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Smart approaches to skills and tourism planning with Glasgow Life

Over the past two years the Institute for Future Cities has been collaborating with partners in the Philippines exploring the role of low skilled workforce in smart cities. Focusing on the tourist sector, the research is addressing the often neglected impact on low wage and low skill groups as cities position themselves as ‘smart’.

Depute Director Robert Rogerson and Professor Thomas Baum, head of Strathclyde’s Department of Human Resources Management have been working closely with colleagues from University of the Philippines, Diliman and skills development agencies in both Scotland and the Philippines.

The research collaboration – supported by a British Council Newton grant – has sought to identify connections and commonalities within big data collected by local authorities, in order to inform regional strategies and jobs growth policy. While there are different social challenges facing communities in Metro Manila and Glasgow, there is lots of opportunity to share learning around data analysis – understanding best practice, the constraints to data sharing and aggregation,- and to develop better understanding of how to approach the management of data among local partners.

In Glasgow, we have been collaborating with Glasgow Life, in particular around the City Tourism Plan to identify skills challenges and gaps in capacity. Evident from this work is the need for better data, and more coherent management intelligence, that can illustrate the impact of marginalised groups and non-participation in the labour market.

This scoping exercise is allowing us to delve into existing data sets, looking to see what we can extract from this knowledge resource that can inform better tourism planning. We hope to develop a methodology to map, record and inform policy making, tourism markets and product development, skills and capacity assessments around local opportunities and track the changing profile of employment.

This is an ambitious piece of work – within a limited time frame – which we hope will tell a story around the economic drivers for tourism in the Glasgow region, the utility of the data in generating this picture. This project comes at a logical moment for the city, where partners led by Skills Development Scotland are planning a City Region Skills strategy, alongside the recently published City Tourism strategy. While cultural barriers still exist within organisations around data, we hope that by taking a more holistic approach to big data, that we can identify the value of particular data sets among the cohort of partners, and what connections between this data reveals. Taking a place-based approach to this research, will bring clarity around how data can shape a more local tourism proposition, and positive impacts for communities.