not always the main focus for managers, especially where their services are not external-customer-facing. </p><p>&quot;However, the tool sets out the expectations we have for staff and even allows for different targets, depending on the role the individual has.&quot;</p>

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