The SALAMI project has attracted much interest through its' approach of aggregating and linking datasets pertinent to choice, information and careers/employment advice.
The two consultation events have offered the project opportunities to both influence, and gain influence from a range of experts in their fields.
During the course of the project, the political landscape has changed dramatically. Reductions in Connexions services and the availability of professional advisers for young people together with the removal of Aimhigher and other public services, are relocating 'choice' within the marketplace. An increasingly competitive job market for leavers of education, and uncertainty for many recently redundant workers places the need for advice and support in making life choices of career or education ever more pertinent.
New initiatives such as the BIS's All Age Careers Service and HEFCE's Key Information Set are developing more online services for users.These services will provide front-end web interfaces, but also importantly, they will house large datasets holding information about courses.
Shared services, open data and effeciency are very much in vogue with the current government. Perhaps the intention is that these approaches will help to streamline other services which are being decreased.
For shared services to truly have an impact in the area of 'information for choice' then thegovernment-sponsored datasets must be opened up in a machine-readable format, using open standards where they exist.
SALAMI touches on a range of needs: instiutions - who offering and plan courses, local authority - who plan provision, careers/connexions services - who advise, individuals - who are making choices.
It also provides a new way to present information and data in this particular domain.
From the two events, we have had comments such as "when can we have it?" plus "there must be caveats about the data".
SALAMI aims to provide the following by the end of the project:
1. A tool that people can take and use
2. Web services to provide linked data services between course information, job profiles and official LMI statistics
3. Recommendations on suitablity of datasets, and data required
The caveats point is extremely important. Data can be represented (or mis-represented) in numerous ways. It can never be perfect - this is where intermediary advice is also important - but cannot be guaranteed. The web services layer to link between data sets has enourmous potential. Within the scope of SALAMI, we can only do so much. We would however like to build on this set of services to provide a 'cleaned up buffer' between the raw sets of data and the applications which can make use of them.