Browsing Centre for Work Related Studies by Subjects
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Effective Management of the Tripartite Relationship of Educational Providers, Participants and Employers in Work Based LearningAn increasing concern amongst many graduate employers has been the perceived poor quality of graduates entering employment. Some of the most common employer criticisms include a lack of commercial awareness, unrealistic work expectations and poor work readiness (Confederation of British Industry (CBI) 2011; Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) 2014). Moreover, many of the skills shortages observed amongst undergraduate students, appear to be equally common amongst postgraduate students, particularly given the forecast that one in seven jobs will require a postgraduate qualifcation by 2022 (Wilson and Homenidou 2012). The inference here is that the UK is likely to face a significant graduate and postgraduate skills gap by 2022 unless corrective action is taken. Growing concerns about business graduate skills are likely to force many universities to re-examine and reconfigure the content of, and their approach to, business education. This chapter focuses on the increasingly problematic and challenging postgraduate marketplace where universities not only face criticism regarding the skills levels of their graduates but where they also have to work hard to attract the most talented students and graduates. Here universities are not only competing against each other, but increasingly face a growing challenge from a range of private sector providers and employer-led graduate schemes. To gain a better understanding of if and how postgraduate provision is evolving to meet the needs of employers in the twenty-first century, we have adopted a ‘360 degree’, tripartite perspective of the postgraduate marketplace, exploring the interaction between the key players—students, employers and universities/educational institutions. Arguably, it is only when all three perspectives are brought together and understood fully, that it is possible to construct a sustainable postgraduate strategy and effectively locate learning in the workplace (Boud and Solomon 2001; Raelin 1997). In addition, this chapter examines the experiences and challenges of developing and managing an innovative 12 month intensive work based Masters programme (the Chester Business Master’s—CBM), which is located in the University’s Centre for Work-Related Studies (CWRS) and draws heavily on the core principles of reflective learning based around a negotiated learning contract. Here the strengths and weaknesses of the programme are examined through the ‘tripartite lens’ of the students, employer and university perspectives. The structure and key features of the Chester Business Master’s (CBM) are explored in more detail in a longitudinal case study presented later in this chapter.
Managing Degree Apprenticeships through a Work-Based Learning Framework – Opportunities and ChallengesThe Higher Education Institute (HEI) employer interface has attracted much attention in recent years, particularly in light of current dissatisfaction with graduate work-readiness. Concurrently, pressure upon new entrants to the workplace is accelerating through an unprecedented pace of change in technology, requiring currency of employability skills and resilience for individuals to adapt, thrive and perform effectively in an increasingly unpredictable global environment. In 2014 a new form of apprenticeship was proposed in England to simultaneously address these skills shortages whilst offering a genuine alternative to undergraduate degree programmes. Hailed as “the greatest opportunity ever seen for anyone concerned with skills and employment” (Jeffrey 2016, p.1) early HEI adopters have already successfully collaborated with employers to launch business management degree apprenticeships with initial cohorts nearing completion of their first year. The chapter proposed here is therefore highly significant for two reasons. The first is to inform HEI practice and pedagogic development, particularly in terms of work-based learning degree apprenticeship design and delivery within the new political apprenticeship reforms, which are attracting renewed interest across the globe. This is one of the first evaluations to be published upon this type of programme, affording a unique opportunity to explore how pedagogic approaches to building graduate employability can be improved. Secondly it considers the effectiveness of the emerging generation of work-based business degree apprentices in terms of performance, retention and engagement as a result of well-developed employability skills. This degree apprenticeship challenges academically led, full time provision with a 20% off the job learning model. An explicit employer led focus cumulates in a separate synoptic end point assessment, altering the fundamentally traditional approach to embedding employability skills into something far more tacit in nature, through negotiated projects, reflective learning and employer mentoring. In order to examine the effectiveness of this new pedagogic approach, the chapter focuses upon the design and development of a business management degree apprenticeship. It explores current literature concerning work-based learning pedagogy and reflective practice, the role of the employer as a mentor and the development of employability skills. It incorporates an exploratory case study based upon one of the earliest cohorts in England, collectively identifying a complex range of themes and issues for each stakeholder in designing and developing degree apprenticeships. The chapter concludes with recommendations for HEIs who wish to take advantage of this new and fast changing political agenda through their own development of similar, highly innovative and lucrative initiatives.