It’s been a year like no other in which the pandemic has brought disruption to both our working and personal lives. Covid-19 has brought a scale of challenges that organisations across the world have not experienced before and had to overcome with speed.

Many people experienced a rapid shift to remote working and have not returned to the workplace since March 2020 with those that have, experiencing a much changed environment.

The world of work is constantly changing with factors such as industry 4.0, demographic shifts and climate change, but the impact of the pandemic has accelerated those changes for everyone.

The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model is a globally recognised management framework that supports organisations in managing change and improving performance. It’s a self-assessment framework for measuring the strengths and areas for improvement of an organisation across all its activities.

EFQM helps organisations understand the gaps and possible solutions available and empowers them to progress and significantly improve their organisation’s performance.

The EFQM model has helped Skills Development Scotland (SDS) lead from the front when it comes to organisational agility, adaptability and continuous improvement, especially over the last year when changes to the world of work have been accelerated by the pandemic.

As the skills agency for Scotland, working in schools and careers centres and delivering Scottish Apprenticeships, SDS is passionate about skills and their contribution to a modern, innovative and prosperous Scottish economy, and continuously looks for ways to improve its delivery of products and services.

SDS CEO Damien Yeates said: “The EFQM model helps us ensure we are fit for purpose as an organisation. We believe that working with the model made us ready to cope with COVID-19.”

“It helped us clearly understand the nature of the challenge of mobilising over 1700 people when we went into lockdown. We transitioned to an online environment almost overnight and we stepped up communications too. Our staff were so engaged, and they truly went above and beyond.”

Over the last few years SDS has shifted to a distributed approach to purpose-led management. “We empower people to do their jobs using what we call Everyday Leadership, which is based around ‘the three Cs’ - clarity, competency and control,” says Damien.

“As an organisation we were already raising the bar by the time COVID came. We’ve been asking ourselves for so long ‘What can we push for? How can we improve? How can we truly understand the value our customers are looking for?’ So, when we really needed to be, we were incredibly well prepared. The framework had given us real rigour.”

That rigour also applies to ensuring that SDS constantly measures and improves its performance. Quality assurance and constant improvement is a central part of SDS’s philosophy.

Damien says, “One of the benefits of having assessors coming in from other sectors is that they tend to always bring some fresh thinking and their experience is like gold dust. They’re like a critical friend - encouraging us to look beyond our own environment and even further towards international best practice.”

In 2021 Skills Development Scotland were awarded EFQM 7-star recognition.

Trusted by thousands of organisations worldwide for more than 30 years, the EFQM Model not only remains relevant but continues to set the management agenda for any organisation wanting a long term, sustainable future.

EFQM Members come from organisations all over the world, from any size, sector and maturity, all striving for excellence. They include household names such as BMW, Robert Bosch and Siemens through to schools, charities, cities, and banks.


This article was brought to you in partnership with Skills Development Scotland.