New Zealand applied psychology software company FutureSelves’ assessment tools have proved so useful at a local body agency in Glasgow, Scotland, that they are being recommended to all such agencies in the city.
The Glasgow South West Regeneration Agency was established more than 20 years ago to deal with high unemployment and associated social issues. In the case of the south west, it was because engineering work was collapsing on the banks of the Clyde River.
Mary-Theresa Smith, head of employability at the agency, says one of her advisors identified FutureSelves off the web three years ago and asked for it to be evaluated.
“We’d used a number of assessment tools, but had found a lot of them were quite cumbersome,” she says.
“We’ve found that FutureSelves enables detailed discussions with our clients at an early stage and that, almost from day one, it identifies potential barriers to employment, such as illiteracy or criminal convictions.
“It saves so much time that advisors are able to get to the real issues early.”
Smith says her area of Glasgow has quite a young population and that 20% leave school without any training.
Part of the agency’s funding comes from the European Social Fund.
“Everyone is very impressed with FutureSelves,” she says.
“You get very clear and colourful diagrams; both the clients and the funders are impressed.”
The breadth of the software modules enables barriers such as health issues to be identified. “We refer them to the right agencies,” Smith says. “FutureSelves has made a huge difference.
“Last year, we supported 2800 people into work and referred a third more for external support. We have supported 500 to achieve a recognised qualification, worked directly with 300 companies and organisations and helped nine new organisations to set up in business.
“We’re working hard to convince the other local regeneration agencies and other partners of the value of FutureSelves,” Smith says.
The software maps out how a person sees his or herself in the future. It does this by helping people to develop effective plans and strategies. Different versions of the software are used in rehabilitation and management development programmes. All share common approaches to developing a person’s motivation and decision-making skills, and enhancing performance.
In Glasgow, under the current economic crisis, people at risk of becoming unemployed are now seeking help from the agency, Smith says.
“We’ve delivered information and training in FutureSelves to staff from some of other agencies. All the agencies work closely together and look for best practice.”
“We’re getting whole families in now.
“Some of our board members have asked us to put their kids through the courses. The feedback is that the kids feel that it is the first time they have been listened to.”
Glasgow has an urban population of around 620,000, with around 1.2 million people in the hinterland.
FutureSelves is being used in New Zealand, the US, Australia and Hong Kong in the education, juvenile justice and corporate sectors. The original PhD research was done at WINZ in Porirua but aside from the Waitakere Youth Transition Services, WINZ has yet to employ the software.