Learning from What Works in Sustainable Community Development: Closing the Skills Gap and Raising the Competencies of Core Occupations

By Mark Deakin.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Previous evidence-based reviews of neighbourhood renewal have suggested, ‘learning from what works’ provides the means to close the skills gap and raise competencies of the core occupations responsible for the development of sustainable communities. The common thread running through all these reviews, be they governmental, academic, or professional, is their perception of the problem (the skills shortage) and the solution (closing the gap between skills needed and competencies required). Working within this shared perception, such reviews draw particular attention to the over-dependence on ‘subject specific’, as opposed to generic skills and the need for the core occupations to redress this by shifting their knowledge-base away from the technical domains of the former and towards the social competencies required from the latter.

This paper wholeheartedly agrees with this interpretation of what needs to be done to effectively meet the challenge which the Egan Report (2004) poses. It proposes that to meet this challenge we need to put learning at the centre of the actions taken to close the gap (between subject-specific and generic skills), shift the knowledge-base (from the former to the latter) and use this as a platform to raise the competencies understood as being required to do this. Indeed the paper argues that: if we are to turn the situation around, the task is to learn about the generic skills which are needed to shift the knowledge-base from the former to the latter and how the inclusive visions they in turn generate can be put to work in raising the competencies of those core occupations responsible for sustaining the development of communities. For while the Egan report (2004) ranks the generic skills of inclusive visioning as ‘first order’ priorities, it fails to set out what can be learnt about this shifting knowledge-base and how they can be successfully put to work in raising the competencies of those core occupations responsible for sustaining the development of communities.

Keywords: Sustainable Community Development Socially-inclusive Visioning Community-based Approach, Urban Regeneration, Collaborative Planning, Property Development, Architectural Design, Environmental Improvement Programmes

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.97-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 837.437KB).

Prof. Mark Deakin

Head of Centre for Sustainable Communities, Institute of Sustainable Construction, School of Engineering and Built Environment, Napier University, Edinburgh, Lothian, UK


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