On 19th January 2010, the Local Authorities Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA) and the West Midlands Regional Observatory held a workshop session for local authority researchers in the region.
Around 30 researchers from councils across the West Midlands attended to discuss the new and emerging challenges facing us as researchers, to hear more about the support networks that exist to help us do our jobs better – at national, regional and local level – and to identify some positive actions where support networks could better help the local research community.
Support networks exist at all levels and the delegates were encouraged to make better use of them, and to get more actively involved.
LARIA (national), the West Midlands Regional Observatory , Improvement & Efficiency West Midlands, and the Black Country Observatory (local) all provided a flavour of the ways in which support is given to researchers in the West Midlands region. And we recognised there are many other networks too.
Key themes emerging from the discussions on the day, and those to be picked up by support networks, are:
- Better promotion of training, development and skills improvement opportunities
- Fostering better linkages with policy and other key decision makers
- Improving signposting, and the general sense of knowing what’s going on
- Creating opportunities for networking, sharing experiences and good practice
A very thought provoking day, and the support networks in the region are now identifying how we can work together to cover these challenging needs through the services we can offer.
As a next step we will be arranging future structured networking events for researchers around specific topics and themes. If you have ideas for topics we should include as part of these events, please do get in touch, we really do need to know what the key issues for you.
And on 27th April Improvement & Efficiency West Midlands are holding a joint workshop with Local Government Association and Office for National Statistics around the potential and scope for using Output Area Classifications, which promises to be a very relevant day for all engaged in customer insight work.