Boosting business intelligence

Financial challenges and increasing competition means businesses are having to work smarter than ever to remain successful.

With this in mind, there is more importance being placed on the up-skilling of workers to give companies a competitive edge.

Unique initiative

Now, a unique new initiative run by the University of Wolverhampton is providing client-focused business support for Continuing Professional and Personal Development (CPPD) in the workplace.

i-CD (Intelligent Career Development) has been established to create flexible learning opportunities to help boost the performance and profitability of local and national businesses, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region. These types of businesses have been identified as having a shortage of staff with higher education qualifications, particularly when comparing the UK with other G8 countries. This is something i-CD aims to address through its forward-looking approach.

Bite-sized learning

Its aim is to provide bite-sized learning packages, short units of study which plug skills gaps while also offering credits towards higher qualifications should they wish to do pursue this in the future.

i-CD’s Field-Based Learning Consultants work with employers to assess these needs, creating a Performance Needs Analysis which highlights learning that could benefit the company. Possible areas for improvement have included succession planning, HR, leadership and management and i-CD works with relevant Schools to create a successful programme of delivery.

i-CD has built a close partnership with the University’s Institute for Learning Enhancement (ILE) which focuses on developing academic excellence through innovative initiatives. As part of a Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) project to develop an employer-responsive curriculum, ILE is developing an e-portfolio based pedagogy for work-based learners. The pedagogy includes online materials and learning activities which means i-CD Members don’t need to come into the University to study the Unit.

Pilots

The JISC funding has supported the initial development of the pedagogy through pilot i-CD units. Two pilots, one for the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications based on Employment Law and one for the University of Wolverhampton Business School focusing on Leadership and Management, are being run. These two pilots follow the completion of an initial pilot for the School of Engineering and the Built Environment based on ‘Enhancing Communication Skills with Clients’.

Those taking part will have gained an i-CD Study Award and will take what they’ve learned back to their workplace, to mutual benefit. i-CD Units also have the additional advantage that credits earned can be used towards further academic awards from the University of Wolverhampton.

Learning philosophy

The i-CD learning philosophy matches exactly the requirements in the delivery of foundation degrees, namely that the programme is vocational and adds value to the recipient in terms of vocational development. i-CD are working closely with Foundation Degree Forward (fDf) to develop a number of modules targeted particularly at employed professional people throughout the West Midlands, and in subject areas identified by the West Midlands Regional Observatory, as being required to develop the economic output of the region. This is a very exciting project and will play a part in the regeneration of the region.

i-CD was launched publicly in September 2009 and has been forging ahead under Chief Executive, Kim White, who has a long and successful track record in business, the public sector and education.

Kim says: "The biggest challenges facing businesses now are working out how to emerge from recession whilst at the same time facing new legislation that slows trading conditions. At a time like this there is a need for original and clear thought and the application of sound judgement. However, that is a tough call when the challenges lie outside the scope of your previous experience.

"Before a business can act to emerge from recession it will need informed and balanced thinking from its managers, who then have the confidence and means to carry out their ideas. This is where i-CD can help - by equipping managers to think and act their way out of recession."