The Organisational Capability team in the Mainstreaming Strategy Unit propose the following action for consideration by the Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board for addition to their current Project Plan:
“Undertake a needs analysis for the learning and development needs of policy makers in the public sector to enable best practice in the use of equality data. This will form the evidence base for the design and implementation of learning and development resources to improve capability of staff to use equality data to develop more inclusive policy which will advance equality.”
The proposed project action will run from November 2021 until spring 2022 to allow for the collation of a wide range of evidence into the needs analysis, alignment with wider mainstreaming work and the design of a strategic approach to improving capability across the public sector. The projected timeframe does not preclude implementation of learning and development interventions prior to the completion of the needs analysis, where there is clear evidence for that intervention.
The proposed project action will run alongside existing learning and good practice actions within the EDIP project plan for analysts including the production of best practice guidance, case studies and protected characteristic themed workshops. On completion of the work above and this development work it may be appropriate to broaden the needs analysis work to consider any further development required by analysts.
The 2021/22 Programme for Government commits to develop a strategy to embed equality, inclusion and human rights across the public sector, improving how we centre equality, inclusion and human rights in all government policies, decisions and spending. A key theme in the development of the strategy is the capability and capacity of public sector staff to effectively apply equality, inclusion and human rights in their work, including in the collection and use of equality and human rights data. To enable the development of effective learning and development tools, resources, training and guidance, work will commence shortly to undertake a needs analysis for the sector.
Scottish Government commissioned research into Understanding Equality Data Collection in the Scottish Public Sector noted that “Organisations that had high-quality equality data collections had also invested time in training staff and third-party data handlers to collect the data. This included the development of guidance [and] training materials”.
Preliminary stakeholder engagement in the development of the Mainstreaming strategy echoed these key themes including gaps in knowledge, understanding and confidence in collecting equality data in the Scottish public sector. In addition, stakeholders reported that further actions were required to improve the capability of public sector staff to use equality data to develop and monitor policy.
The needs analysis for learning and development in the Scottish public sector to use of equality data will provide the evidence base for the design and development of learning and development resources and thus support the aims of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2017-21 to support public sector staff to:
- have developed a good evidence base to understand the structural inequality in outcomes within their areas
- have the knowledge and expertise to be able to use this evidence to tailor policy to reduce inequality by protected characteristic and socioeconomic disadvantage
- have the data, knowledge and skills to use their evidence base to monitor and evaluate the impacts of their policies on an ongoing basis
Needs analysis structure and development
An needs analysis will collate evidence on:
- stage one, what is good practice in using equality data to develop and monitor policies
- stage two, what current practice is and where and how that differs from good practice
- stage three, what interventions are necessary and effective to support the application of good practice
The stages of a needs analysis can run concurrently and learning and development interventions can be designed and implemented prior to the completion of the needs analysis where there is clear evidence to do so.
The stages of the needs analysis will be applied to assess capability among policy makers at each of the six phases of equality data use in the policy cycle as defined in the Equality Data Strategy 2017-2021 (Figure one) to enable clearer alignment with the aims of the EDIP. Policy development however, often deviates from this cycle and this will also be reflected in the needs analysis.
For development of capability workstreams it anticipated that there will be three levels of skills requirements that need to be assessed:
- awareness, what level of equality and human rights awareness is needed by all policy professionals across the public sector?
- skilled, what particular roles will require enhanced skills and in what areas?
- specialist, what need, if any, is there for specialist roles focussed on this area?
This assessment will enable the design of resources, guidance, training, CPD and other options to improve staff capability to embed equality and human rights in their work.
With the board’s consent, work will begin immediately on the needs analysis including:
- literature review of recommendations submitted to and accepted by the Scottish Government on equality data use by policy makers
- a literature review of best practice in equality data use
- collation of internal evidence, surveys and audits of current practice
- mapping of current support to the Scottish public sector
- internal stakeholder and user views on the three stages of the needs analysis including the EDIP programme board, staff surveys or interviews
- stakeholder views and consultation on the three stages of the needs analysis
Dr Judith Telford
Organisational Capability Manager
Mainstreaming Strategy Unit
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