Browsing Centre for Work Related Studies by Subjects
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Facilitating employer engagement through negotiated work based learning: A case study from the University of ChesterThis report discusses the development of a work based learning framework at the University of Chester and identifies its key features, particulary in relation to employer engagagement.
Higher Education Academy impact study report - University of ChesterThis study aims to examine aspects of the impact of work based learning on both employees and employers and forms part of a larger scale study undertaken by the HE Academy. Employees who had successfully completed work based learning programmes of study at undergraduate level (excluding Foundation Degrees) were interviewed as, where possible, was their line manager or employer representative. Several issues arose concerning access to employers for interviews, which in some cases extended to difficulties in gaining access to former learners from organisational cohorts. Evidence emerging from the study highlights the effectiveness of higher level negotiated work based learning programmes in developing employees in ways that extend beyond role-specific competence. In particular, benefits in the development of self-awareness; learning to think and question; and improved confidence and work performance were valued by employees and employers alike. Work based learning projects, involving the reflection on practical experience, were thought to have benefited both individuals and organisations. More than half of the employees interviewed have since changed jobs or gained promotion, and the majority are now engaged in further higher level programmes of study. Employer support is seen to be an important factor for most learners, but not for all. The role of the HE tutor, though, is seen by learners as central to their success. Credit accumulation and accreditation of prior learning and experience are significant stages in engaging learners and facilitating their progression. Most learners are highly self-motivating, but cohort learners on programmes designed through employers need to be supported by them in the course of their studies. In-house programmes linked to assessment for HE accreditation need to be well-integrated and learners clearly advised by the employer on the commitment and expectations.
‘Islands in the stream’ – causeways or compromise?In recent years, policy drivers have given a strategic push towards encouraging ‘employer-led’ work based learning in Higher Education. For example, Leitch ( 2006?) and other key policy makers advocate institutional change and reform in HE to respond to market needs; HEFCE encourages HEI’s “Towards a strategy for work based learning”; the QAA has reflected most recently on ‘employer-responsive provision’. This paper sets out to explore the impact of these strategic objectives and some issues which emerge from the rapprochement of stakeholders and providers. It is based on experience in an institution where challenges and tensions are being met and overcome. The case example is part of a Higher Level Skills Pathway (HLSP) Project whose lead partner is the North West Universities Association (NWUA) in North West England. Learning Pathway provision for Housing Practitioners (via a Professional Certificate in Leadership) has been developed in conjunction with employers using the WBIS (Work based and Integrative Studies) framework at the University of Chester. This flexible modular framework puts knowledge and experiential learning gained in the work context at the core of learning activity. This paper uses the example to characterise the power relationships and tensions. Reflecting on the case study, it seems that by attending to such policy drivers, much compromise is required from both parties in terms of curriculum design and the relationships being built between Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) and employers. The term ‘employer-led’ denotes an uneven power relationship and this may in the long run serve to undermine the hallmark of HE provision – quality and standards. In conclusion we suggest that the whole relationship needs to be predicated on co-produced provision in order to build sustainable relationships between employers and HEI’s. The term ‘co-production’ equalises the power relationship, encouraging the goal of dynamic interaction, mutual respect and benefits based on the expertise and knowledge of each party.