GovWire

Get help to retrain alpha assessment

Government Digital Service

February 4
12:21 2020

From: Government Digital Service
Assessment date: 21/02/2019
Stage: Alpha
Result: Met
Service provider: Department for Education

Service description

People want good jobs. Projections say automation in the labour market will change around 30% of existing roles, impacting the lower skilled the most - threatening their pay and conditions over time and displacing some entirely. Many people affected dont have the skills, confidence or social capital to thrive during this change to the jobs market. We want to improve their ability to compete, and secure good jobs long-term.

We are developing a set of linked products which together give low and medium-skilled workers optimised information, advice and guidance about a better job for them; and training and support to get that job. The Get Help to Retrain product (which is being assessed) helps people identify their skills and preferences and identify suitable jobs; understand jobs available locally; and identify suitable training that could help them to get that job.

Service users

People who are in employment; age 24+ and without a degree or equivalent level 6 qualification; who work in jobs at high risk of automation.

1. Understand user needs

Decision

The team met point 1 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team articulated who their user group was for this service: age 24+ and without a degree or equivalent level 6 qualification; who work in jobs at high risk of automation
  • through analysis of the research, the team did good work in highlighting six key factors when considering trainee users, which then informed their detailed user needs and personas. The findings of the research have also informed the development of their service to date, for example having a step-by-step guide through the process, the option to contact a careers advisor (through phone, email or chat) at each stage and showing distance to travel to each of the courses listed in the search
  • the team have done some great work on accessibility and inclusion. They identified a range of accessibility issues that their users face in employment and therefore would need to consider in developing their beta offering training courses
  • they also took the time to really understand the characteristics of their users and barriers they face

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • once in Beta, more work is needed to understand how this compliments or replicates other job search and training options available to employees, including the NCS itself
  • as this service is pulling on other existing services, its important to draw on the learning from those services, through evaluations and assessment feedback, to inform this service. Part of this is looking at the users journey to and from these add-ons
  • explore how the accessibility and barrier data will inform the development of the service

2. Do ongoing user research

Decision

The team met point 2 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team did a substantial amount of research to understand the needs of employees that are considering, or will need to consider, getting another job if their jobs become automated. They spoke to 420 people in total from around England, who were a mixture of employees, employers and service providers
  • one of the key elements of the service was the involvement of the whole team in the research process, particularly including their policy team, in site visit observations and analysis.
  • the team discussed how this helped to reduce bias in the research approach
  • the research consisted of depth and group interviews, co-design sessions, workshops and remote unmoderated usability tests
  • the team identified their four riskiest assumptions for the service, and explained that they had tested these with a small sample of their users. There are also more risky assumptions for the whole end-to-end journey, which will be tested in the other services. The team explained that they planned to test these with hundreds more people in private beta to reduce the risk of the service
  • the team highlighted that it may be difficult to recruit users to test their service in private beta because this user group arent necessarily motivated or contemplating looking for employment while in a job. The team mentioned that they may have to use incentives to recruit people

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • continue to iterate the quiz, maybe look at the added value this brings to the service, if any (how accurate is this? If this is being pulled from elsewhere, but tailored, how are user needs/research informing that process?)
  • continue to iterate the course filter, as users may need more than three options - how could the service best display those and how can they most usefully be filtered
  • iterate the distance to course part of the service and how can this include distance from work, or other locations

3. Have a multidisciplinary team

Decision

The team met point 3 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the service team comprises a mixture of experienced contract staff with permanent civil servants in the service owner and product owner. The key roles in a multi-disciplinary team were covered well, and all those present demonstrated a strong knowledge of the domain and challenges they face
  • it was clear that the DfE representatives present who led much of the discussion were enthusiastic converts to agile, user-centric practices and were able to bring a wealth of subject matter expertise into the development team

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • ensure that any team managing the National Retraining Service is sustainable, and this will likely require a shift away from contracted to internal specialists
  • ensure that the organisations recruitment plans are able to keep pace with the departments ambitions to develop digital services is key

4. Use agile methods

Decision

The team met point 4 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • this team has made a lot of progress, and developed new skills and working practices as a result of working in an agile, user-centric way
  • work began as a traditional policy-making team, but have taken what they describe as a hard turn into agile, user-centric design
  • as well as a delivery team working in line with agile principles, the team has also got a Programme Director who is fully engaged with the teams ways of working, and has also attended user research sessions alongside them. Consequently the responsible policy development is now being influenced by the outputs of user research, and they have used that to help Ministers understand this unfamiliar way of working

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • care should be taken to test risky assumptions before they reach beta development their current approach to researching for Alpha is clearly delivering benefits, but lightweight prototyping should remain part of their development approach into beta, to avoid costly, and avoidable, mis-steps
  • evidence from research suggests that there can be a mismatch between policy concept and real-world delivery, such as the experience discussing disposable income with people who didnt recognise the concept

5. Iterate and improve frequently

Decision

The team met point 5 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team has moved from a traditional procurement-based approach, seeking off the shelf technology solutions to stitch together, towards owning responsibility for and designing solutions within DfE
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