University of the West of Scotland

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UWS ESTABLISHES FORMAL PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SCOTTISH SOCIAL SERVICES COUNCIL (SSSC)

University of the West of Scotland (UWS), which is committed to having a transformational influence on the economic, social and cultural development of Scotland, has established a formal partnership with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

The partnership will see UWS and SSSC working on a range of projects embracing joint research and knowledge transfer activity, as well as education and training programmes for SSSC's social service workforce. The initial project will be to develop a highly innovative and realistic learning platform using advanced gaming technology to simulate a range of scenarios that might arise in professional practice. This will be driven by emotional artificial intelligence (AI), to provide a safe and readily accessible environment where professional social workers who deal with vulnerable people can learn by interacting with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and others in a simulation of a real world service.

Professor Thomas Connolly, Director of University of the West of Scotland's Creative Technologies and Applied Computing Research Institute (ICTAC), said: "We are delighted to be establishing this important partnership with SSSC, which will see the development of high quality training and education for social service staff across Scotland.

"This partnership will provide new opportunities for staff and researchers to get involved in a range of collaborative activities around both using new technologies to help develop the professional workforce and also developing social service practitioners on the use of new and emerging, connected health, technologies. We view this work, which addresses a number of key Scottish Government policies, to be of societal and economic importance."

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is the regulatory body for social services in Scotland. There are over 191,000 core social service employees throughout Scotland and over 150,000 secondary tier volunteers, helpers & carers. Social Services provide care across a very broad demographic. It is the responsibility of SSSC to ensure that Social Services workers from across Scotland are equally capable of coping with the full range of challenging circumstances citizens find themselves in. The focus of professional activity covers all ages and stages of development, from early years through to services for older frail people, and includes services for people with a range of disabilities, mental health challenges and also youth and adult offending.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the SSSC, said: "Providing consistently high quality training and education, with staff numbers as high as they are and working across Scotland, is a challenge for employers and training providers in any industry.

"Games technologies have real potential when it comes to helping people to find ways of learning that really work for them and fit with the way they work and live. This is technology that we can all use to help social service workers to develop real-world practice skills in an environment where practical learning and assessment opportunities are at a premium.

"I am delighted that we are working with UWS, one of the leaders in the serious games field, and I am excited about this partnership and the potential our joint working has to shape learning now and for the future".

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