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ViewPoint: Understand Cognitive Science to Work Better by Art Markman
July 9, 2019
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Neuroscience can help people better understand themselves and colleagues, according to academic and author Art Markman

“The fundamental problem with work today is that we start by assuming that everyone else is going to do things in exactly the same way that we would do them. We think ‘how can this person possibly be productive if they are not working in the same way as me?’,” the professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin said.

Speaking at the launch of his book Bring Your Brain To Work: Using Cognitive Science to Get a Job, Do it Well, and Advance Your Career, Markman explained how by having an understanding of psychology individuals can improve their careers and work more effectively with others.

“Science tells us that there are some issues at work that have to be fixed, but if we can understand the underlying psychological issues behind them we’ll be more able to help, and understand how we can use people effectively and help them reach their goals,” he said.

Markman’s book explores how an understanding of neuroscience can help people get more out of work and better understand their motivations.

When people take a traditional approach to their careers they can often end up ignoring some of the complexities of working life, Markman said: “By looking at psychology in the workplace it allows us to manage our own jobs in a more effective way. It can help us think about how there isn’t always a seamless path from getting one job to moving to the next. It helps us to work a little better with people, because we understand why they work in certain ways and that they are different from us.”

One of the main reasons people feel stuck at work is that they feel unable to make mistakes, he explained. Learning how to improvise and move on from failures is key, he said: “The people who have the best ideas are the people who have the most ideas. A lot of them might be bad, but you have to be willing to throw a bunch of stuff out there – even if a lot of it is bad – before you can get to the good stuff. This has emerged from my experience of learning to play the saxophone.

“I would pick it up, play a wrong note, and would get annoyed at myself and stop. My teacher would say ‘why did you stop? That note has gone, why are you getting worried about it? You did something, it was wrong, but stop worrying about it and try something else’.

“The ability to have an idea, figure out it’s a bad idea, and then have another idea is an incredibly powerful way to learn how to improvise.”

Employers can play an important role in allowing people to grow and continue learning, Markman added: “Success in your job should be about your ability to do that job rather than being able to know everything from day one. It should be organisations’ jobs to help you do that.”

ViewPoint: Four Things We Can do to Make Sure that T-levels Are Not Another Wasted Opportunity
July 2, 2019
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Youngsters today are likely to have a 50-year career. T-levels can play a major role in equipping them, if we keep certain strategies in mind, says Stephen Evans

As we wait to find out who will succeed Theresa May, and whether this leads to a changed ministerial team in the Department for Education, one thing that is unlikely to change is the focus on T-levels as a key way to improve skills. How do we make sure they help people in their career aspirations and deliver the skills needs of employers?

The latest report from our Youth Commission, which we set up to consider how to improve education and employment outcomes for young people, shows that young people are likely to have 50-year careers. This means they are likely to change roles a number of times. 

Even if they stay in the same occupation, the skills needed in that occupation are likely to change dramatically. Our report, Tomorrow’s World: Future of the Labour Market, considers how the labour market is likely to change during young people’s working lives, and suggests a number of issues we need to consider in order to make T-levels fit for the future.

Firstly, T-levels need to be both specific, and broad: specific enough to deliver the skills to equip students for their chosen occupational role now, and sufficiently broad in content to focus on how young people can adapt to change and build core employability skills in the future. 

Secondly, T-levels need to be part of a pathway; it’s no good having the best T-levels in the world if there is insufficient progression into them from below level 3, and also pathways from T-levels into more advanced learning.

And we additionally need support for young people who may have done A-levels or other vocational qualifications, but now want to take a different path. We also need to consider how T-levels could or should apply to adults, wanting to update their skills or change careers. 

Likewise, place matters too: what about young people living in an area with too few employers to offer an industry placement? We need to find solutions to ensure T-levels deliver across the country. 

Third, the qualification needs to be recognised by employers. The government is currently grappling with whether to stop funding other vocational qualifications, such as BTECs, or wait until T-levels are the most popular choice before turning off funding for other qualifications. 

Leaving aside that there are some areas that T-levels won’t cover, you don’t make one qualification more credible by stopping the funding of the ones that are in place already. The new qualification on the block will be valued by employers once they are convinced that they have equipped young recruits with the skills they need: given the gradual roll-out of T-levels, this will take time.

The fourth point to consider is the help offered to employers. Our research shows that they want to deliver the industry placement element of T-levels, but they are confused by the array of demands from various government departments. 

Are T-level industry placements a bigger priority than apprenticeships, work placements, work experience etc? If everything’s a priority, then in practice, nothing is.

Finally, we need an overall vision for lifelong learning that sets T-levels in context. The previous decade probably saw too many skills strategies, and it has often felt like a “once in a generation” chance to make things right every few years. But now we have gone to the other extreme of having no strategy. 

Strategies are not the answer to everything but, combined with local leadership, they can support a partnership approach with employers that allows prioritisation and coordination. As our report notes, we don’t know what all future skills requirements will be, but we do know the core basis and the need to build in flexibility.

T-levels are not a silver bullet and we shouldn’t oversell them; there is also a risk that they could follow previous efforts, such as Diplomas, into the lessons of history. But if we work together, set T-levels into the wider context, and work strategically with employers, there is a real opportunity, this time, for things to be different.

ViewPoint by Anne Milton: Developing Skills For The #FutureofWork
June 10, 2019
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Developing skills for the jobs of the future: Helping people develop the skills, and grow the qualification portfolio, so they’re ready for jobs that don’t exist yet.

You can look at that in two ways:

Young People: First of all it’s the people who are young now, so people who are coming up to 16. We need to make sure we’ve got the right courses and qualifications that they need.

Adult Learners: Then of course there’s also adults, who maybe need to up-skill or change their skillset.

T Levels for Young People

For younger people we have got T levels, which are coming in in 2020. The first three T levels will be in: Read more

ViewPoint: What Ofsted’s New Inspection Framework Means for FE by Billy Camden
May 14, 2019
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Ofsted has today published its new and final education inspection framework that will come into effect from September.

It follows a three-month public consultation, which prompted more than 15,000 responses – the highest number the education watchdog has ever received. Read more

ViewPoint: Anne Milton – ‘We are Bringing About a Breakthrough in Careers’
April 29, 2019
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Sixteen months on from the launch of the careers strategy there is a real buzz of excitement about careers, insists the skills minister when talking to TES

When I first became minister of state for skills and apprenticeships, I heard all too often that careers education and guidance was not reaching all those young people most in need of it.

Despite the good intentions and hard work of many, careers provision was patchy and too reliant on a chance encounter or a well-connected parent.

But what if you are from a family without these connections? What if you are from a disadvantaged community and do not have access to a wide range of opportunities?

That is why I was delighted to publish the careers strategy in 2017, which sets out our ambitions for a world-class careers system. Our aim is to create a thriving careers system. One that helps people to make the most of their skills and talents.

Read more

ViewPoint: The Apprenticeship Levy – If Rationing is to be Introduced, Let’s Get it Right
April 5, 2019
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There has been recent scrutiny about the forecasted overspend of the levy. UVAC has been predicting this for some time and now the Institute (IfATE) and the National Audit Office have confirmed this is an issue writes Mandy Crawford-Lee, Director of Policy and Operations, University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC).

We are now in a situation where ‘proposals’ for a way forward are being put forward, so here is a view from the perspective of an organisation that wants the levy to be used to raise productivity, enhance social mobility and support the delivery of high-quality public services.

Bizarre Proposals: We’ve had some fairly curious proposals on how to manage such an overspend.

AELP has called for an end to using the levy to fund level 6 and 7 and degree apprenticeships.

So as UVAC has said on many occasions, it is the case that AELP wants to stop police forces using their levy payments to fund the police constable degree apprenticeship to train new police officers and prevent the NHS from training new nurses through a degree apprenticeship. Read more

ViewPoint: How Should Providers Interpret the ‘new’ ESFA Guidance on Prior Learning?
March 20, 2019
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It is an add-on rather than an update – and could be an attempt to claw back funding or scare providers into discount pricing, says Simon Ashworth, Chief policy officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Earlier this week the ESFA published guidance on the recognition of prior learning. It’s important to note this is additional guidance, rather than specifically new or updated funding rules. With apprenticeship funding now finally acknowledged as running in short supply, there may be more emphasis on how providers account for prior learning in order to claw back funding or scare providers into discount pricing.

Ten years ago the sector experienced a crackdown on providers claiming additional learning support. A few providers were made an example of and others quickly scaled back their financial claims but continued to offer the additional support while not getting paid for it. Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat of the latter.

The previous iterations of the funding rules were much more specific about tackling “embedded qualifications” with fixed rates of funding reductions that governed the apprenticeship frameworks, which were all built around qualifications. Read more

ViewPoint: Top Tips for Recruiting the Best Apprentices
March 14, 2019
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With the end of the academic year approaching, recruitment for apprenticeships is likely to be the focus of many L&D managers. FrancesFrances Nicholson NicholsonHead Of Operations at National Skills Academy for Health,  shares her views on “how to get the cream of the crop”.

Be modern, social and mobile friendly
The young people of today have grown up in the digital age and are incredibly tech savvy so you need to engage with them through online platforms. You can reach out to the post-millennial generation through social media rather than simply relying on the Find an Apprenticeship website.

Use your recruitment strategy to try to engage people who might not have even considered apprenticeships yet. Link your social media posts to your careers site so prospective candidates can find out more about the culture of your organisation. Read more

ViewPoint: Markets Aren’t the Panacea for Public Services
March 6, 2019
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The failure of the provider should prompt us to reflect seriously on the role of the marketplace in learning and skills, says Stephen Evans, Chief executive, Learning and Work Institute 

Working Links’ fall into administration is bad news for the people they support and their employees. Its case is different to that of learndirect and other providers. But together, they should give pause for thought about the nature of markets in learning and skills and their limits.

Firstly, commissioners need to be realistic. A large part of Working Links’ problems came from its struggling probation contracts. Its management and staff bear responsibility for bad practice, such as assessing probation users as lower risk to avoid putting sufficient resources into helping them. But the government should have heeded the warnings at the time of procurement that you couldn’t cut huge amounts of money out of the system without affecting the service. Added to a focus on price, rather than value, this leads to a vicious circle where providers either put in unrealistic bids or face going out of business. Read more

ViewPoint: ‘It is Time We Start Listening to Teenagers on Careers’
February 28, 2019
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Educators, employers, parents and the government must take note of teenagers’ views, writes Bev Jones, joint chief executive of the Career Colleges Trust.

New research published on 26th February 2019 suggests that nearly a third of teenagers in Britain are worried about “where their education is heading” and feel that the next few years may be a “waste of time” for them.

This is disappointing, particularly at a time when many industries are growing rapidly and new and exciting career opportunities are on offer for young people locally, nationally and internationally.

There is often talk about the skills gaps and the fact that young people are not prepared for the world of work – but is it any surprise when teens themselves feel that their education is focused primarily on league tables and academic grades? Read more