Over the last few years, local authorities have been under increasing pressure to find creative ways of reducing their spending. Collaboration has quickly become a very effective way to protect public services from cuts. This innovative way of working also helps when sharing good practice and reducing duplication.
Let’s face it, despite each local authority having its own set of unique service delivery needs, the need to deliver them remains constant for them all.
Hear from Me Learning's Customer Account Manager for the North, John Brewder, on the benefits of Local Authority collaboration.
The government is encouraging councils to explore opportunities to work with one another, as well as with the private and voluntary sectors. But achieving effective and productive collaboration isn't easy, there are many obstacles that prevent collaboration happening as smoothly as it might.
Restructuring and change in public sector organisations is now the norm. Constant change like this naturally tends to make people focus internally on self-preservation and service protection becomes much more important. New ideas are often viewed as something to be feared rather than embraced and in such an environment, expecting people to openly participate in collaboration becomes a big ask.
However, in councils where elected leaders and chief executives champion collaboration it has proven to be successful. Since 1985, the ten councils under voluntary membership of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, recently renamed the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, have been collaborating on many different projects.
With the emergence of new learning technologies 10 years ago, one of the most successful collaborations has been of the procurement and provision of quality e-learning to replace expensive and inefficient face to face training solutions for staff and partners.
The formation of a small team of representatives from each local authority in 2007 kicked off a collaborative partnership which quickly bore fruit. GMCA used its collective purchasing power to procure a common learning platform with pre-loaded course libraries. Crucially, this group still meets regularly, 10 years after formation.
As with all cultural changes in large organisations, the uptake of digital forms of learning wasn't always plain sailing and the group worked hard to establish e-learning as the primary development format for staff by continually communicating and promoting the benefits of e-learning across various services. Over time traditional training methods were scaled back and 10 years on, the majority of GMCA’s training is now delivered digitally.
Two years ago Me Learning were awarded the contract to provide GMCA with their latest Learning Management System and suite of e-learning courses covering subjects such as Health and Safety, IT, Leadership and Management, Health and Social Care and more recently GDPR.
Further annual reductions in resources, since that time, have only served to increase the need for quality e-learning to be provided to staff for the purposes of development. The result of this need can be clearly seen in the numbers of courses being completed since Me Learning’s Blue LMS was deployed in 2016.
The GM e-learning collaboration continues to go from strength to strength and the results of that work have translated into huge savings against the cost of traditional delivery methods.
Collaboration often starts with a conversation and Me Learning is committed to making sure we are open for business whenever that conversation is needed. There are a huge number of potential partners between the public, private and voluntary sectors and the challenge now is to fathom out how, when and who to have that conversation with.
If we can make it easier to start a conversation with one another, it will be easier to help each other overcome some of the biggest questions faced by public services today.