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mai242006

British Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC): A strong vision - no innovation, yet.

asc6524.gifasc_mustard_logo.gifOctober 2005, in Paris, at the European Launch of EUKN, the Britsh representative unveiled plans for an Academy for Sustainable Communities, ASC or "Skills Academy". The initiative came from the Cabinet of the Vice-Prime Minister, Government coordinator for Sustainable Communities Policy.

ASC can be seen as a complement to URBACT and EUKN European knowledge- and knowledge-capitalisation work. (See also our journal-post on ASC's programme: "A strong Vision - no innovation, yet")

The cross-sectoral competences of urban practitioners are an absolute must for doing this work. In practice, well trained specialists in, for instance, urbanism, have to acquire many other skills (administrative, social, economic, etq.) to succeed as a project manager in urban (re)development. In the academic world, the non-specialist (wholistic) specialism of urban community project managers, is not (yet?) accepted as a scientifically valuable approach. There is no scientific basis for our work, and, which is even more problematic, there is, as a consequence, no scientifically underpinned way to evaluate our work. Which leads to many instances of "evaluations ex-post", which do not value the input and the results of our project management. Which leads to wrong decisions on the political level.

The ASC is in so far a typically British contribution to the urban practitioners' landscape, in that it intends to offer a practical solution to this problem. ("No university? No academical interest? - OK, we will do it on ourselves!")

The ASC programmatic announcement, reproduced here, is strong and to the point in its more general wordings. A closer look at the agenda of conferences, schools, workshops and trainings that will take place during the coming months in Britain, reveals a rather unsurprising and poorly innivative list of events, most of which would have been organised anyhow, without the ASC.

But we should not be too severe: It may also be a part of the practical British approach, to start with an improvement campaign of trainings and skills development, within existing frameworks.

European Outreach

A very positive aspect of the ASC initiative, is the European Outreach that it plans to integrate into its curriculum and which is promoted by the British Government:

"The ASC will also be at the forefront of a growing international focus on sustainable communities. On behalf of Government, the ASC is taking forward the principles of the Bristol Accord and leading a Skills Symposium where experts from across Europe can promote good practice and share ideas. The ASC today announced that this conference will take place in Leeds on November 9th and 10th this year."

An URBACT/Eurocities/EUKN initiative appears to be needed, in order to make possible a timely European dissemination of the Urban Practitioners' Skills Academy concept. A bilateral-, country-twinning policy as seems to be envisaged by ASC, will take too long. The Leeds Conference is a good moment to launch such an initiative by ASC's European Urban knowledge partners.

Continental Europe has much to learn from our British colleagues. They have a long and hard experience. It is a very positive development, that, with the new ASC, this knowledge becomes more easily available for sharing with the rest of the EU. This is ASC's May 11 press release:

Skills Academy Unveils Vision For Delivering Sustainable Communities

At a major stakeholder event in Leeds, the Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) today announced its strategy and key priorities in a bid to put skills and knowledge at the heart of sustainable communities. For full details of the ASC’s priorities, please click here.

The vision underpins the organisation’s commitment to working with others to implement ground-breaking education and training programmes for young people, professionals and communities.

The ASC will focus its activities on three core target groups, with innovative initiatives to include:

Young People:

  • Developing curriculum content for pupils at secondary schools across the country.
  • Developing a cross-sector careers brand and launching national and regional marketing campaigns

Professionals:

  • Commissioning ground-breaking cross occupational learning and generic skills materials for a wide range of sustainable communities professions.
  • Working with private sector developers, consultants and investors to identify and develop a plan to address skills and knowledge shortfalls between the public and private sectors.

Communities:

  • Developing learning programmes for local communities to enable them to engage more effectively in the sustainable community process.
  • Developing learning programmes for community leaders, local government leading members and officers and Local Strategic Partnerships.

The ASC will also be at the forefront of a growing international focus on sustainable communities. On behalf of Government, the ASC is taking forward the principles of the Bristol Accord and leading a Skills Symposium where experts from across Europe can promote good practice and share ideas. The ASC today announced that this conference will take place in Leeds on November 9th and 10th this year.A mere positive aspect of the ASC

Peter Roberts, Chair of the ASC, said:

“We face acute skills shortages in this country and there are not enough young people taking up the opportunities available. Many professions are still constrained by occupational and organisation silos and we continue to repeat past mistakes. We also need to empower local people, raising aspirations to achieve sustainable communities and equipping them to influence the development of their own areas. The ASC is committed to eliminating these barriers and to bridging knowledge and skills gaps to ensure we create prosperous, thriving communities for generations to come.”

Gill Taylor, ASC Chief Executive, said:

“The ASC’s work will span the public, private, community and voluntary sectors as we aim to establish a co-ordinated approach to sustainable communities skills, knowledge and information exchange – one that only a national, cross-sector organisation such as the ASC can achieve. At the heart of our operations will be a highly collaborative approach. We have got to be smart as a sector and find ways of making links to complement and enhance what we all do.”


 

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