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Continuing evaluation as part of the Innovation Assistant in Lapland training

In the Innovation Assistant in Lapland project, continuing education combining work and training was built for jobseekers with a higher education degree. Continuous evaluation was aimed at supporting the development of the new training model and at helping to tailor it to meet the needs of the target group.  The information produced by the evaluation on the functioning of the training model could be utilised immediately and made it possible to develop the training programme into a well-functioning and high-quality entity over three years.

Implementation of the good practice 

The Innovation Assistant in Lapland project lasted for 3.5 years. During the project, five Innoassari training courses were organised for jobseekers with a higher education degree. During each training course, the operating model was developed and improved on the basis of systematic evaluation work. When the training was first launched, an evaluation plan was made for the duration of the entire project.

Evaluation was carried out through group discussions, telephone interviews and electronic surveys both with the higher education graduates participating in the training programme (the innovation assistants) and with the organisations employing them. In addition, evaluation discussions were conducted in the expert team and in the steering group. Evaluation was carried out as a natural part of the training entity, allowing the information to be used immediately in the development of the ongoing training and in the implementation of the following training course.

After the first training courses, it was noticed that major improvements and changes of direction were required in the project plan. Thanks to the continuous evaluation, the changes of direction were carried out so successfully that in the end, only minor adjustments were needed to polish up the operating model. The long implementation time reserved for the project also made it possible to conduct a preliminary assessment of the results and the impacts after the project.

Results

  • Real-time evaluation data helps in the continuous development of training and ensures that a high-quality operating model meeting the needs of the target group is built.
  • Because evaluation was implemented systematically as an integral part of practical project work, its effectiveness in the development of the training programme was good. The strengths of both an external evaluation and self-assessment could be used in the evaluation process.
  • In the original project implementation model, the training and pay subsidy were compulsory for the participants. In the initial stage, the jobseekers and the work could not be matched. The fact that along with the changes made to the operating model, the entire training period was implemented as independent training and the pay subsidy was offered to the employer as a possibility for further employment had a positive effect on the success of the training.
  • A total of five Innoassari training courses have been organised in the project. They had 43 participants, of whom about one half were employed after the training. Thanks to the continuous evaluation, the training programme developed each time and the final result was a two-part training course that improved the participants' job search skills and development skills.

How to take advantage of the good practice

Continuous evaluation and learning from experimentations are suitable for development in which enough time has been reserved for the development process and in which iterative development is possible. A publication has been drawn up on the assessment carried out in the Innovation Assistant in Lapland project. The publication can be used by other parties carrying out projects or planning and implementing different kinds of training to draw up an assessment plan of their own to support high-quality development work.

Inquiries:

Tiina Pulju, Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, tel.  +358 295 037112,  tiina.pulju(at)ely-keskus.fi

Web site:

Lapin innovaatioassistentti (www.lapinamk.fi, in Finnish)
 

Further information on the project:

Structural Fund Information Service S20122
Priority axis 3. Employment and labour mobility
Specific objective 6.1 Promoting the employment of young people and those in a weak position in the job market