Partnership projects with the University of Huddersfield

Calderdale Council and the University of Huddersfield have completed a successful second year of innovative data projects.  

The collaboration involved MBA and MSc students taking on a range of research projects using open data on Calderdale Dataworks, data from the Council’s Performance and Business Intelligence team, as well as new data generated by the students, allowing them to engage with local government services to provide a new perspective on some of the challenges faced. 

Subjects covered this year include the impact of 30 hours free childcare funding, regional social work labour market analysis and maximising the number of licensed ceremonies performed in Calderdale. 

The Council has benefited from the students’ insight and in-depth research, while the collaboration has increased students’ knowledge of local government services, providing them with professional experience, transferable skills and exposure to real-life issues. 

Impact of 30 hours free childcare funding

From September 2017, the government has provided 30 hours free childcare to children of working parents. Students investigated the impact of this new offer on childcare provision in Calderdale, by analysing key datasets and gathering direct feedback from providers by way of interviews and surveys. They looked at how the new provision affected supply and demand of different kinds of provision, and analysed the relative strengths of different business models within Calderdale’s diverse childcare market.

The research identified different trends and adjustments in different kinds of settings, and made recommendations for further work around the support we can offer to childcare providers in understanding successful business models.

Regional social work labour market analysis

The project aimed to provide evidence to support the development of a regional labour market analysis which seeks to identify supply and demand issues within the social work workforce across West and North Yorkshire. The project had two elements:

  1. Identifying and understanding factors which may influence demand for social work in the future to assist local authorities with forecasting future workforce requirements;
  2. Improve understanding of the issues and challenges faced by Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) in their first year in practice to inform future pre-qualifying academic and practice curriculum development and local authority support arrangements.

The students used statutory Children’s and Adults’ Social Care workforce data collections to identify trends in the supply of social workers and SSDA903 Children Looked After and Children in Need Census data alongside Short and Long Term Support data to help build a picture of demand in Children’s and Adults’ social care.  They used future population estimates and identified 10 NQSWs who were in their first year of practice with Calderdale Council who could participate in the qualitative element of the research. 

The students focussed on secondary research to understand the factors that affect the demand for social workers, which also informed the questions used during the qualitative research with NQSWs.  The interviews were a very informative part of the research and helped identify factors for high staff turnover, such as: Level of preparedness; Expectation vs Reality; Job satisfaction/demand. 

The recommendations focussed largely around the experience of the NQSWs and included: Pay and reward; manageable caseload/workload; positive support and communication from supervisors/peers; increase preparedness by Universities prioritising practical experience over theory and a campaign to highlight the positives to social work as a career choice.   The findings of this research have been shared with the service lead and the Project Manager for the Yorkshire Urban & Rural Social Work Teaching Partnership, who plans to share this with partners.

Maximising the number of licensed ceremonies in Calderdale

This project was for students to develop a business case or plan to maximise the number of ceremonies performed each year across all venues and to conduct market research into innovative and creative approaches and look at future trends in the ceremonies offer for Registrar services.  There was a focus on income generation for the Council; improving the offer to customers to use a wider range of licensed venues and on the types of ceremonies performed; more efficient use of existing buildings and venues; an enhanced awareness of new trends and areas of potential future growth in the ceremonies offer and how to raise the profile and reputation for licensed ceremonies in Calderdale venues

The students produced individual reports and summary posters which identified current trends, opportunities and business challenges for the wedding ceremonies market in Calderdale, the sub-region and nationally using different business models.  Each one included recommendations for the Council to consider on how to increase the number of ceremonies, strengthen existing customer loyalty and attract new customers through a range of actions including greater use of web and social media promotion, targeted marketing and offers, developing a new brand, high quality customer service, and systematic customer information collection.

We were delighted to continue our collaboration with the University of Huddersfield into a second year. Our Vision for Calderdale in 2024 (which marks our 50th anniversary) is for a place where you can realise your potential whoever you are and to be a place where talent and enterprise can thrive. Clearly this innovative work with students meets these aims along with our ambition to become more intelligence led and make effective use of data to make evidence based decisions. We’re also committed to becoming open by default so it’s great to see the students making use of the wealth of open data published on Calderdale DataWorks and we thank them for their efforts.

Claire Broadbent – Performance and Business Intelligence Team Leader, Calderdale Council

It has been a great pleasure to work with Calderdale Council. The focus of these projects is to engage Huddersfield Business School, represented by academics, MSc and MBA students, in activities with local authorities and businesses. It provided societal and economic benefits and demonstrated students’ involvement in knowledge exchange activities. This is embedded in our School’s mission “enriching lives… enhancing organisations… engaging communities”. Conducting these projects with Calderdale Council enriches our teaching and application of knowledge, evidence of effectiveness and impact of students and academics on the surrounding environment. We are looking forward to expand our collaboration in the coming years.

Dr Radi Haloub – Senior Lecturer in Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Consultancy Route Leader at the University of Huddersfield