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Learners and institutions: workforce development

The fourth and final seminar in our innovations series takes two perspectives on workforce development: that of the learner and that of the institution.



We will be focussing on technology developments in this seminar, however, it must be noted that the field is complex and currently a climate of political uncertainty is pervasive. On the one hand, never has there been a greater need for innovative approaches to personal, professional and institutional development, and yet in recent years never has there been such uncertainty as to the direction this might take.

From the institutional perspective, for all but a very few specialist institutions, the majority of their business is still directed at 3-year full-time undergraduates. Although demographic and economic changes are reshaping this part of the business it still forms between 50% and 80% of the activity of most HEIs. Lifelong Learning, Workforce Development and Employer Engagement is principally concerned with that other 20% to 50% of the HEI’s business. Therefore we are arguing that in order to have the greatest impact, there should be a focus on the biggest part of that other 20%-50%. This, we suggest principally (but not exclusively) means:

  • university accredited learning programmes (courses/modules)
  • aimed at adults in work
  • who are without university qualifications
  • where the location of learning is primarily the workplace, and
  • the learning activities are primarily the tasks of work done in the course of work.

Even within this broad area, boundaries and definitions slide according to:

  • field (law, business, medicine, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, etc)
  • stage (pre-work, in-work, returning-to-work, CPD, etc)
  • and focus (learner, employer, provider).

Two key issues emerge from these considerations, both having to do with assessment and accreditation, and ultimately for quality assurance:

  • Do employers have a role in the assessment of candidates for university qualifications? If so what should this be?
  • Do learners need to transform the output products of their work-place activity to match the expectations of higher education assessment requirements? Or, do universities need to adapt their objective criteria to accommodate workplace output products?

Link to Cycle 3 Thematic Synthesis:

Link to Key Issues Investigation: http://inin.jisc-ssbr.net/2011/03/15/institutional-innovation-key-issues-investigation/

Contact Paul Bailey (paul@jisc-ssbr.net) for further information, or problems with registration. For technical support in accessing Elluminate please contact Joe Rosa (joe@jisc-ssbr.net)

We look forward to seeing you at the online seminar!

Best wishes
George Roberts
JISC Institutional Innovation Support Project

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