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Skills for Success Programme comes to an end - Interview with Markus Offer

Skills for Success Programme comes to an end - Interview with Markus Offer

As the Skills for Success Programme (SFS) comes to a close we're taking time to look back over the past 12 months and find out more about people's experiences. It can be easy to overlook the incredible effort and hard work that goes in to these programmes behind the scenes which is why we're interviewing Markus Offer, Programme Manager for Skills for Success, to find out about what it's like to coordinate an award winning vocational programme.  If you would like to listen to our SFS Learners talk about their experiences on the programme listen to our accompanying audio post

Markus Offer with the Skills for Success Creative and Cultural Skills Award Markus Offer with the Skills for Success Creative and Cultural Skills Award

What are your reflections at the end of the programme?

Looking back on the year, I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone. I’ve seen a huge difference in the learners since launching the programme on September 13th 2018. The growth in confidence, skills and professional development is incredible to see. I’m happy that the programme has been so successful, but there’s lot of things I would do differently. A lot of my reflections on the programme are around health and wellbeing and celebrating the work that museums and galleries do. For some people involved in the programme it’s been a challenging year professionally and personally. It’s really highlighted to me the duty of care that we have for our staff. We need to ensure we look after our staff like we look after our collections. I think it’s easy to forget about when you are so busy at work (and I’m certainly guilty of it), but it’s essential that we have some self-compassion and time to reflect on the work that we’re doing. Self-care improves resilience, quality of work and sustainability in your employment. I’m proud of all the learners who were involved in the programme and the different journeys that they’ve all undertaken. I also appreciate the support that the supervisors and mentors have given to the learners. Without the amazing staff involved and the flexible approach that this programme offered, it wouldn’t be as successful as it was. 

Did it go as you expected?

To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect. I had faith in our inclusive recruitment process and with the 37 diverse referral partners that promoted the programme to attract the biggest range of people. The recruitment days were a lot of fun and the feedback was excellent. Having such robust recruitment made for a sustainable group of learners that really earned the opportunity to be a part of the programme. I really didn’t expect to wear as many “hats” as I did this year. Managing the programme involved being an SQA co-ordinator, Centre Manager, Assessor, Internal Verifier, Manager, facilitator, evaluator, employment support, health and wellbeing advice, business development, partnership working, site visits, event planning, budgeting and many others. At times it could be overwhelming, but I loved the whole experience.

The reasonable adjustments that host organisations made for learners also sticks out for me. It shows that staff sustainability can be made much easier by bringing in appropriate reasonable adjustments depending on circumstances.

What's been most memorable from the year?

I’ll always remember this year as being one of the most challenging and enjoyable of my career. I really loved visiting different museums involved in the programme. Having the learners show me around felt like a real privilege. The reasonable adjustments that host organisations made for learners also sticks out for me. It shows that staff sustainability can be made much easier by bringing in appropriate reasonable adjustments depending on circumstances.

Do you have a favourite Museum in Scotland?

Yes, the Scottish Crannog Centre

What has it been like to visit all the learners on site?

What an amazing experience. I tried to bring back a fridge magnet from each one of the locations that I visited. Due to some of the museums being under refurbishment it's not been possible. It’s my biggest regret of the year 😉. What I was so impressed by was the knowledge and passion of museums staff and the learners. I could listen to people talk about what they love endlessly. It makes me so happy to listen to someone who loves what they do.

A young Asian woman giving a guided tour of Aberdeen Maritime Museum One of the Skills for Success learners giving a guided tour of Aberdeen Maritime Museum.

Do you hope the learners stay in touch?

I hope the learners stay in touch both with each other and MGS. I know that quite a few of them will definitely stay in touch. They'll be going on to work for their host organisations once the programme comes to an end. My passion is working with people and helping in whatever way I can to improve quality of life. I’ve told the learners that I’m here to support them for as long as they need me. I’ll continue to offer support until I move on to my next challenge and adventure. When that happens, MGS will be here to support the learners when they need us. I know that the learners have made close relationships with each other and they all have a whatsapp group together. I hope they continue to stay in touch and visit each other in their new roles, as they’ve been doing during the programme.

Final thoughts?

I strongly believe that projects like Skills For Success are essential for the sector to see the value in having a diverse workforce. Having a workforce that accurately reflects our society is something that we can strive towards and Skills For Success and the legacy of its learners will show the sector those benefits.

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Published 13 September 2019