Good practice in involving employers in work-related education and training

This survey, by Ofsted, set out to determine the benefits of employers’ involvement in government-funded work-related education and training, and to identify the features of good practice and the ways in which provision could be further improved.

Between September 2009 and April 2010, inspectors visited 30 providers of work-related education and training that had been judged to be good or outstanding at their previous inspection and with key strengths in involving employers in planning, delivering or reviewing provision. Inspectors found benefits for employers, learners and providers in the provisions visited.

Key Findings

  • Good employer involvement had benefits for employers, providers and learners. The quality of provision improved and employees gained the skills valued by their employers. Learners made better progress towards their qualifications and were better prepared for employment.
  • Almost all of the involvement of employers seen during the survey was at the instigation of providers. Employers rarely took the initiative to make or maintain contact with providers or to influence provision.
  • None of the working relationships seen in this survey had been initiated by external organisations such as the brokerage service.
  • The involvement of employers was most successful when the provider's commitment to working with employers was clear, communicated effectively to all staff in the organisation, and was well understood and supported by managers.
  • In the best examples of employer involvement seen in the survey, strong partnerships were formed between employer and provider, in which each recognised and valued the other's contribution to developing provision to meet employers' and learners' needs.
  • Size or lack of resources often made it difficult for the smaller provider and employer partnerships visited to influence the strategic planning and development of provision locally or nationally.
  • Regular meetings with employers and frequent visits to their premises to identify their needs and discuss training were a strong feature of good practice. These visits were particularly effective when they were well documented and coordinated by the provider.
  • Working with employers to develop resources and training materials was a highly effective mechanism of involving employers in developing the provision and in ensuring that it met employers' and learners' needs.
  • In the best examples, providers trained employers' staff as mentors and coaches to improve links between on- and off-the-job training and the quality of provision for learners.
  • The providers visited gave employers good information on work-related education and training and reduced barriers to their participation in education and training. They made clear the respective roles and expectations of providers and employers and successfully managed potential tensions between employers' needs and the requirements of national qualifications.
  • The providers' staff surveyed improved their knowledge of their industry sectors and the demands of particular employment fields as a result of their engagement with employers. However, this development was not always part of a planned training programme, and good practice in involving employers in one area of learning was often not shared effectively across an organisation.
  • The nature of employers' involvement depended on the type of provision and, often, on the sector. Some provision, such as work-based learning, lent itself more readily to involving employers. When work experience or work placements were built into a sector's vocational training and qualifications, they also helped to improve the involvement of employers.
  • On full- and part-time work-related courses delivered at providers' premises, the better providers made suitable use of presentations by employers but insufficient use of real work case studies for learners' development and assessment. Local employers were not always sufficiently involved in designing these courses.
  • Many of the providers visited did not use employers sufficiently in initially assessing learners or in their progress reviews. Providers also did not make sufficient use of their links with employers to evaluate their courses as part of their quality improvement programmes.

To read the full report, visit the Ofsted website


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