• Educating for the modern world: a report review

      Rowe, Lisa; University of Chester
      Purpose This review explores the Confederation of British Industry Education and Skills Annual Report (2018), which considers the issues and challenges facing employers in managing future workforce requirements against a backdrop of unprecedented global change. The review examines the evolvement towards the broader competencies of problem solving, resilience, communication and leadership to address concerns of a growing talent shortage. The review incorporates debate surrounding the relevance of student-owned identity, work-based learning, degree apprenticeships, lifelong learning and reflective practice. The purpose of this paper is to share a practitioner’s view of the report and provide a range of recommendations to develop and improve employer and higher education institutions practice. Design/methodology/approach This review combines desk research combining an industry-based perspective with a literature review to effectively consider the implications upon current and emerging higher education institutions and employer practice. Findings There were a number of key themes which emerged from the report. These include the need for effective, employer-led curriculum design, resilience building strategies, effectively situated workplace learning, the creation of time and space for reflective practice and normalising lifelong learning. Research limitations/implications As global change and technology continues to gather pace, skills demands will shift, new programmes and competitors will enter the higher education market and opportunities, funding and resourcing will rapidly change in the context of government policy, impacting upon employer appetite and strategies for supporting lifelong learning. This means that additional findings, beyond those highlighted within this review may emerge in the near future. Practical implications There are a number of practical implications in supporting skills development in the workplace from this research. These are reflected in the recommendations and include the development of flexible, innovative and collaborative curricula and effective work-based pedagogies. Social implications This review is of particular social relevance at this time because of the alarming fall in part-time and lifelong learning numbers juxtaposed with the threat of funding cuts and United Kingdom Government’s failed initiative to expand the number of apprenticeships in the workplace to 3m new starts by 2020. Originality/value This review is based upon one of the first published skills reports of the employers’ perspective within the new apprenticeship policy context in the United Kingdom. As a result, the work offers a unique insight into the emerging challenges and issues encountered by higher education institutions and employers working collaboratively in the twenty-first century business environment.
    • Effective Management of the Tripartite Relationship of Educational Providers, Participants and Employers in Work Based Learning

      Rowe, Lisa; Moss, Danny; Moore, Neil; University of Chester
      An 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 Challenges

      Rowe, Lisa; University of Chester
      The 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.