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Key Skills Analysis reviewed

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Title: Key Skills Analysis: A resource for analysing job content and training needs and for selecting training and development programmes.
Authors: Lesley Howard and Rose Taw
Publisher: Gower
Format: A4 loose-leaflet
ISBN: 056608256X
Price: £75

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The term 'Key Skills' still seems to have very varied meanings for different people. This manual starts by providing quite a good introduction to those underpinning, transferable and non-job-specific skills which are now set out in the QCA's (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) Key Skill specification. We are, in fact, dealing with the issues of communication, application of number, using information technology, improving own learning and performance and working with others. These are skills needed by most people in the workplace to cope with rapidly paced change. The authors also believe that most people in work need to be competent in such areas as:

  • Working co-operatively in a team
  • Understanding instructions for new work roles
  • Completing new work documentation
  • Keeping up with computerization in their jobs
  • The assessment materials and approaches given in the manual deal with the five key areas.

    The aim of the manual is to offer a methodology to enable the user to carry out a Key Skills and Key Skills training analysis in their own organization. All necessary documentation is provided. Apart from material quoted from prior sources everything in the manual is freely available to be photocopied for educational or training events. The caveat exists of course that large scale reproduction is not permissible without permission from the publishers.

    There are three parts to the publication:

    Part 1 What are Key Skills?
    Part II How to use the Assessment Tools
    Part III Planning a Key Skills training programme

    Each part has several chapters and the overall contents page is detailed and comprehensive. Personally, I would have found the pack easier to use had it had dividers and perhaps more distinctive section header pages. This small 'niggle' doesn't detract too much from the contents which are clear, stylistically accessible and very informative.

    The Key Skills analysis is a collection of practical tools to identify and analyse Key Skill competences in entire organizations, individuals and teams. Once the reader has identified the requirements the manual gives indicators on how to fill the gaps.


    A three stage process is outlined:

    1. Assess the skills required for a particular role
    2. Assess how far the candidate exhibits these skills
    3. Identify the gaps

    Three types of assessment tools are provided, self-assessment checklists, one-to-one interviews using lists and/or questionnaires and assessment via tasks.

    Useful and sensible guidelines for good practice are also included. One or two of the assessment instruments may seem a little simplistic but overall the material is useful, clear and would be simple to use and analyse.

    The third section, 'Meeting the Key Skills needs of your employees' helps to pull everything together and proffers sensible advice on planning a programme to meet identified needs.

    The final chapter details how the manual and its contents relate to the QCA Key Skills unit.

    In the short-term the manual will provide help in shaping training provision based on objective information. In the longer term what it initiates could provide a useful basis for tackling broader problems.

    The material is well pitched in the main, relevant to the experienced trainer with a knowledge/action short-fall in this area but also understandable to line managers to whom responsibility for staff development has been devolved.

    Despite the few personal niggles noted, I feel this pack is good value and would be a useful addition to many HR libraries and collections.


    Diane Bailey, 24/05/01.

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