Focus: People Management - Training - Developing the development workers

Graham Willgoss,

A new scheme will help those who support and advise voluntary groups.

NACVS is putting together a new education programme for development workers based in local Councils for Voluntary Service.

The Skills and Knowledge for Local Development project is designed for people giving hands-on support to local voluntary groups, including those offering general development support or specialist help such as funding advice.

Funded by the Home Office's ChangeUp programme, it will cover a range of relevant topics through training days, mentoring and peer support.

"Not much attention has been paid to the needs of development workers, largely because of the difficulty of finding funds to provide them with training and support," says Lynne Bryan, learning development manager at NACVS.

"There are many training opportunities, but it is more difficult for development workers in infrastructure organisations to learn the skills and knowledge they need to pass on because there's nothing specific available to them. ChangeUp has addressed this."

The project, known as SKiLD, will work closely with each of the ChangeUp hubs to ensure that all of the opportunities targeted at development workers dovetail to create a comprehensive and easily accessible package that avoids duplication.

"We need to look at how development workers can progress their own careers," says Bryan. "We'll work with them to develop a framework of competencies so they know the levels to which they should develop their skills, and what range of topics they need to support local organisations."

NACVS will work with the Federation for Community Development Learning and the NCVO's Sustainable Funding Project to devise a framework for the programme.

It is also in the process of recruiting focus groups of development workers and encouraging interested organisations to complete a questionnaire about what they need and expect from the project.

Lizzie Saunders, volunteer centre manager at Ealing CVS, says: "Development workers always need to be updated. The agenda and environment in which they work changes all the time. Young workers need bringing on, and this is a faster route for them - better than picking up bits from their colleagues and peers as they go."

The scheme begins in March and will run for a year. "Current funding allows us to run only until March 2007," says Bryan. "We are hoping it will live longer and we're already looking for ways to find the funding that will allow this."

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