The Ascent Programme.
A comprehensive training and support programme for women, Ascent was developed to give employed women the opportunity to learn key team leading and management skills in addition to gaining a recognised qualification.
Women taking part in Ascent enjoyed a range of personal benefits that included:
Gaining a recognised Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualification.
Tailored 1 to 1 support, advice and guidance.
Mentoring sessions and networking opportunities.
Invitations to free events.
Access to apply for a further training allowance.
Use of career development resources on the Agile Nation website.
My Agile Nation.
Katie Cole, Senior Project Officer.
Katie Cole, pictured: seated, front / right side.
During the project, I worked with hundreds of women of all ages, working at different levels in a variety of companies. During my first meeting with a participant, I banned the word, ‘just’. “I just work as an Administrator, I just look after customers.”
I encouraged women to talk about their careers, aspirations and barriers. We supported women at all stages of their career paths; entering the workplace; reaching management level before / after starting a family; balancing caring commitments; returning from maternity leave; existing managers and those entering the final years of their careers.
Weekly ‘women only’ course sessions provided a supportive and safe learning environment. Experiences were shared candidly and eyes opened to new perspectives on careers, roles and workplace issues. Following completion of the ILM qualification, women became more confident in their abilities and applied this to their workplace and longer term career development.
One woman felt confident enough to project herself more assertively in the office, which helped her gain respect from the small team she managed. Other women were supported to apply for promotion and were successful in their applications.
Career development workshops held during daytime and evenings enabled women to access additional learning opportunities. Awards Ceremonies were held to congratulate participants on their accomplishments. Achieving an ILM certificate was most poignant for women who had not completed any training since their school days or had no qualifications.
In total 2,921 women took part in Ascent.
They were grouped into 233 cohorts that ran across South East, South West and North Wales and in total 2,298 ILM level 2 and 3 qualifications were achieved.
The Agile Nation team provided over 105,000 contact hours with the women and as of 2014, a total of 349 women have already progressed to more senior roles with a reported combined £400,000 increase in annual remuneration.
A further training allowance was also available for the participants to apply for. In total £147,693 was awarded to 192 applicants.
Importantly the Ascent programme has provided its participants with long lasting benefits, where the women have increased confidence, improved skills and crucially new ambitions to develop and progress their careers.
The benefits of the Ascent programme are best illustrated by women like Lauren Hayes from Abercarn; she sums up her experience of Agile Nation as follows, “I’m really glad I did the course because it gave me the confidence to apply for a new role and made me feel comfortable about approaching new challenges in and out of work.”
Lauren’s experience is typical of many of Agile Nation’s participants whose stories we’ve turned into case studies to help inspire other women on their own development journeys.
My Agile Nation.
Hazel has been part of the training team and she also worked extensively on the internal quality monitoring and auditing programme for Agile Nation. Hazel Brophy, pictured: centre, purple top.
Being able to deliver training to the women on Agile Nation has given me a massive sense of accomplishment.
During each cohort, week after week I’d see the women grow and their appetite to learn increase, which also meant they asked more questions! By the end of their training time and time again I’d see women whose outlook had been transformed.
Not only were they more confident, they’d become more ambitious and eager to take the next steps in their careers. I genuinely believe that for the majority of the women we’ve worked with they will have gained lasting benefits in terms of their careers and on-going learning.
Final Project Evaluation Findings for the Ascent strand:
Overall, a very high proportion of the women (95%) surveyed outlined that the support received had improved their skills and competences in some way.
In the majority of cases, women felt that the project had made them more productive in their work, significantly so in a third of women, whilst 57% felt that the project had made some difference in this respect.
Over 40% of survey respondents said the project had made a difference in helping them to gain promotions at work.
On average Ascent participants noted an increase in their annual salary of £1,059.00 following the Ascent support. This suggests that the support women received through Ascent has had a significant positive impact on the salary of many of its participants.
Participants do feel that the Ascent support will improve their career prospects over the long term, with 96% identifying some degree of positive impact in this respect.