SKILLS FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES LIFELONG LEARNING NETWORK

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1 SKILLS FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES LIFELONG LEARNING NETWORK SSCLLN BEST PRACTICE GUIDES : GUIDE THREE Targeting Vocational Learners In Practice: Innovative marketing and information, advice and guidance techniques Focus: IAG Creating opportunities for vocational learners

2 Introduction to SSCLLN Best Practice Guides About the Guides Lifelong Learning Networks were established across England to develop and promote opportunities for people with vocational qualifications and/or experience to progress more easily into and through higher education. The networks are made up of partnerships of educational organisations such as universities and further education colleges who are working together to streamline access to higher education, and open up routes to graduate and post graduate levels. The Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network (SSCLLN), hosted by the University of Leicester, was established in The Network covers a sub-region of the East Midlands across Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland. The Network is funded until December 2010 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This best practice guide is part of a series of guides produced by the SSCLLN. These guides aim to share best practice used by partner colleges and universities to enable progression for vocational learners. Other guides in the series include: Delivering/developing the University Certificate in Professional Development Bishop Grosseteste Touring Company In Practice:Blueprint for Curriculum Development Developing vocational curriculum Constructionsite: Developing a shared resource Developing Progression Agreements Developing APEL: A unique approach If you would like any of these guides please contact us. SSCLLN BEST PRACTICE GUIDES: GUIDE THREE Targeting Vocational Learners In Practice: Innovative marketing and information, advice and guidance techniques Focus: IAG Introduction This guide explores the wide range of activity undertaken by the Network to develop the Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) services available to vocational learners in the East Midlands. These activities targeted: Learners aged Adult Learners Practitioners e.g. support staff, tutors, IAG Community Members Each project aimed to raise awareness amongst each of these groups of the benefits of progression and the range of opportunities available to potential and current vocational learners. This guide highlights some key activities undertaken including: Community events Collaboration with Sector Skills Councils Working within existing networks Research Taster events Online resources T: E: Website: page 03

3 Why? The Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network (SSCLLN) has worked with its partner colleges and universities in the East Midlands to develop a range of courses for vocational learners. These include foundation degrees, bridging courses and bite sized learning. In line with recommendations made by Leitch* this improvement in choice and variety of courses are designed with employer and employee need in mind. However research** has shown that the target learners for these courses may have a number of barriers that prevent them from considering higher education. These barriers include: Lack of awareness Time constraints Confidence issues To help overcome this potential learners need access to good quality, impartial information and advice on local learning opportunities *. The courses developed using LLN funding have helped address some of the perceived institutional barriers***. Issues such as inconvenient locations and timetables have been addressed by creating flexible and distance learning routes, the lack of relevant programmes has been dealt with by development of courses in line with demand. However dispositional barriers*** such as feeling too old to learn or lack of confidence also need to be addressed before the potential learner can begin to explore the educational opportunities available. Traditional marketing methods employed by partner institutions often include open days, paper and online prospectuses, course leaflets and advertising in web directories. Potential learners are then expected to make contact by phone, , via the website or attend an open day. However, what if the potential vocational learners do not respond to these traditional methods due to the situational and dispositional barriers they may have? To help overcome this issue the Network aimed to offer added value to the traditional methods used by partners through supporting and funding innovative marketing and IAG activities. The Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network aimed to: Raise awareness amongst potential vocational learners of higher level education opportunities available to them. Overcome barriers to learning through promotion and provision of appropriate IAG. Encourage Network partner colleges and universities to target potential vocational learners with non traditional methods. Work with Network partners to pilot innovative IAG/marketing activities targeting potential vocational learners in the SSCLLN region. Increase the number of enquiries received by partner colleges and universities for vocational courses. Increase the number of learners on vocational courses in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland. To achieve these aims the Network worked with a range of partners and stakeholder groups to pilot innovative targeting methods designed to provide information and advice on learning opportunities. These methods include research, events, staff training, online resources, one to one sessions and paper based resources. * Leitch Review of Skills Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills Final Report December 2006 ** National Adult Learning Survey 2005 *** Participation in Learning Projects and Programmes, Mark K Smith 1998, page 05

4 1. Taking Learning to the Community Partners: SSCLLN, De Montfort University, LeicestHERday Trust To help reach potential vocational learners in the community the Network worked with a local charity to pilot sector focused interactive IAG events in Leicester. The LeicestHERday Trust is an umbrella organisation formed to give an equal voice to all women and enhance the community at large by enhancing women s life experiences. The LeicestHERday Trust and Network partner De Montfort University have worked together since 2004 on a range of widening participation projects in the community. They have extensive experience working in deprived areas of Leicester. As a result, they have developed relationships with a range of community groups and built up a considerable network of contacts. The first event held in 2009 targeted a wide audience of aged +16 and hoped to attract people who had the ambition to achieve a career in one of the diverse creative industry sectors but do not necessarily have the qualifications or experience to progress in this field. The event aimed to not only engage with the audience on a creative level but to act as a platform to support and promote the many courses and entry levels into the sector. LeicestHERday worked with SSCLLN partner colleges and universities to plan and feature at the event and as a result, the event included a whole range of interactive stalls from graphic design and photography, to hair and beauty and art and crafts. Guest speakers and live practical demonstrations took place throughout the day to inspire people and allow them to try out different activities. On the day, 15 organisations exhibited and 62 potential learners attended. The feedback from both delegates and exhibitors both during and after the event has proved to be excellent. As a result of the event, 24 learners have now signed up to education courses. Following the success of this event the Network is working again with the Trust and partners to hold a similar event focusing on opportunities in Health and Social Care in Working with Employers in the Construction Industry Partners: SSCLLN, Construction Skills The Network worked with Construction Skills, the Sector Skills Council for construction, to help raise awareness and promote higher level learning to employers and employees in the industry. Construction Skills represent every part of the construction industry, from architects to bricklayers, across the UK. Construction Skills employ a number of Company Development Advisers (CDAs) who regularly engage with employers. The Network helped build capacity for these CDAs to focus their visits on progression to higher level learning. Company Development Advisers (CDAs) first identified relevant companies to target. This includes those who are known to have employed someone with a level three qualification, or is of that standard, those employers who already have a training plan but have not delivered at level four and those who are in a training group or are in a supply chain related to that training group. 67 face to face employer visits took place with target companies to identify their training needs and set up a delivery plan through the devising and regularly updating of a training plan. Following the initial visit, the CDAs returned to the relevant employer to assess progress, to assist in breaking down any barriers that arose and provide further information, advice and guidance as required. Construction Skills also organised and promoted three county events for employers, designed to raise awareness of higher level learning opportunities and the benefits of encouraging employees to progress. Topics covered included the range of flexible learning opportunities available for employees and provided excellent networking opportunities. page 07

5 3. Working with partners and existing networks to reach learners Partners: SSCLLN, Colleges - University of Leicester Network (CULN) The SSCLLN has where possible worked with existing networks and groups to achieve its goals. Work with the Colleges University of Leicester Network (CULN) is an example of this partnership approach. CULN, established in 2001, is made up of 18 Further Education (FE) Colleges and three Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the East and West Midlands and exists to optimise collaboration between further and higher education institutions for the benefit of staff and learners. CULN provides flexible mechanisms to enable institutions in the region to collaborate on a variety of matters, such as foundation degrees, student activities, progression and research. SSCLLN has always aligned its activities where possible with CULN to avoid duplication and to share best practice. Because of this close partnership, the SSCLLN and CULN have worked together recently on two IAG events for potential vocational learners. These events targeted potential learners in school and college with information on vocational progression routes. Focus on Fashion 137 students from four colleges in Leicestershire took part in this one-day event designed to provide an insight into careers and education within the fashion industry. The event was also supported by John Lewis, which ensured industry representation, combined with advice from higher education providers in the region. Evaluation showed that 70% of students felt they knew more about higher education and progression routes following the event. Health and Social Care This event aimed to raise awareness of, and provide an insight into careers and education opportunities in health and social care for students in Leicestershire. 300 students attended and were involved in a range of interactive workshops provided by Network partners. These included Podiatry, Play Assistants, Dentistry, Clinical Psychologists, Childcare, Biomechanics, Social Work and Complementary Therapy. 4. Action on research: Working with Unionlearn Partners: Unionlearn with the Midlands TUC, SSCLLN The Network worked with Unionlearn to research and identify any barriers preventing future progression to higher education for vocational learners. Unionlearn was established by the TUC to help unions to become learning organisations. Their activities include brokering learning opportunities for their members, running phone and online advice services, securing the best courses to meet learners needs and kite marking union academy provision to a quality standard. An essential part of unionlearn activity is undertaken by Union Learning Representatives (ULRs), this includes signposting a range of courses to members, arranging for college tutors to come to the workplace to deliver learning at a time to suit members needs, supporting members with literacy and numeracy needs or running a workplace learning centre. In 2008, the SSCLLN recognised the importance of establishing ULRs level of awareness of higher level learning opportunities, and commissioned unionlearn to research and identify any barriers preventing future progression to higher education for vocational learners. The research drew the following conclusions: There is significant demand for higher level learning at work but a lack of clear information, advice and guidance about learning options. Most potential learners see time and financial issues as barriers to prevent progression to higher level learning. ULRs are keen to promote higher learning and gain information and skills needed to do so. To address issues identified by the research, the following activity has taken place to increase union learners and ULRs awareness of higher level learning provision: A series of seminars were convened across the East Midlands to disseminate findings and develop partnerships to help overcome issues raised. A unionlearn programme of training has been developed to improve skills and knowledge of ULRs; this includes workshops and guidance materials. Union learners who have achieved level 3 qualifications have been targeted with further progression opportunities information. Your Future East Midlands, an online IAG tool, has developed a dedicated area for ULRs to help them advise potential learners. This includes a free telephone advice line. page 09

6 5. On the road with Grantham College Partners: SSCLLN, Grantham College Grantham College accessed support from SSCLLN to raise the profile of their Foundation Degree. Grantham College worked with the Network s Health and Social Care ABTG to re brand and further develop their Foundation Degree in Complimentary Approaches to Health and Social Care. The college recognised the need to raise awareness amongst potential learners of this course and approached the Network for further support. The Network supported Grantham College s unique approach to spreading the word on their new Foundation Degree in Complimentary Approaches to Health and Social Care via road shows. Grantham College aimed to: Raise awareness of the foundation degree with employers and employees within the Health and Social Care Sector in particular the emphasis on complementary approaches Provide information on progression opportunities for learners Increase the number of students on the degree The college organised a series of six taster events to be delivered in different areas of Lincolnshire. The college worked with local employers and the Carers Association to provide suitable venues for the sessions. The road shows were promoted through targeted mail shots to employers, advertising in the local press, the college website, employer forums and through staff attendance at networking events. The events included presentations on the course content, practical hands on sessions such as Indian Head and Remedial Massage, an opportunity to meet current students and discuss their experiences, and time to talk to lecturers about the course. Average attendance was 45 for each event. 6. Online IAG Resource: Your Future East Midlands Partners: EMDA, Aimhigher, SSCLLN and Leap Ahead SSCLLN has worked with a number of partners regionally to develop an online IAG resource. EMDA, Aimhigher, SSCLLN and Leap Ahead have jointly funded and developed an innovative online IAG resource for learners, practitioners and employers: Your Future East Midlands, an online course database which contains details of and links to all courses and post compulsory providers (FE and HE) in the region. With a searchable database of over 17,000 courses in the East Midlands, the website is a unique tool as it links courses together to create personalised progression routes for learners. The courses span all levels from entry level (basic skills and life skills) to level eight (post graduate courses/doctorates). This includes data from all 43 colleges and universities, private training providers, the area prospectuses and hot courses. The site creates progression maps based on a number of criteria including: Sector/subject area Where you want to study and What level you are currently at The maps created show three different types of learning routes, which can be interchanged, these include: Work based learning e.g. apprenticeships Vocational e.g. BTECs and General academic e.g. GCSE/A level routes Learners are able to view actual courses that they can study at each level, for each learning type. Moreover, at each level a learner can view possible careers they could go into with a qualification at that level and within their chosen subject area. The SSCLLN has also supported further development of the website s provision for potential adult learners. This includes work with regional experts in adult education to develop new functions and facilities, creation of specific case studies, targeted signposting information and promoting the site to potential adult learners. The Your Future East Midlands website was launched in October 2008 and since then has had over 130,000 page views. There have been over 22,000 visitors to the site with an average of six pages per visit. page 11

7 Key Messages and Recommendations The examples detailed on previous pages are just a snapshot of the range of activities the Network has supported. Other methods have included exhibiting at industry specific conferences, touring drama performances, using current students to target potential learners, displays in work cafeterias and presentations in lunch hours. The following is a list of the key messages and recommendations that have resulted from partner experiences of using these methods: Identify potential barriers for your learners and address them through your marketing and IAG provision. Show them what is on offer: Don t wait for potential learners to approach your college or university, go out and tell them about your courses. Don t rely on traditional methods e.g. open days, website and course prospectus, be innovative in your approach. Go to the workplace, the community, industry related events. Be creative in how you approach the learners, think about where they are on a regular basis and go to them. Always provide options for interaction and practical tasters of courses, this helps learners visualise what it might be like to undertake your course. Help learners realise studying is an option for them. Be clear on the benefits and the flexibility of your courses. Use case studies and successful students to help potential learners relate. If you would like to find out more about any of the activities highlighted in this guide, please contact us: SKILLS FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES LIFELONG LEARNING NETWORK T: E: Website: Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network University of Leicester 14 Salisbury Road Leicester LE1 7QR page 12

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