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Developing Careers through Social Networks and Transversal Competencies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DEVELOP (Developing Careers through Social Networks and Transversal Competencies)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2019-10-31

DEVELOP is creating tools and methods to support career development and talent management in medium and large organisations.

Careers are unique and personal. They evolve over a person’s lifetime and contribute to their personal, social and economic wellbeing. However, employees are facing increased working lives and longer careers, changing labour markets with reduced job security and a growing demand for adaptable workers with increased mobility. Our goal is to provide a fundamental change in the way competency growth and career development is experienced, analysed and supported in large organisations.

Our approach is to enhance employee awareness and understanding of career development, through highlighting the transferrable skills that apply across jobs and facilitate internal mobility and the need for trust, mutual understanding and cooperation for career development. Moreover, we aim to better understand employees through novel assessment methods and aid development through revealing potential career paths and the learning interventions needed to achieve them.

Overall, our objective is to pioneer the use of personalisation, game-based assessment, social network analysis, and artificial intelligence (AI) planning for learning environments on career development. Within this, we will develop a personalised learning environment for career development, a framework for the assessment of transversal competencies in the workplace, tools for the analysis of workplace social networks, methods to balance the data privacy interests of employees and employers, evidence that our approach benefits individual learning and comprehensive dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results.

DEVELOP uniquely combines research in personalisation and learning technologies (Trinity College Dublin), social network analysis and AI planning (University of Bristol, University of West England, Bristol, IBM Ireland), competency assessment and quality management (GITP, Tracoin Quality), and data privacy and data protection (Trilateral Research). It aims for innovative solutions through partnering with Learning and Talent Management vendors (IMC, GITP, IBM Ireland), and end-users from multinational companies (IBM Ireland, Intrasoft International) and the public sector (Trinity College Dublin).
The main technical results are new software tools, a new framework for competency assessment, a new leadership assessment game, new datasets, new social network analysis algorithms, a privacy impact assessment on the DEVELOP software, scientific publications and technical reports.

DEVELOP has built a first software prototype of our personalised learning environment for career development. The design of the tool involved user requirements gathered through Design Thinking workshops with partners IBM Ireland and Intrasoft International. The learning environment implements our new transversal competency assessment framework developed by Trinity College Dublin and GITP. This framework shows how direct and indirect assessment results can be combined from varying instruments and of varying reliability, to generate a comprehensive competency profile for a learner.

The learning environment developed by Trinity College Dublin integrates tools and services developed by the project partners. A novel game-based leadership assessment developed by GITP has been successfully integrated. This game engages learners in an adaptive video-based assessment to assess leadership styles and versatility. A competency management system designed and built by Tracoin Quality provides for the management of competencies models and learner assessment results. An AI planning service designed and built by University of Bristol provides personalised learning recommendations based on a learner’s goal, their competency profile and the available learning resources. A Social Learning Tool designed and built by IMC allows learners to engage in non-formal social learning with colleagues and provides peer assessment results back to the learning environment.

To consider career development as a social process, the University of Bristol; the University of West England, Bristol; and IBM Ireland have developed tools and techniques to analyse workplace social interactions. This analysis is identifying workplace social network structures of importance to career development, including metrics to quantify employee social capital.

To validate the developed algorithms, anonymised datasets of real world workplace social networks are being used. These valuable datasets will ensure the validity and suitability of the developed algorithms. To ensure the development of ethically and legally sound software tools, a Privacy-by-Design approach has been used throughout the project, led by Trilateral Research. This work has included engagement with expert stakeholders and an initial privacy and ethical impact assessment on the personalised learning environment.

To disseminate our work the project has published 40 blog posts on all aspects of the project and engaged with stakeholders through our website and social media channels. We have published three scientific articles and one white paper as well as presenting DEVELOP at several industry and academic conferences. Significantly, we have started to explore the exploitation of the project outputs. This includes identifying our key exploitable results, working with a consultant to develop our exploitation strategy and applying for a grant to conduct a market feasibility study.
DEVELOP has contributed considerably to extending the scientific state-of-the-art in many areas, including transversal competency assessment, data privacy and ethics in technology-enhanced learning and social network analysis for career development.

Our game-based leadership assessment combined with our framework for transversal competency assessment progresses the use of diverse sources of competency assessment to understand workplace transversal competencies. Our application of privacy-by-design into an agile software development lifecycle is identifying new guidelines for privacy-enhanced learning software development. Our consideration of diverse sources of workplace social network interactions combined with novel social capital algorithms will aid in automatically highlighting the role of workplace social networks in career development.

By providing our use-case partners with tools that support career development and talent management we are both aiding employee career development and supporting increased company productivity. For employees, we are highlighting realistic and attainable career paths and the learning necessary to achieve this. This ultimately will aid life-long employability and workforce mobility. For companies, we will support efficient use of training budgets, a flexible workforce, improved skill matching and reduced attrition costs. This will increase competitiveness, adaptability to market trends and sustainability.

To ensure impact after the project ends, we are focussing on rigorous evaluation and validation of our research. This will then be disseminated to benefit other researchers and to progress the state-of-the-art. We have already begun publishing our research results and will increasingly do so as our evaluation work accelerates. In terms of exploitation, we have already made significant impact with our game-based assessment tool being exploited commercially.