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Evaluation of Leadership and Management Programmes

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What our client wanted

ekosgen were appointed by the Northern Ireland Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) in December 2010 to assess the impacts of four Leadership and Management Programmes funded by the Department since April 2008. Over the past three years, DEL has invested £6.4m in a broad portfolio of management and leadership development programmes aimed at supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises across Northern Ireland. With almost 1,500 organisations having participated in the programmes in the last three years, DEL identified a need to consider:

  • Whether the delivery model was effective and appropriate to the needs of participating companies.
  • What influence the programmes were having on management and leadership behaviours.
  • The impact of the programmes on wider economic performance including employment and business competitiveness.
  • Options for future programme design and funding.

Four individual programmes were specified for evaluation – Management Analysis and Planning (MAP), Management and Leadership Development Programme (MLDP), Intro Graduate Management and Meridian – all of which are delivered by external business support providers/advisors.

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What we did

Over the course of the evaluation, the company undertook three elements of primary research – a telephone survey with 283 participating companies and 40 graduates, face-to-face interviews with 20 company representatives and an extensive consultation programme with 22 delivery organisations and strategic stakeholders. The companies sampled were representative of the overall population of organisations by sector and by year in which they were assisted. We partnered with a dedicated telephone research consultancy based in Belfast (MRNI) who delivered the beneficiary and graduate surveys, whilst completing the face to face consultation element in house over a period of two weeks.

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What difference we made

The research confirmed that there remains a strong rationale for Government intervention to address the lack of investment in management and leadership skills made by SMEs in Northern Ireland. The research also highlighted that providers of management and leadership training support need to be better integrated with each other, and the ways in which companies find out about and access business support need to be made much more simple.

Our analysis led to an overarching recommendation: that DEL should continue to prioritise funding for management and leadership skills and support firms to develop their leadership capabilities. We also recommended that a subsidy for SMEs to participate in the programmes should be retained, with the maximum intervention rate being capped at 40% of the total eligible costs.

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What our client said

"ekosgen produced a tender document for an evaluation exercise we wished to complete. It was succinct, crisp and clear. Having won the contract we found the company a pleasure to work with - thorough, quick to understand the nuances of our business, courteous, focused on meeting our deadlines and with a high quality report at the end that complied with all our requirements. All in all, a first class job and a pleasure to work with....."

Mervyn Langtree, Head of Management Development,
Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland

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