Involving employers in diplomas a guide

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1 Involving employers in diplomas a guide Introduction Literally hundreds of thousands of employers already get involved in primary, secondary and further education. Their contribution is voluntary, and is fitted in alongside other work commitments. At the national level, employers are partners in curriculum and qualification design. Locally, they provide work experience placements for young people and professional development opportunities for teachers and lecturers. They help with all aspects of the curriculum from numeracy and literacy through to enterprise education and engineering projects. They work directly with schools and colleges as governors, mentors, curriculum advisors, and so on. The concept of employer engagement is therefore well established. However, with the advent of the diplomas and other changes to the key stage 4 curriculum it is important to look again at the way schools and colleges work with employers, and vice versa. This guide offers initial ideas and suggests ways to plan effective employer engagement in diploma delivery. Why is this important? Education serves a very broad purpose, equipping young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and attributes which they will need as adults. From 2008, the revised key stage 3/4 curriculum will put more emphasis on general skills such as initiative, enterprise, and the capacity to learn independently. There is growing evidence of the importance of these skills in all walks of life. They are valued by employers and universities alike, and can be supported and developed by effective links with employers. Links with employers help young people begin to understand the nature of the world of work, the diversity and functions of business, and industry s contribution to national prosperity. Work-related learning also motivates young people by helping them see the relevance of what they learn at school or college to the wider world and their future lives. It expands pupils' horizons by challenging their preconceptions and helps them make well-informed choices about future learning and careers. If this is true in general, it is central to the development and delivery of diplomas. At the national level, employers have been at the heart of Diploma Development Partnerships, led by Sector Skills Councils. This means they have been involved in every aspect of the design and content of diplomas, ensuring that learning relates effectively to current industry practice. Locally, employers are already involved in consortia and have a significant 1

2 influence on Gateway proposals. Most importantly, they will play a vital part in the delivery of diplomas in schools and colleges throughout the country. The story so far how employers work support the education and training of young people aged Young people aged 14 upwards have a statutory entitlement to work-related learning, including enterprise education. The most obvious example of workrelated learning is a work experience placement, typically lasting a week or a fortnight. This offers a taste of the world of work and its culture, and offers a number of important benefits. For example, a well planned placement can help learners to put classroom learning into context. It can also help them appreciate the attitudes and attributes which employers look for, such as teamwork and problem solving. Spending time with an employer can also update and extend teachers and lecturers knowledge and understanding of industry. Professional development placements could be as short as a single day, could link to curriculum projects, or could extend to a longer secondment. Work experience and professional development placements are, of course, only part of an extraordinarily varied range of opportunities to connect education with the world of work. For example, employers get involved in visits by students to their premises as part of a work-related project visits to schools and colleges to explain or illustrate aspects of learning within the classroom providing master-classes for students, teachers or lecturers supporting assessment of outcomes and providing feedback to learners business games enterprise education competitions industry weeks simulated interviews role-play exercises tasks involving finding information and solving problems designing and supplying curriculum support materials in a variety of formats (print, CD, DVD, web etc). There are further notes about employer involvement in education at annex A. Employers get involved for a variety of reasons. Many remember their own time at school or college and value the support they had from employers. Many are parents themselves and appreciate that they can help schools and colleges in a variety of ways. Employers who get involved in education understand that access to the realities of work and working life adds value and variety to young people s education. They also see the importance of helping students improve their 2

3 knowledge of career opportunities, and of helping to develop the skills, qualities and attitudes which they look for when recruiting new staff. How are employer links with education organised at present? There is no single right or wrong way to manage relationships with employers. Some schools (and most colleges) manage their links with employers directly, without support from outside bodies. Others work with local employer business partnerships, national providers, or a combination of both. The Department for Education and Skills provides the Learning and Skills Council with an annual budget of 25 million, which is mainly channelled through local education business partnerships to support work experience, professional development placements and other local links between education and employers. The DfES also provides funds to support enterprise education. However they are organised, successful working relationships between education and employers depend on a number of features: 1. Mutual understanding: employers need to know what the school or college aims to achieve from working together, and schools and colleges need to understand the pressures and priorities which employers face. 2. Good planning and preparation: employer involvement works best when it is planned in advance and is fully integrated into an overall learning plan. Students need to know what to expect (and what not to expect) from their contact with employers. 3. Setting clear and achievable outcomes: it helps students, teachers and employers alike if clear learning goals are set, monitored and evaluated. This includes discussing the experience afterwards, so that students and employers can feed back on what worked well, and what could be improved in the future. What are the aims of involving employers in delivering diplomas? Employer engagement in diplomas will: improve learners knowledge and understanding of the curriculum content of each diploma help provide a context for study within each diploma line enhance skills and attributes such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills enhance the quality of diploma provision by providing support based on a variety of activities increase the relevance of the curriculum to careers, further and higher education, and training opportunities in industry reflect the views and needs of industry as a whole. 3

4 Employer engagement in diplomas: preparing the way Successful Gateway partnerships have already pooled information about existing arrangements for involving employers in education. Each school and college in the partnership will have an existing track record. Many partnerships include bodies such as local Education Business Partnerships. Between them, Gateway partners will be able to draw on existing links with many large and small employers in the private, public and voluntary and community sectors. They may also have well-established links with national or regional education business link organisations such as SETNET, Young Enterprise and Business in the Community. The following list provides a starting point for reviewing existing arrangements, identifying gaps and planning for strong and effective employer engagement in diplomas. The aim should be to develop an Employer Engagement Plan which brings together information about what already exists, identifies any gaps, and describes any new arrangements that need to be put in place. This might include, for example, staffing requirements; management, partnership and organisational arrangements; CPD needs; a plan for communicating with employers; and a strategy for engaging more employers over time. Question 1: What are our aims for involving employers in diplomas? Are all Gateway partners clear about the reasons for involving employers in diplomas? Have we set out a clear statement of our aims? How will we monitor and measure success? Question 2: What already exists? Does each school and college manage employer links separately, or are there shared arrangements in place (eg via the local Education Business Partnership)? How many employers already work with us to deliver the existing curriculum (eg work experience, professional development placements, enterprise education, etc)? Are there any gaps in coverage, either geographically or in particular sectors of industry? How are issues such as health and safety and child protection managed at present (eg in relation to work experience placements)? What specific programmes (eg competitions for young engineers and scientists, enterprise programmes and so on) are already running successfully in partner schools and colleges, with the involvement of 4

5 employers? How well do they support our plans for the diplomas? Do we already use materials (in print, web-based, video, etc) provided by major employers or organisations such as Sector Skills Councils and trade associations? Can we use them to support diplomas? Question 3: Are there any gaps in provision? If we need to involve more employers (either generally, or from specific sectors of industry), what is the best way to reach them and encourage them to get involved? Do we need to alter or improve arrangements for managing or coordinating our links with employers? Do we need to review or update arrangements for health, safety and child protection? Are there any national or regional programmes (competitions etc) which we could use to add depth and variety to the diploma? Are there any additional materials available from employers or representative bodies which we could use to support diplomas? Note: information about materials provided by Diploma Development Partnerships is at annex B. How can local employers support teachers and lecturers professional development needs as they prepare for diplomas? Question 4: How will we communicate with employers so that they have a good understanding of diplomas and how they can help? What information will employers need from us about diplomas? Bearing in mind the briefing materials which DfES will provide, what is the best way for us to brief local employers? How will we co-ordinate communications with employers so that we avoid overloading them with too many messages sent at different times and through different channels? How will we brief employers before they get involved (eg about learning aims, links to other parts of the curriculum etc)? How will we provide employers with feedback on the support they provide? Question 5: What do we need to know from (or about) employers? How will we collect and use information about the local economy to support diplomas? What arrangements will we make so that employers can tell us about their priorities and issues? 5

6 Will we have to adapt our delivery plans or the school/college timetable to take account of employers needs and priorities? (For example, some employers may find it difficult to help at particular times of the year.) How can employers give us feedback about their experience of working with us? 6

7 Annex A: further notes on employer involvement in education The following activities are used extensively throughout the education system as part of employer engagement and work-related learning strategies. They can be accessed directly from employers or through education-business link organisations. Locally-based Education Business Partnerships help schools and colleges to access the services they need to meet their particular priorities, provide a valued service to employers, and manage important considerations such as health and safety checks and child protection measures. Work Experience and Industrial Placements Work experience placements, including work shadowing, provide opportunities for young people to obtain a taste of the world of work and its culture for varying periods of time typically, a week or a fortnight, though some students go to an employer for (say) a day a week for several weeks. The transition from education to work is an extremely important one for most students, which is why the overwhelming majority positively value their first work experience. Others find it useful as a way of exploring a potential career pathway. A well planned, organised and managed work experience placement can be a powerful means of applying knowledge and extending understanding and skills outside the classroom. Similarly, many teachers and lecturers benefit by spending a period of time on an industrial placement. This could be a single day for example, work shadowing someone in the workplace to gain a better understanding of their role and responsibilities. It could also be linked to a specific project or task, enabling the teacher to experience a business-related working environment. Placements can also help teachers and lecturers up-date their knowledge and understanding of industrial sectors. Many teachers find them personally challenging, interesting, motivating and enjoyable. In some cases, secondments provide a longer-term professional development experience of industry for teachers. Industry Insights To a large extent, work experience and industrial placements can be viewed as industry insights for obvious reasons. However, many other activities can be grouped separately under this category. For example visits by students to their premises as part of a work-related project visits to schools and colleges to explain or illustrate aspects of learning within the classroom providing master-classes for students, teachers or lecturers supporting assessment of outcomes and providing feedback to learners business games enterprise education 7

8 competitions industry weeks simulated interviews role-play exercises tasks involving finding information and solving problems. Mentoring, Coaching and Consultancy In view of their experience and expertise, employers or members of their work-force are able to mentor and coach head teachers, principals, senior managers, teachers and lecturers on a range of work-related matters. They provide support on project management as well as other business management techniques that are useful in schools and colleges. Business people sometimes provide consultancy support, identifying particular needs and offering tailored solutions to address them. Employers may also provide mentoring and coaching support for learners, who welcome and appreciate such support. For example, the national and regional business ambassador scheme provides opportunities for young business people and learners to work together as partners on a specific project. Projects, Programmes and Challenges Several major employers and education business link organisations provide opportunities for young people to engage in a variety of community, classroom or business-related projects, as well as competitions and challenges. Some of these activities support the aims of work-related learning generally, including the outcomes associated with enterprise education, economic and business understanding, and financial capability. Many are directly relevant to the curriculum content of diplomas. Learning Resources and Environments A huge range of resources is made available by many employers and representative bodies such as Sector Skills Councils and trade associations to support learning. These include learning packs and materials for students and teachers, CDs, DVDs, games, simulations, on-line interactive activities, computer models, case studies, and specialist equipment. Employers also provide work-related learning environments through access to their facilities and venues. Virtual learning environments (eg in further education colleges) can provide a good proxy for the real thing. Information, Advice and Guidance 8

9 Employers and employer organisations provide an array of information about careers in particular industrial sectors. This can take several forms, from paper-based information to DVDs, CDs, web sites, talks and face-to-face interviews. Information generally includes insights into the skills needed in particular sectors and the qualifications associated with them. A number of agencies, including Regional Development Agencies, local authorities and Learning and Skills Councils monitor information about the economy in their area. This can provide valuable insights into employment trends and opportunities in the locality. Continuing Professional Development As indicated above, industrial placements provide useful CPD for teachers. CPD is also available for employers to up-date their knowledge and understanding of the education system in general and Diplomas in particular. CPD is offered by a number of organisations, including individual education institutions and employers, as well as government agencies such as the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA). The DfES, Government Offices in the regions, local authorities and other organisations organise conferences, seminars and workshops on a range of employer engagement activities. They are sometimes focused on disseminating good practice. 9

10 Annex B: Support from Diploma Development Partnerships Similar to the above, DDPs plan to offer a menu of support for the successful implementation of diplomas. The following list provides examples of what is available currently or planned in time for the introduction of the first five lines. Construction In partnership with the construction industry training board (CITB), the construction DDP is developing a range of support for consortia. These include existing forms of support as well as new ones. For example, the CITB s Curriculum Centres programme is currently used to encourage local colleges to work alongside schools to promote links between the curriculum and construction industry. Awards gold, silver and bronze will be given for good practice. Several field staff will be involved as part of a network of businesses, based on a regional management structure. The CITB plans to build on these centres as part of the Diploma developments. It also plans to develop: Industry site visits An Ambassador Scheme Materials - linked to qualifications/curriculum generally Engineering In collaboration with its training partners, the engineering DDP is supporting the development of a comprehensive work experience programme based on the Tomorrow s Engineers model. Selection onto the programme depends on a successful application and interview by students. It involves visits by students to a range of engineering companies to see how different sectors of the industry operate. They are then placed in one of these companies for two week s work experience, focusing on a structured project to be completed by students. Typically, such projects involve designing, building and making a product, which is continually inspected throughout each stage of the process. During this project students develop their design, problem-solving, and fabrication skills. They present their project outcomes at the end of the process. Students are mentored by an experienced engineer who introduces them to the full range of skills they need to pursue a career in engineering. The mentoring process seeks to improve students confidence when presenting ideas to an audience and increasing their analytical skills through monitoring, evaluating and reviewing their work, and while so doing benchmarking outcomes against agreed targets. Skills for Health IT The Industry insights programme will form a key part of the CPD support package for practitioners being developed by e-skills, the Sector Skills Council for IT. It is currently being piloted with awarding bodies and involves half a day with employers to see how technology is moving forward, developing understanding of the roles in the IT sector, updating skills, and acquiring insights into modern, innovative approaches within the industry. In addition, further support is being considered 10

11 including the production of virtual learning environments, CPD, and DVD-based resources to convey a national perspective on IT developments. Creative and Media 11

12 Annex C: some sources of further information and support Many organisations can provide help and support to schools and colleges wishing to enhance their links with employers. The following list includes some examples, but does not pretend to be a comprehensive guide. Employers and Employer Organisations The following organisations can provide useful information about the phase 1 Diploma lines: o Creative and Media. Contact: o Construction. Contact: o Engineering. Contact: o Skills for Health. Contact: o IT. Contact: Government Departments and Agencies o DfES responsible for policy development and co-ordination of support. Contact: and learning/14-19 o QCA responsible for regulating the national curriculum and qualifications, and disseminating good practice. Contact: o QIA responsible for training and support for skills strategy. Contact: o LSC responsible for allocation of funds to support educationbusiness links. Contact: Higher Education o Warwick University s Centre for Education and Industry (CEI) is a leading research centre for education-business links and WRL. It also offers a range of support to schools and colleges, including resources for enterprise and WRL. Contact: o Durham University Business School o Manchester Metropolitan University Enterprise in Education project seeks to implant enterprise into the curriculum of schools. Contact: Education-Business Partnerships (EBPs) o EBPs are locally-based organisations, most of whom belong to the National Education-Business Partnership Network. Contact: 12

13 Education-Business Link Organisations (EBLOs) o The Trident Trust provides work experience placements for students. It also offers a range of programmes, including an employability programme for students and an associated training package for their teachers. Contact: o The Industrial Trust provides structured visits to employers premises in order to bring to life to classroom learning. Contact: o Young Enterprise provides a range of programmes involving participation and involvement of employers in support of enterprise education, including, setting up companies, the use of games and hands-on activities Contact: o businessdynamics provides a range of industry insight programmes, including enterprise. Volunteers from companies introduce students to the opportunities and challenges of business, involving skills improvement and preparation for work. Contact: o SETNET brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities and experiences into classrooms throughout the UK. Contact - Federation of Education Business Link Consortia (FEBL) o The FEBL supports the planning and co-ordination of educationbusiness link activities among EBLOs. Contact: Education Charities o SSAT responsible for delivering the Government's Specialist Schools and Academies programme. Contact - o Careers Research and Advisory Council (CRAC) aims to support people to make career decisions with up-to-date information. It also seeks to help employers understand education and skills polices. As well as supporting relevant networks, they provide training and consultancy support. Contact: 13

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