3. Delivering change
Much of the benefit of the digital shift will be found in upskilling existing staff members, allowing their roles to evolve towards the digital future in an organic way, but it should not be underestimated that in some cases difficult decisions about resource allocation will have to be made. Collaborative work or use cases which highlight the potential for business transformation or efficiencies will be key to support this strand. Promoting the resulting opportunities for upskilling and career progression could help to shift some of the impetus from institution to the individual. A key focus throughout this will be the opportunity to create an inclusive sector that increases the diversity of our workforce.
Creation of a recognised training and development framework
A framework for existing staff that signals pathways into digital roles is crucial. This might come in the form of CPD, core modules in professional provision, or even specialist qualifications and will require regular review to incorporate new digital skills and technologies in an ever-changing environment. Doing this would address the need of the individual to learn and then demonstrate their competence in a particular field, the need for recruiters to have a reliable mechanism for assessing a candidate’s fit with the employer’s needs, and also starts to put in place a practical framework from which the other aspects of the digital shift might be hung.
Drawing on the findings of the skills audit we will convene the wider RLUK community to discuss and develop a digital skills framework which:
- Recognises that libraries require both diverse skills and a more diverse workforce across library services;
- Ensures flexibility and agility are embedded skills within libraries, as recognised by the Digital Shift Manifesto;
- Commits institutions to the cultural and practical paradigm shift necessary to embed digital skills;
- Provides opportunities to demonstrate agility and flexibility in skills in both our current workforce and recruitment practices;
- Balances core competencies in technical and digital skills with traditional skills and leadership;
- Empowers and supports an ongoing dynamic digital skills journey and culture for staff.
Adapting to evolving working cultures
RLUK libraries will have a continually evolving workforce that is able to keep pace with the digital shift. Core library competencies and skills will be retained, developed and complemented by other specialist skills. Remote and hybrid working will allow recruitment from a global market and provide a greater range of skills and specialisms from diverse backgrounds – all key requirements for tackling the challenges of operating in an environment where change is a constant feature. We will need to identify where new competencies can be found, looking to training pathways that may be far from traditional LIS education. Young people are approaching the workforce in a different way, bringing transferable skills and expecting change and flexibility.
The RLUK ADN Workforce group will convene the wider RLUK community to discuss how we:
- Adapt our recruitment practices to attract new skills from different backgrounds;
- Nurture and develop talent in the roles of postgrads, interns, apprenticeships, and early-career professionals;
- Make the most effective and appropriate use of short term contracts and the development of skills;
- Leverage the potential technology enablers for a geographically remote workforce;
- Develop further collaboration with external partners through skills directories, training courses and position descriptions;
- Take a more holistic view of digital skills gaps and opportunities for collaboration across RLUK libraries.
Advocate for change
Work is required to demonstrate these needs and benefits to the tier of senior managers and decision makers who are budget holders in order to build a compelling case for investment in as yet unestablished roles or services. If done successfully, this can then feed into institutional recruitment practice, facilitating greater agility, building skills in change management to help support the workforce transition to new ways of working, and supporting a culture change to one of continuous learning and upskilling. Given current and likely future budget constraints, a difficult balancing act will be required to ensure appropriate investment is made in this area without a consequent underfunding of other activities.
To do this a proactive and coordinated approach from our sector is required:
- Work with other RLUK groups to advocate at senior levels in our institutions;
- Produce data and evidence that can be used by RLUK members when advocating with budget holders and managers.