Avatar
Hello
Guest
Log In or Sign Up
ViewPoint: Why Careers Education Needs International Inspiration
January 15, 2020
0

By Ruth Gilbert, group education director at Manor Property Group and an honorary fellow at UCL Institute of Education.

When creating something new for the UK, it makes sense to take a look at the wider world to get a better understanding of what’s already out there and what’s working internationally.

This approach of considering best practice is not rocket science by any means and, in fact, it potentially saves a huge amount of effort. Why start from scratch to come up with new ideas when there are tried-and-tested techniques/products that would potentially work (albeit with some adaptations) for your particular market and audience?

Careers education

Careers education is clearly something that we haven’t got quite right in this country. A number of reasons can be cited for this – not enough funding, accountability, lack of prominence in the national curriculum…the list goes on. But the fact remains that high-quality careers education is crucial if young people are to be given the best possible chance to successfully progress from school/college/university into great jobs.

We have seen some investment in careers education projects for primary schools and funding for virtual career hubs to coordinate training and support employer brokering services. But, culturally, the emphasis in the UK has been on public sector leadership of employer engagement.

Many countries around the world have taken a very different approach to careers education, with encouraging results. So, perhaps it is time to look further afield and take inspiration from the international community. 

Take Finland – a European country with comparable economic drivers and social context to the UK. Much greater resource is dedicated to careers education there, and the subject is a compulsory element of the curriculum. It comprises around 76 hours of scheduled “careers ed” activities in the students’ timetables during the equivalent of Years 7-9. In addition, there is an entitlement for individual and group guidance together with compulsory work experience periods. And for younger children in Finland (grades 1-6), careers guidance is embedded within the classroom.

Expert guidance

Crucially, students are also entitled to expert careers guidance at school one year after completing upper secondary level if they have not been enrolled in further education. For those young people starting vocational education and training programmes (VET) there is one compulsory ECVET module on the development of lifelong career management skills. Each student is entitled to a customised learning plan – supporting them to consider their post-education plans.

Finland and its neighbour Norway are also leading the way with physical careers guidance centres (Ohjaamo centres) – which are also found in Australia. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international conference in June referenced this work, highlighting the benefit of these centres to promote active citizenship, inclusion and transition to employment. They are cross-sectoral, providing a range of outreach services to support young people, including: employment and youth services; career practitioners; social/health professionals; and a range of charities.

This model is similar to the vision of Manor Property Group, which is developing a network of careers hubs. The first of these Qdos Career Hubs is planned to serve East Yorkshire, where youth unemployment has been rising, major skills shortages are evident and apprenticeship take-up is very low.

And, as is evident from Finland’s experience, the establishment of one-stop guidance centres is having a positive impact, with respondents feeling they were better involved in decision making about their own lives. This is exactly what Manor expects to achieve with our project – benefiting the local, regional and national economy and skills market.

Industry involvement

Another key theme, which comes through strongly when looking at Finland’s successful implementation of careers guidance, is the involvement of industry. Privatisation of services is always a contentious point in the UK, but is a common feature of careers guidance services in other countries. Over the past 10 years in Finland, the role of the private sector has increased, introducing more varied and flexible services. These have included online careers information and self-assessment tools as well as national projects to support continuous learning.

And in Canada, there has been substantial commercial investment from industry into career development. It is widely accepted that that industry-led education in Canada is progressive – offering much best practice for the UK to take note of. An example of this is RBC, Canada’s largest bank, committing to investing CA$500 million (£288 million) over 10 years in the Future Launch programme to help young people succeed in the emergent labour market. 

We have seen employability online programmes from major banks and financial institutions in the UK but we don’t culturally promote industry engagement in leadership of pioneering public services. Via its network of Qdos Career Hubs, Manor is keen to demonstrate how smaller businesses in the UK can create a legacy for their communities, supporting growth of the economy and young people, hand in hand.

Crucially, careers guidance gives young people a broader view of the opportunities available to them. It also offers employers the chance to consider their future skills needs and engage with the very audience they need to support these needs. A win-win.

Learning lessons from abroad reflects the necessity of taking an international view on these issues. We are operating in a global digital economy and this means opening young people’s eyes to how industry is working – now and in the future, here and abroad.

ViewPoint: Utilities Demand More From Apprenticeship Levy
January 6, 2020
0

CONTRIBUTOR: Nick Ellins, Chief Executive – Energy & Utility Skills

Image result for utilities sector

The utility sector led the way in implementing the government Apprenticeship reforms, was the first to secure a Trailblazer Standard and graduate an apprentice through the new system. They offer to act as a proven and credible ‘critical friend’ to an incoming government.

Now, Energy & Utility Skills, a skills and assurance organisation for the UK utilities sector, published a comprehensive review into the delivery and effectiveness of Apprenticeship reforms. The work forms one part of its workforce renewal and skills strategy to ensure that the gas, power, water and waste management industries has the human capital required to deliver environmental infrastructure and essential services to nearly 67 million UK consumers.

The employer-led review was independently written by Professor David Way CBE, a leading figure in UK skills and Apprenticeships. The report found the energy and utilities sector – which is of high strategic importance to government plans to boost UK productivity and will invest more than £100bn in the economy – has made the policy reforms deliver high quality workers but further adjustments are needed to make the apprentice system fit for purpose.

The ‘Test and Adjust’ report calls for six key actions:  

  1. Filling the funding gap

The predicted funding shortfall for Apprenticeships must be transparent. Any funding gap should be filled by a combination of increased public funding and lowering the payroll threshold to below £3m for employers who contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy. Public funding offers a proven healthy return for the UK economy

Linking Apprenticeships to the Industrial Strategy 

Success should be about more than the number of Apprenticeship starts, it should be linked to outputs and productivity. The sector calls for a change in approach to ensure critical skills delivery is incentivised, quality is increased and not undermined by funding cuts.

Sector training pot 

Unspent Apprenticeship Levy funds are returned to treasury. The sector askes that Levy funds are retained within the sector to create a flexible ‘sector training pot’ to be used for tackling skill challenges and enhancing productivity. Employers in the energy and utilities sector are currently losing up to £2.5million a month of unspent Levy

Employer leadership 

The employer-led approach must be extended to all parts of the Apprenticeship system. Employers know best when it comes to the skills and knowledge required in their businesses. This is tested at the end of the Apprenticeship programme by an Independent End Point Assessment organisation. Why then go back and check if 20% of their time was spent on ‘off the job’ training? Employers need to have more control over how their apprentices are trained.

UK wide approach 

Over half of the sector’s employers operate across the UK’s four nations, delivering services to around 67 million UK-wide customers. Every company in England must pay the Apprenticeship Levy based on their UK PAYE bill. However, it is only directly available to fund apprentices in England. In the other 3 nations it is passed back to their governments. This often leads to employers having to pay twice for Apprenticeship training. It is not uncommon for companies operating across the 4 nations to have cohorts of apprentices on two different Apprenticeship programmes.  The sector calls for a coherent UK-wide framework that works for employers and apprentices

From T-Levels to Apprenticeships 

The industry is positive about the introduction of T-Levels but calls for more transparency and detail on the pathways from T-Levels to Apprenticeships and employment. The sector is keen to see T-Levels and Apprenticeships working as one continuous process.

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, said: “The energy and utilities sector employs over half a million people, generates 5% of GDP and contributes £51m annually to the Apprenticeship Levy pot. They set the standard in delivering successfully against the policy reforms and from the start sought to positively help the government to ‘test and adjust’ its approach.

This report from Professor Way, sets out clearly for the incoming government, where to adjust the reforms to bring immediate benefits and policy success. Too much time is being spent focusing on the Apprenticeship Levy as an end in itself, what matters is the quality of the talent that emerges into the economy and society, and how effectively the system works for the employers who foot the bill.”

Report author, Professor David Way, CBE, said: “Employer-led reforms to the Apprenticeship programme are beginning to bear fruit, especially by improving quality. This will be vital for future productivity growth and for the expansion of the Apprenticeship programme.

The Apprenticeship Levy has not yet had the transformational impact on employer investment in skills training that Ministers were looking to achieve. However, employers are now familiar with the systems and are steadily increasing the proportion of their Levy payments that they are able to use.

By extending the employer-led approach to all parts of Apprenticeships and ensuring employers see the Levy arrangements as fair and transparent, there is every prospect that we will see the growth in high quality Apprenticeships that will drive the productivity increases needed for the UK to compete in the global economy.”

Nick Ellins concluded: “The Apprenticeship reforms have brought undeniable benefits to the employers in our sector, and they wish to accelerate the gains being made by identifying and embedding reforms that will work for the incoming government and for business. Their track record of turning theory into practice makes them a tried and tested partner for government. It is time to step back, draw breath, talk candidly, target the resources and efforts to maximum effect and use this insightful research to help Apprenticeship policy progress to support the needs of the whole UK economy”

ViewPoint: Apprenticeship Levy Needs ‘shake up’ to Serve Businesses and Communities
December 17, 2019
0

TWO OF THE UK’S LEADING FIGURES IN TECHNICAL EDUCATION AND SKILLS ARE CALLING FOR A RADICAL SHAKE-UP OF THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY SYSTEM SO IT BETTER SERVES BOTH BUSINESSES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES. CONTRIBUTOR NEIL BATES, CHAIR OF THE EDGE FOUNDATION AND JOHN BAUMBACK, MANAGING DIRECTOR – SEETEC.

Apprenticeships

There needs to be greater flexibility to allow businesses to use unspent levy funds to support people in local communities. Neil Bates, who has spent three decades as a leader in technical education, said: “The current levy system is simply not working. Less than a quarter of the available funds are being used and nearly £300m a month is being lost back to the Treasury. 

“We are seeing lots of rebadging of training for existing older workers rather than planned investment in creating a talent pipeline of young people from the local community who could benefit from an apprenticeship.”

Baumback, who started his career as an apprentice with Seetec and is now Group MD, added: “We know that most large businesses understand their corporate responsibilities, and many have ambitious CSR programmes to support communities, schools and good causes. 

“My idea is simple, rather than unspent levy being given back to HM Treasury, businesses should be able to use these funds to support educational programmes in their local communities. There are many examples of businesses like Investec, JLR, Greggs, Ford, UBS and BP who invest in education and in young people. It makes good business sense to do so because these young people are the workforce of the future.” 

The call for more flexibility is supported by CBI Deputy Director, Josh Hardie, who last year highlighted the case of a large insurer which runs an apprenticeship programme, internships, traineeships and work placements, but none are Levy-compliant due to the inflexibility of the scheme.

Unintended consequences
In the first six months of the levy in 2017, apprenticeship starts fell off a cliff, plummeting by 40% on the previous year. In the Levy’s first full year, employers used just 15% of the £3.9 billion pot. While this rose to 22% by January 2019, this still amounted to some £300m a month of unspent levy being taken back by HM Treasury.

 A survey of employers for People Management highlighted that, of those that planned to use the levy, 35% planned to use it on MBA or management training. Bates says  while there is nothing wrong with genuine apprenticeships for older workers, there is little evidence of funding being used to encourage more school leavers to secure a high-quality apprenticeship.

He believes the absence of an early talent pipeline will impact on UK businesses in a post-Brexit world where technical skills will be at a premium. An Edge Foundation report highlights that two thirds of UK apprentice starts are conversions of existing workers over the age of 25. In Germany and Austria 35% of all post-secondary school students are on an apprenticeship, in the UK it is just 4%. Bates says the low numbers of 16-18 year olds starting on high quality advanced apprenticeships, particularly in STEM subjects, is a fundamental weakness in the UK skills system. 

The levy is not enough
Baumback stresses that the best UK employers understand the need for a skills strategy to ensure a pipeline of talent to compete in a global market. Most also have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy linking the business to the local community and the education system to ensure that growth is inclusive.

Baumback and Bates argue that the best way to achieve long-term employer buy-in is to link these strategies. Allowing levy funds to be used for educational CSR initiatives would make a compelling business and social case.  

Building lasting partnerships
A strong example is Ford’s Next Generation Learning (NGL) programme, recently introduced into the UK in partnership with the Edge Foundation, North East LEP and local schools.

The aims are to strengthen the talent pipeline, prepare young people for college, careers, lifelong learning and leadership, achieve educational equity and increase community prosperity.

According to Bates and Baumback, this is one of many examples of large employers engaging with their local communities and building links between schools and employers. 

Bates cites Basildon, which grew up around the automotive industry in the 1960s, as an example of a community which could benefit from this approach. While technological change has transformed the town into an advanced engineering powerhouse, with highly-skilled, well-paid jobs, he argues the local education system has not kept pace.

“The consequence is that many residents do not have the education and skills needed to access these well-paid jobs. Young people, especially, are not sharing in this success. We need to make growth inclusive and allowing big business to use their levy to invest in the community benefits everyone”. 

Bates and Baumback say this would make the levy a force for good, fostering partnerships between large employers, local authorities, schools and communities. It would build on regional skills devolution, shifting control of policy and resources away from central government and into the hands of those that will benefit from it. 

This would be a logical next step in the reform of apprenticeships and technical education, they conclude. They are urging business groups to campaign for more flexibility, while developing a strategy to use the levy more productively.

ViewPoint: Why We Must Transform Careers Advice to Fit the #FutureofWork
December 12, 2019
0

The following article by Chris Jeffries, CEO at Dev Clever was published in FE News.

The argument that students must be helped to enter the correct career from the outset extends beyond personal success; 12 million people could be caught in a skills gap by 2024.

This would come as a result of millions of low-skilled workers entering a job market with numerous high-skilled jobs available and a lack of people qualified to fill them.

This skills crisis could result in £90bn of economic growth being lost, making it vital that we ensure students are entering the best possible careers in the first instance, and are aware of what skills will be required.

For this, we need improved careers advice in schools.

For the vast majority, careers advice at present remains woefully inadequate. Most advice still provides little to no structure or guidance, but instead relies on students making decisions based on their own limited encounters of adult professions.

This is frequently supplemented by basic advice from a ‘career councillor’, limited careers tests, and snippets of advice from parental figures and/or teachers- none of which takes into account elements of a student’s personality or skillsets.

In addition, careers advice at home is beset with further obstacles; over a third of parents are scared of providing the wrong advice to their child, with half worrying that their understanding of the current career environment may hinder their child’s future.

Moreover, relying on family figures to deliver careers guidance means socio-economic background continues to play a major role in impacting children’s careers; a recent report from the OECD international economics thinktank found that by the age of seven children are already facing limits on their future work aspirations.

Most of 2030’s Jobs Haven’t Been Invented Yet

Compounding the fraught issue of careers guidance, the rapid advancement of technology and the speed of change facilitated by this means that up to 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 11 years haven’t yet been invented. This means that the skillsets required for different careers are changing rapidly, as is the job market itself.

While the Government plans to place more available resources into primary and secondary schools, giving them the means to reach the mandated criteria of achieving the GATSBY benchmarks by the end of 2020, more change is still required to improve careers advice in schools.

Today’s students have been raised surrounded by digital experiences in every area of life, from entertainment platforms like Netflix to social media such as Instagram, and music platforms like Spotify. Students consequently expect better uses of tech in all aspects of their education – so why should careers advice be exempt from this?

Gamification boosts engagement

Gamification is everywhere too; from learning a language to brushing your teeth, gamification has been seen to help engage users more effectively. In 2018, for example, 85% of people said they’d spend more time on an app or software because of gamification elements.

Consequently, schools must take advantage of new technologies to bring gamification elements into careers advice and utilise tech to create immersive careers guidance experiences for their students. It is more important than ever that parents and schools are provided with the tools and technology to better guide and encourage children to make good decisions on next steps towards their futures.

Fully immersive virtual reality careers guidance experiences

Some success is already being seen, with a number of schools across the country now using VICTARand Launchpad, a fully immersive virtual reality experience that guides students of all ages through the decision-making process.

FE News@FENews

Personality-driven careers guidance and #VR to ensure students have greater access to innovative careers guidance: Dev Clever and Lenovo partner to bring personality-driven careers guidance and VR to schools Dev Clever, a leading developer of careers… http://dlvr.it/RDxyxq 

View image on Twitter

315:08 – 26 Sep 2019Twitter Ads information and privacySee FE News’s other Tweets

Based on the Myers-Briggs indicators, it goes through different questions to understand the student’s personality traits and then matches those traits to an appropriate career choice. From there, pupils can access Launchpad, an online platform supported by credible resources to learn more about the career matched to them.

The platform helps them to understand salary bands, career progression and what course to take to get them into their chosen career— whether that’s an apprenticeship or a particular course at university.

Such an immersive experience also serves to remove pressures from the environment around the student, such as fearing being incorrect in front of peers or the teacher. It permits students to be more honest about their personality and interests, thereby assisting the student in making a more accurate decision about their preferred career path.

Technology is transforming industries at speed, revolutionising the way we live our day-to-day lives. Education is no exception, with innovation being seen through the development of recorded lessons, the introduction of laptops and tablets to schools, and the use of interactive whiteboards – but it’s time that careers advice itself embraced such innovation.

If the younger generation are to prepare themselves for the jobs of tomorrow, we must give them the tools to reach their goals.

ViewPoint: Zero-Hours Contracts – A Short-Term Fix, but not a Long-Term Strategy
November 15, 2019
0

By Katie Maguire – Partner, Devonshires Solicitors LLP 

Despite adverse news coverage, zero hours contracts can be a useful tool for both employers and workers. More and more employers are using zero hours contracts incorrectly, however, leaving themselves wide open to legal challenges.

employment contract

Outside of employment circles, you would be forgiven for thinking that zero hours contracts are a fairly new phenomenon. In reality, of course, this could not be further from the truth. Casual working arrangements with no guaranteed working hours have been around for many years.

In recent years, due to significant media coverage zero hours contracts and the emergence of the so-called gig economy, it has almost become a dirty word.

Zero hours contracts can be a useful resource for both businesses and workers, but only if they are used correctly. 

Trade unions have condemned their use as a means of abusing low-income workers, providing no rights, salary or job security. The Labour Party has even pledged to ban them ‘to make sure every employee has a guaranteed number of hours a week’.

When used in the right way, however, there is no reason that they should not work for both businesses and workers.

Unfortunately, as an employment lawyer, I am seeing more and more cases where businesses are using zero hours contracts incorrectly – and suffering the costs as a consequence.

What are zero hours contracts for?

In a nutshell they are designed to be a short term, temporary fix for businesses to take on workers on a casual/ad hoc basis with no guarantee of work. This is invaluable for engaging people for last minute events, for filling temporary staff shortages or when needing extra staff on call.

With zero hours contracts, a business is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours, and in return, the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.

On the face of it this arrangement is beneficial for both parties as it allows flexibility with no obligation.

There have been a number of issues over the years, however, that has led to these contracts being criticised.

In 2016 a review by Sports Direct illustrated a number of failings that led to the company apologising for conditions in its warehouses and promising to offer shop staff guaranteed hours.

If a business uses zero hours contracts sparingly, on an ad hoc basis and to fill gaps in employment, that is acceptable as that is what they are intended for.

Other employers have faced similar wrath in the media and last year the Taylor Review and the Good Work Plan gave workers more rights, such as the right to an itemised pay slip and the right to a written statement of terms.

To address the problem, termed ‘one-side flexibility’, the government will introduce a right for all workers (with the exception of some care workers in Wales) to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of service.

Plumber Gary Smith won his Supreme Court case against his employers Pimlico Plumbers last year, despite being self-employed for six years. This offered gig economy workers further hope that they too would be entitled to further rights.

Despite the criticism the use of zero hours contracts has increased by 358% since 2012. Zero hours contract workers represent almost 3% of the UK workforce. This in itself shows that zero hours contracts still have a useful place in employment circles, but only if they are being used correctly.

What are employers doing wrong?

In recent months I have seen a stark increase in the number of zero hours workers who are bringing claims asserting that they are in fact employees and have been unfairly dismissed following the termination of their zero hour contract.

They are saying ‘I’m not a worker, I’m an employee’, and challenging the status of the zero hours contract. We are especially seeing this when a business has a bank of casual workers they can call upon. In this scenario, businesses should only use bank workers on an ad hoc basis when they have a temporary shortage of staff. For example, when they need holiday cover or they have somebody off sick.

Unfortunately, this has not happened and instead, businesses have been using their bank workers to cover permanent positions. For example, some businesses have been giving people on zero hours contracts the same shifts on a regular basis, i.e. every week or every month. As a result, the workers have then developed a pattern of working the same shifts on a regular basis. This then opens the business up to the challenge that the worker is, in fact, an employee.

One person had been working in the same position since 2012 and, even though they had long gaps in the work carried out, argued that they were an employee and brought a claim for unfair dismissal.

Ultimately in a case like this, the Employment Tribunal will need to consider whether an employment relationship exists, which is a question of fact. It will be necessary to look at the terms of the contract as well as the conduct of the parties, i.e. what the reality of the hours of work is and whether there is a regular pattern.

As a result, even if the contract has been drafted in a way that only intends to create a worker contract, it is possible for a Tribunal to find that the individual is in fact an employee, particularly following a period of regular work.

So what should employers do?

Zero hours contracts can be a useful resource for both businesses and workers, but only if they are used correctly. To do so, organisations need to realise that they are a short-term fix and not a long-term solution.

If a business uses zero hours contracts sparingly, on an ad hoc basis and to fill gaps in employment, that is acceptable as that is what they are intended for. If, however, they are using them to fill the same shifts time and time again, then they need to reassess what they are doing and should consider recruiting a permanent employee to fill the vacancy they have. If they continue to use these contracts, then they may find themselves unexpectedly facing legal action.

ViewPoint: Driving the Quality Improvement Agenda in #APPRENTICESHIPS
October 14, 2019
0

The following article is by Louise Doyle, director of Mesma.

Analysis of Ofsted inspections for apprenticeship provision indicates we still have some way to go to ensure we are getting the basics right – regardless of a new inspection framework says Louise Doyle, director of Mesma.

An examination of the latest Ofsted full inspection reports (April – August 2019) reveals several interesting themes. In summary, the profile for apprenticeships delivered by colleges reveals 8 out of 10 received a grade 3 or below. The same applies for 17 of the 26 independent training providers or employer providers.

Louise Doyle, director of Mesma
Louise Doyle, director of Mesma

Under the reports’ leadership section, we are seeing an ambitious vision as a factor among those providers who are achieving good inspections – supported by leaders prepared to take decisive steps to facilitate change where needed. So far; so good.

However, where leadership is struggling, we can see some common threads: weak governance and external scrutiny having a recurring impact. We see leaders who are slow to bring about improvement where there are lower grades and a lack of quality assurance, including inaccurate self-assessment, improvement planning and ineffective use of data. Poor sub-contractor management is clearly evident in those providers judged to be inadequate.

Poor quality progress reviews, a lack of engagement between the employer, the trainer and the trainee feature in the majority of college’s receiving grade three and four for apprenticeship delivery.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the red flag of the moment; not using information gathered at the learner’s start point to inform the program in knowledge, skills and behaviours, and maths and English which is mentioned often. What I will continue to warn against is the risk that a basic check undertaken prior to an apprentice joining the programme to satisfy funding requirements will suffice ‘initial assessment’.

It reminds me of the days when the completion of learning styles questionnaires was routine yet served no meaningful purpose for students. I recall some heated debates with a previous senior leader I reported into about why we shouldn’t be doing them because they were pointless. I’m glad the research now backs this up. I hope he’s seen it.

When it comes to quality of education, learners receiving good teaching, learning and assessment and support to improve those areas where things are going well. Good assessment practice, targets and feedback are features of those higher-grade reports.

However, issues around consistency still prevail. Weakness of assessment practice, target setting and feedback feature year after year as issues we need to address to improve the quality of provision. The impact of poorly delivered English and Maths features frequently when the grades are lower which won’t be a surprise to any of us.

Bucking the trend

Turning to HE institutions, our universities appear to be bucking the trend that ITPs and FE colleges are experiencing in terms of grade profile. All but 1 of the 9 HEIs inspected were graded as ‘Good’. It is to be applauded that many university senior leaders have been able to clearly articulate the importance of apprenticeships to widening participation and strategic direction more generally.

However, it’s not all sunshine and light because we are seeing some elements of HE senior leadership also failing to have sufficient oversight of quality management.

I don’t think I’m being unfair in stating that some of this success is due to the high volumes of programmes being delivered in the health service, where supervision of new staff is part of the employer’s fabric. This isn’t a criticism; it’s evidence of the important role employers play in driving quality apprenticeship delivery.

Looking at the Ofsted reports also reminds us why providers should quality assure their quality assurance systems to ensure they are doing what you need them to do. Sometimes, it seems like there’s so much quality assurance activity going on that we’re patting ourselves on the back because we do it, rather than reflecting on whether that particular process has an impact. If you do it, how do you use the data to drive improvement? If it doesn’t, why do it? Our clients are often surprised at our quest to strip back their QA rather than pad it out.

So, regardless of the changes being brought in by the new Ofsted framework, it’s clear that there are still some fundamental basics that can be improved to drive improvement across the spectrum. As our colleagues at Ofsted have themselves said, this is not about dancing to the tune of a new framework. Yes, let’s understand the new process of inspection but it doesn’t really change what a good apprenticeship looks like does it?

ViewPoint: Want More School Leavers to Choose Apprenticeships after GCSEs? We Need to See a Genuine Shift in Careers Advice
September 17, 2019
0

The following is by Emma Finamore, Editor, AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk

During GCSE results day 2019, some figures in business made it clear they want to see more 16-year-olds making the move to apprenticeships rather than A-levels.

“We need to see more young people choosing vocational pathways,” said Andrea Bull, head next generation marketing at Make UK, in a statement hoping to encourage those awaiting GCSE results to consider apprenticeship programmes.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of The Federation of Small Businesses, also highlighted how remaining on the purely academic route isn’t right for all GCSE students, saying:

“Each year pupils will make critical decisions about how they intend to further their education, which for some will mean going onto study A-levels. But while that may suit some pupils entering Sixth Form, it doesn’t help others who may thrive far better elsewhere.”

There was also plenty of talk of the increasing exam pressure young people face, further making the case that for many, moving to a different form of education and training would be beneficial rather than staying on the ‘classrooms and exams’ track of A-levels.

The National Education Union, for example, polled more than 600 members who taught GCSE subjects in England. More than seven out of 10 said their students’ mental health had worsened since new exams were introduced.

The Girlguiding charity reveal the results of its 2019 Girls’ Attitudes Survey on the eve of GCSE results dayIt showed that the majority of girls worry poor exam grades will ruin their future opportunities in life. More than half of girls (52%) say exam pressures affect how happy they are, yet four in five say they don’t get the support they need to manage exam-related stress.

Meanwhile, Childline revealed there were 1,141 counselling sessions delivered to children and teenagers in 2018 to 2019, an increasing by more than 50% since 2014 to 2015 – a fifth of these therapy sessions took place in August, when students receive GCSE and A-level results.

Megan, 17, a spokesperson for Girlguiding, said:

“I know this feeling all too well; I sat my GCSEs last year and I spiralled under the stress. I would often cry myself to sleep, choosing between showering or taking another practice test for physics.”

Despite the difficulty many young people experience under an exam-based system like GCSEs, and the need for more 16-year-olds to take up apprenticeships, the majority of those going on to take Level 3 qualifications (about three in five) are doing so via A-levels rather than moving on to a different form of training and education.

To see a genuine shift in careers advice, everyone needs to be on board

In the whole of the Guardian’s live report of GCSE results day, for example, there was just one mention of a 16-year-old school leaver going on to an apprenticeship.

This anecdotal reporting plays out in the statistics too. While 82% more people aged 25 and above are now doing higher-level apprenticeships at Level 4 and above, apprenticeship starts for 16- to-18-year-olds continue to fall, and Level 2 starts (one of the key levels for those leaving school after GCSEs) have dropped by more than 50% since the apprenticeship reforms were introduced in May 2017.

It seems doubtful – given the stress and angst the system clearly causes for many – that 16-year-olds are so excited about another two years of classroom learning and exams they won’t consider any other option.

What seems more likely is that the people who matter – parents, schools and employers – aren’t promoting apprenticeships as a post-GCSE option as best they could.

This could start earlier in the classroom: Talking about GCSE results as a potential bridge to Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships as well as A-levels and jobs from the word go, rather than later in the process; explaining how a Level 2 apprenticeship could now lead to Levels 3, 4 and above, all with a salary; the job prospects and employability of apprentices (with their hands-on work experience) compared to young people who only have exam results under their belts.

Teachers could be promoting the advantages of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships to parents too, again early on in their children’s education, and presented as an equal to the option of A-levels. But they can only do this if they’re sufficiently knowledgeable about these advantages, and about the range of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships on offer.

Employers could help them – and help themselves secure the interest of students considering leaving school after GCSEs – do this by engaging with schools earlier.

The School Leaver Conference is just one way that employers and education professionals can come together to improve their knowledge and awareness of the early careers landscape, and foster new relationships and existing partnerships. If we want more young people to see the value of options other than A-levels, we must try harder.

ViewPoint: Why Doesn’t the Skills Sector get the Importance of Management Skills?
September 11, 2019
0

By Mandy Crawford-Lee, Director of Policy and Operations, University Vocational Awards Council.

It seems that every few months a survey is published on the UK’s low productivity together with an analysis of why poor management skills provide part of the explanation for the UK’s productivity gap.

Mandy Crawford-Lee

This August it was the turn of Lloyds Bank with a survey of large manufacturers.

Commenting on the survey in The Times, Lloyds Bank’s head of manufacturing Steve Harris stated:

‘Large manufacturers are being brutally honest about the skills shortage affecting their sector and are highlighting that the problem is most pronounced at management levels.’

He went on to say: ‘Most experts agree good management is key to improving productivity. It is clear the sector needs to invest in up-skilling the next generation of managers now.’

DfE, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE), the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Ofsted should take note of this report – the health of our manufacturing sector is vital to the well being of the UK economy.

The Apprenticeship levy was, of course, introduced as a productivity tax, designed to compel employers to invest more in the training and development of their employees to raise productivity.

Management Apprenticeships, such as the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship and Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship are being used very successfully by UK manufacturers across sectors as diverse as automotive, aerospace, rail, informatics, food & drink, construction/civil engineering, electronics, oil & gas and defence to raise skills levels and productivity.  So good news and something to be celebrated? Not apparently to some in the so-called skills sector.

The schools and further education inspectorate, Ofsted has, for example, been clear in its view that the Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship doesn’t need levy funding. A rather bizarre position given Lloyds Bank’s findings on the need to enhance management skills, which echoes points made in a range of other reports including the Government’s own Industrial Strategy and the position of the Bank of England. Enhancing management skills is fundamental to raising productivity and Apprenticeship is first and foremost a productivity programme. When using management apprenticeships employers are doing exactly what Government has asked them to do: that is develop and use the Apprenticeships their businesses need to raise productivity. So what doesn’t Ofsted get?

Employers paying to rectify a deficiency of the schools’ sector

The response is usually that Apprenticeship should be prioritised for young people, particularly those who don’t achieve a full level 2. But shouldn’t employers have a right to expect the schools’ system and Ofsted to ensure young people achieve a level 2 qualification after 11 years of compulsory education? While no one would deny the need to support young people, it seems inappropriate for Ofsted to argue that a hypothecated productivity tax imposed on employers, the Apprenticeship levy, should be used to fund training programmes to rectify a deficiency of the schools’ sector. After all, doesn’t Ofsted have some responsibility for school standards and performance?

Many in the skills sector have also opposed the growth of management apprenticeships. Some going so far as to argue that level 6 and 7 Apprenticeships shouldn’t be funded by the Apprenticeship levy. Such an argument is, of course, nonsense. If the Apprenticeship levy is about productivity then employers should be able to use it where they need to, regardless of level, to raise productivity. I don’t doubt there are some skills shortage areas in the UK economy at level 2, but if we’re about using Apprenticeship to develop a high skill, high productivity economy provision will increasingly be focused on level 3 – 7, including Management Apprenticeships.

I hope the Treasury, DfE and IfATE take note of the Lloyds Bank report, get behind our large manufacturers and support the use of management apprenticeships to raise skills levels, productivity and UK prosperity. UVAC will be supporting providers deliver the Management Apprenticeships our large manufacturers need. We hope others in the skills sector will do likewise.

Mandy Crawford-Lee, Director of Policy and Operations, University Vocational Awards Council

ViewPoint: The Power of Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Transforming Careers and Lives By Lori A. Jazvac
August 9, 2019
0

Shellie Deloyer, founder, coach, and trainer at Bright Futures Solutions describes Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) as

“a set of tools, techniques, and skills that empower people to create lasting and transformative changes so they can create the results and outcomes they’re looking for.”

Learning about NLP has given me a refreshing perspective on how to look at life, foster transformation, and build healthy relationships.

NLP is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, USA, in the 1970s.

NLP: The Foundation for Growth and Change

As career professionals, we’ll often encounter clients who feel “stuck” and disempowered in their careers. However, it is not always about their lack of resources, but rather how they are using their conscious mind (the “goal setter”) and unconscious mind (the “goal getter”) to establish and achieve their goals. In fact, the conscious mind can be compared to the captain of a large ship and the unconscious mind as its crew. When the conscious and unconscious minds are in sync, then one gains a clear focus to efficiently achieve their goals.

The Solution Model

Sometimes, we see our clients carrying around disappointments, past regrets, fears, and the pain of career setbacks, all of which can hinder their future success. We can help guide them towards greater clarity, purpose, and motivation by encouraging them to step back to observe their problems and reframe their perspectives. Champion clients to become more aware of their problems, the root causes, and recurring patterns.

How do we steer them towards a solution? We can do so by rechannelling their focus to the skills that need to be developed, then motivating them to leverage those skills, take action, and implement and manage the solution.

Ask your clients this critical question: what is the secondary gain?

Secondary gain is at play when an apparently negative or problematic behaviour provides a positive or beneficial result in some way. The presence of a secondary gain makes the negative or problematic behaviour more likely to continue unless specifically dealt with. An example would be a person who knows that smoking is harmful and no longer socially acceptable, but believes that it’s a good way to relax and look sophisticated.

Secondary gain is often outside of conscious awareness, many layers removed from the presenting problem, so it requires some digging to identify the root. Work with the client to uncover the benefits that he or she gets, regardless of the difficulties and barriers presented by the problem. What pay-off or gain is being achieved that outweighs the pain of having the problem?

By raising their awareness, our clients will uncover some valuable insights and shift from a “problem mindset” where they make excuses and justify their lack of results, into a “solution mindset.” The key really lies in tapping into the unconscious mind more frequently to maximize success.

Some Thoughts from Shellie on Applying NLP in Career Coaching

I asked Shellie about the most important lessons she’s learned from applying NLP in her work with clients, and about how she believes NLP can help career pros in the coaching work they do.

Her response: “I’ve learned how much we all have our own limitations and baggage that we carry around. It’s part of the human experience, regardless of how good or not-so-good your life is, but these limitations hinder the process of living to our potential.

When we commit to cleaning up the past and getting clear on our direction for the future, then we can become empowered to create the life we want to live. NLP gives us the tools to be able to do so.

Awareness is great, and it provides the foundation to know what you need to work on. However, awareness alone doesn’t solve the problem. You then need the tools to be able to reconcile unresolved issues and build new skills that will lead you to your desired outcomes. That’s what NLP provides. It’s a set of tools, techniques, and skills that empower people to create lasting and transformative change.”

Shellie says that NLP gives career pros a very effective tool to reveal the root cause of problems clients present during coaching sessions, resolve these issues, and develop skills that will lead to positive change.

A webinar learning I took away was that helping clients reach their next level of growth involves asking the right questions, actively listening, brainstorming, eliciting values, and helping them discover the solution.

To uncover values, ask the client this question: “What’s important to you in the context of your career?” Repeat the question three times to keep eliciting more responses. Afterwards, have the client rank the values they named in order of importance.

Next, by using visualization, we can help clients to “see” a creative solution in their mind’s eye, and then we work on achieving that solution, step-by-step, while ensuring respect for their values.

NLP Presuppositions: Basic Principles to Respect in NLP Coaching

There are a number of foundational beliefs – or presuppositions – to respect when using NLP with clients, but three of them really resonated with me:

  • People have all the resources they need to succeed and to achieve their desired outcomes. There’s no such thing as a lack of resources. There’s only a lack of resourcefulness.
  • There is no failure, only feedback.
  • All procedures should be designed to increase choice.

When we, as career professionals, adopt these liberating beliefs, we can support our clients in achieving what they may think of as impossible.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”  C. S. Lewis

ViewPoint: Understand Cognitive Science to Work Better by Art Markman
July 9, 2019
0

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.”