Those responsible for functional disability issues and the companies that provide meals in Gothenburg’s association of local authorities, noticed during their development work, that employees skills were not being utilised in the best way. At the same time, it appeared that employees’ levels of education varied a lot. The project GRo wants to create attractive workplaces through structured learning.
Caption: GRo is investing in competence development within the field of functional disabilities
“When we saw the call for applications, it was like reading the end results of our earlier ESF project,” says Theresa Larsen, Project Manager for GRo, Organisational learning in the Gothenburg region and former evaluator of the project Samlat GRepp (Comprehensive Approach).
“We concluded from that project that a course for employees is not sufficient to develop an operation. We wanted to look more into informal learning and local activities, to utilise knowledge more effectively”, she says.
The Gothenburg region’s association of local authorities works like a hub for the 13 member municipalities. The project GRo includes five municipalities with a focus on functional disabilities and one that provides a meals service.
“This is an area where not so much money is spent compared to, for example, the care of the elderly. Even before the call for applications, the business managers had expressed a need to improve employee skills,” says Theresa Larsen.
Strong support – a part of the success
She argues that strong support among the staff is part of the recipe for success. She works within the Association of Local Authorities GR (Gothenburg Region), with one foot in the research world. At GR there is also a person responsible for EU affairs. There is also a network in the area of functional disabilities and a network for personnel managers that collects thoughts and desires for both the association and the project.
”A basic idea behind the activities we are investing in is that they will lead to sustainable structures for learning, such as the teaching of methods in which you can make use of already existing knowledge and how to take advantage of it,” says Theresa Larsen, adding that an important aspect of the implementation of the method is what she calls “smart goals”.
In order for participants to register for an activity, they have to establish objectives which commit them to making use of the knowledge and using it in practice, they do this together with their manager. If you go on a course, a ”smart goal” could be to start a study circle on how to deal with people with neuropsychiatric disorders,” she continues.
Important to educate network managers
“A lot of people in our target group work alone or in small work groups, so it is important to create and sustain networks where the staff can talk about issues of concern, both in their own municipality, but also across municipal boundaries,” says Theresa Larsen.
GRo involves the work of one thousand people and the idea is that everyone should benefit from the project, some through training courses and others through the study circles and networks that are created. Many participants are also involved in the development of training materials in the form of online courses and guides for study circles.
“Through the ”smart goals” we can monitor how the goals are put into practice, the number of study circles and networks that are created. We want to create stable structures for learning in our operations,” she says.