Introducing the Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens initiative… and an invitation to get involved

The Reference Group for this initiative have asked me to write this blog as a way to capture a story of our work together. The idea is that different voices can add/amend/comment. And we can embed some of the media we are co-producing as a way to share this widely.

For example, this video was taken in late August 2013 with members of East Ayrshire Council’s ‘Vibrant Communities’ team. It shows the kinds of conversations happening at our events (there have been three meetings to date – Edinburgh in February 2013, East Ayrshire in May, and Glasgow (with Threshold and Police Scotland sharing their stories) in June.

It also shows a sense of excitement and real engagement by both managers and front line staff in re-imagining what a workplace is about – and therefore what workforce development should be about too. The conversation is quite raw and honest and we aspire to create more resources like this, to help ourselves and others unlearn and disrupt old habits and ways of doing things to people, and instead learn how to share power towards unlocking the potential and hidden strengths in communities and people. We welcome people into this work as both ‘citizens’ and ‘workers’.

The conversation also shows we are at a very early stage in understanding how to track and share this learning and know what impact it has.

A little about where this initiative came from: In 2011 the Christie Commission talked about an age of declining resources and escalating need and how current services would be completely unsustainable if they carried along the same track.

Christie proposed switching resources into prevention to both save money and create the conditions where more resilient communities could emerge. It signposted that services should become more integrated, and embed assets approaches in the way they work. The question was: how to achieve this?

During 2012, the Scottish Leaders’ Forum (which comprises Chief Executives from Scotland’s public agencies) considered how to take the Christie recommendations forward. One outcome was a commitment to explore the implications of assets approaches for workforce development. In other words, for public service organisations to learn together how to enable all their staff – from frontline workers to people in traditionally ‘back office’ roles – to learn alongside (and as) citizens how to better embody the values and skills of assets ways of working. 

We realise that this is not easy for institutions with decades’ long histories of creating systems and structures designed to service bureaucracies and ‘one size fits all’ policies and targets. And the current economic climate and budget cuts underline the complexity of attempting to create something positive as old structures and ways of working are crumbling.

In this context, our focus is on showcasing practical stories of change, and sharing what’s being learned. People and organisations who opt into the initiative develop resources together and act as a supportive community of critical friends.

We are now inviting many more organisations to participate as ‘pioneer sites’. If you are engaged with a service or organisation which delivers or is commissioned to deliver public services in Scotland, you can get involved. We are aiming to reach a large diversity of organisations and offer support to

• Evidence the impact of the new approaches;
• Share stories of what’s worked and what hasn’t, face-face and through multi-media;
• Co-produce resources to support further development of these approaches within your own
organisation as well as more widely;
• Have a say in the strategic development of the initiative via the governance group; and
• Influence wider public service reforms in Scotland and beyond.”

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more about getting involved.



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