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Higher education professional services staff have coped with online working, survey shows


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Sahan

Most professional services staff in higher education have given a positive response to online working during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Jisc.

The membership organisation for technology in higher and further education added, however, that work is still needed to further develop digital skills.

Its report on the issue is the third in a series looking at digital experiences during the pandemic and is focused on staff who perform a variety of non-teaching roles, including administrators, librarians and IT specialists. It is based on a survey that received 4,056 responses from 14 universities in the UK.

This showed that 92% were working virtually during the pandemic, in line with professional services staff across the country, and 87% said their experience of the support available was at least ‘good’. In addition, 73% said they had received support and training.

But there were signs of shortcomings in equipping people with the necessary skills: only 16% said they had had an assessment of their digital skills and 10% had received recognition for those they had developed.

Most staff said they had little time to develop their skills, with only 14% saying they had training in creating digital learning material, 7% in digital copyright and 5% in social media management.

Need to enhance workforce

“As recruitment and retention issues look likely to continue in the foreseeable future, there is a real need for the sector to engage properly with training and development to ensure we conserve and enhance our workforce,” Charlie Ball, senior consultant for labour market intelligence at Jisc writes in the foreword.

He also emphasises the need for organisation to support the wellbeing of staff engaged in hybrid working.

Commenting on the results in all, he says: “This survey shows we have strengths in IT and digital support that could be allied with more investment in training to help the higher education professional services workforce feel confident they are ready for the challenges of the future.”

The report follows others on the digital experiences of students and teaching staff in higher education.



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