AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Effective employer engagement in full time construction-related foundation degrees, with particular emphasis on workplace learning

by John Pearson

Institution: University of Northumbria
Year: 2014
Keywords: X900 Others in Education
Record ID: 1402241
Full text PDF: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/21612/


According to the creators of Foundation Degrees, effective employer engagement involves participation in programme design and review, together with the provision, delivery and assessment of content: also the offer of workplace learning. The principal focus of the current study is the management and assessment of workplace learning modules for full time built environment Foundation Degrees, and the participation in this of each stakeholder group: providers, employers, students and Professional Bodies. Certain factors have been identified, deemed critical to the success of this essential element of the curriculum. Nowhere in the existing literature are the perspectives of all the stakeholders, sometimes conflicting, brought together in a single empirical study, particularly one which takes account of current recessionary pressures. The current study, qualitative in nature, examines the standpoint of each stakeholder: seeking their interpretation and experience of, and satisfaction with, workplace learning in the light of their own needs and expectations, and identifying common ground. Data is drawn from questionnaires and interviews involving representatives of all stakeholder groups, focusing in particular on six providers offering contrasting examples of practice, and the employers, students and Professional Bodies associated with each. All interviewees were asked for indicators of successful workplace learning, for the factors which in their experience promoted and sustained effective engagement, and for any possible barriers to this. Various forces are found to operate upon the stakeholders, ranging from large-scale commercial pressures (particularly in time of recession) to small localised issues. Employer engagement calls for relationships involving understanding, commitment, sustained effort and effective communications on the part of all key stakeholders and not just the employer. There is room for greater standardisation of the management and assessment of workplace learning, and some form of framework is thought desirable by the majority of respondents, although nothing too prescriptive. A draft framework has been created which seeks to satisfy as much as possible the needs and expectations of all the key stakeholders, based on the critical success factors referred to above. Whilst Professional Bodies are generally respected by the other parties, their present input to and control over workplace learning appears limited. The findings of this study are intended to inform all parties to construction-related vocational education, particularly those involved in the provision of Foundation Degrees or Honours Degrees, where a period of workplace learning is a required element.