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Review of Provision of Management Development and Leadership training in Wales

Sally O'Connor, Brian Morgan, Gary Walpole Orcid Logo

Swansea University Author: Gary Walpole Orcid Logo


Executive SummaryThe Small Firms Research Unit at Cardiff Business School has compiled this reporton behalf of ELWa. It aims to inform policy makers about the availability ofmanagement and leadership development programmes to Welsh businesses. Thereport is based on the findings of a 5-month study in...

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Published: Welsh Government Website 2004
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Abstract: Executive SummaryThe Small Firms Research Unit at Cardiff Business School has compiled this reporton behalf of ELWa. It aims to inform policy makers about the availability ofmanagement and leadership development programmes to Welsh businesses. Thereport is based on the findings of a 5-month study investigating management andleadership provision in both the public and private sectors across Wales. Theemphasis of the research has been focused on assessing quantitative informationon organisations offering management and leadership training as opposed todeveloping qualitative data.UK Government2 and the Welsh Assembly Government3 have championed thedevelopment of management skills. Whilst governments acknowledge theimportance of good management skills to a winning economy and to the successfuldevelopment of individual firms, they also recognise the weaknesses that exist inmanagement and leadership across the corporate sector.The report shows that a wide range of opportunities exist in Wales to developleadership and management skills. However the report also highlights the sheernumber of available programmes, which can cause confusion for managers trying toidentify the most suitable programme for their specific needs. There is often limitedinformation available on the content of programmes – especially for those that arebeing made available outside the Higher Eduction (HE) and Further Education (FE)sectors. Furthermore there appears to be very little information on the quality,relevance and value to business of current provision in both the public and privatesectors. This latter point is becoming increasingly important because it is alsoapparent from the interviews with stakeholders that SME managers are not fullyengaging with private sector provision nor are they completely persuaded by therelevance of HE and FE offerings.The report found there are issues related to the quality of training and the perceivedbenefits of training to the firm. For development programmes to be successful theyhave to be focused on the interests of individual managers and related to the needsof the company. Overcoming these problems will require a better balance to bestruck between demand and supply. And here lies the conundrum: to boostManagement and Leadership Development (MLD) in Wales will necessitate anincrease in the demand-side in terms of encouraging increased take-up of skillsdevelopment programmes and raising awareness of the benefits of training to boththe company and the individual. However, to achieve this, and to successfullyengage those managers who are sceptical of the benefits of training, improvementsare required in the quality and relevance of the supply-side.2 HM Treasury (2000) Productivity in the UK3 WAG (2000): A Winning WalesManagement and Leadership Development in Wales: A Review of ProvisionFinal Report9In terms of quantity and availability, the system currently appears to be skewedtowards the supply side. For example, the Wales Management Council’s Agenda forAction suggests there are approximately 150,000 managers in Wales across allsectors. The findings in this report suggest there are an estimated 1601organisations offering at least 17,000 management and leadership programmes -approximately 1 course to every 10 managers. However the number of managersactually receiving some form of training in management and leadership skills islikely to total less than 10,000 - which would appear unsustainable. These figuressuggest some rationalisation is required to ensure managers are able to see thewood for the trees and some quality assurance of supply is introduced.The report also highlights the wide variety and high numbers of courses availablevia HE and FE – altogether over 500 ‘courses’ are on offer. However differences indata collection procedures and methodologies meant meaningful estimates of thenumber of participants were difficult. For example, there was a lack of consistentdata relating to the status of part time learners and so the report could not estimateaccurately the approximate number of ‘managers’ engaged in managementdevelopment. However, a more dependable data set is being developed by theHigher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) which will help the development offuture estimates.With the Objective 1 Programme reaching its mid term the report devotesconsiderable space to assessing the management and leadership programmesbeing delivered with European funding. The vast majority of these programmes arebeing delivered by the public sector. However, the full evaluation of theseprogrammes has not yet reached the public domain so little data currently exists fora meaningful analysis of the nature of the provision and number of beneficiaries.Another major part of the study was devoted to an analysis of management andleadership providers in the private sector. The study found a vast array ofprogrammes being offered of which less than a third are accredited andapproximately a third of those accredited are GNVQs. Encouragingly, the studyfound that more than 60% of the providers advised they were delivering‘management development’. However the study found the sector is diffuse anduncoordinated with more than two-thirds of providers being micro organisations.A key element of the report was an assessment of the ‘Learning Network’. Fromqualitative evidence gathered from interviews with key stakeholders a SWOTanalysis of current provision was developed. Whilst a number of strengths weredetailed there were also weaknesses that need addressing. However it wasencouraging to note the large number of opportunities that stakeholders identifiedcompared with the areas that required action because they were perceived asthreats.Management and Leadership Development in Wales: A Review of ProvisionFinal Report10To some extent the analysis of this section suggests the Learning Network is acomplex area that requires more detailed mapping and evaluation in order toproduce a more accessible and quantifiable offering to potential members. Atpresent the network is too diffuse and confusing to allow end users to engage fully.The report concludes with a summary and a list of recommendations thatincorporate key findings.Despite limited time and resources to undertake a more extensive survey andconduct more detailed discussions with stakeholder groups the report hasproduced some extremely useful data and the SWOT analysis has been veryinformative. It is worth noting that our desk research uncovered DTI fundedinitiatives in England that are carrying out similar research and mapping exercisesbut are being underpinned by much greater resources. (This is one example wherethe devolution settlement appears to be reducing the amount of resources availablefor undertaking strategic policy reviews in Wales compared with England.) It islikely that much will be learned from the more extensive studies being carried outacross the border – some costing ten or twenty times more than similar studies inWales – and when these DTI reports are published, a comparison of the results islikely to prove extremely productive and interesting.
Keywords: Leadership and management development, leadership development, wales
College: Professional Services