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Strategies for Effective Employer Engagement Lessons from the South West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project.

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Presentation on theme: "Strategies for Effective Employer Engagement Lessons from the South West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Strategies for Effective Employer Engagement Lessons from the South West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project

2 The Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project  Commenced activity January 2007  12 South West HEIs and 3 FECs directly involved  Activity completes December 2009 (limited continuation until July 2010)

3 Aims and objectives of HLSP  To build on successful employer engagement activity within the region to: embed HE in employer workforce development and skills strategies regionally and at a business sector level bring about a step change from supply-led to demand-led provision for businesses  By exploring and testing ways of connecting employers and HE on a regional basis to: Increase demand from employers for higher level skills development Help HE respond to them

4 HLSPP as a case study  Team of 12 Intermediaries testing methodologies to engage employers and assist HEIs/FECs to respond to demand led higher level skills development.  A capacity building fund to support the high risk activity of developing new demand led provision  Researchers exploring and interpreting existing and emerging employer engagement to identify barriers and drivers.  Development of an framework for accreditation and credit transfer.

5 The journey through time Recruitment and placing intermediaries and scoping roles Development of employer engagement processes Embedding collaboration processes Transfer of outcomes

6 Higher Skills Research Project  Conducted by University of Exeter in association with the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE)  Aimed to: Uncover barriers and facilitators to effective HE-employer engagement (EE) Learn from current HE-EE practice Identify mechanisms for enhancing HE-EE

7 Higher Skills Research Project December 2009 Phase 3 Case studies of 10 HEIs Strategies for Effective HE Employer Engagement Phase 1 Literature Review Phase 2 Case studies of 27 EE initiatives

8 Higher Skills Research Project  April 2007 - Dec 2009  Over 150 reports reviewed  Over 150 interviews conducted  In approx 25 HEIs and 10 FECs  Over 30 employers and employer groups consulted  Case studies in all English regions

9 Supporting… 5. Staff resourcing and capability 6. Culture and systems supportive of collaboration 7. Funding and investment Sustaining… 4. Developing, sustaining and leading the partnership Defining… 1. Strategic fit for the HEI and its partners 2. Finding partners and establishing the relationship 3. Designing and delivering an appropriate learning package Summary of Findings Facilitators and barriers to HE-EE

10 1.Defining the focus of EE activity






16 1.Strategic fit for the HEI and its partners An ongoing process of alignment Connor and Hirsh, 2008: Influence Through Collaboration Strategic Fit Practical Fit People Fit Specific Engagement Opportunity HE Providers corporate plan Employers business plan Learners life/career plan

17 2.Finding partners and establishing the relationship HEIs FE colleges Private trainers Employer groups Business Link RDAs SSCs Professional bodies …

18 Direct Employer group Sub- contracted Mediated 2.Finding partners and establishing the relationship

19 3.Designing and delivering an appropriate learning package IV. Assessment or accreditation of in-company learning e.g. awarding academic credits for in-house provision III. Short bespoke courses, workshops and seminars e.g. CPD, access to HE, forums (often unaccredited) II. Enhancing existing provision e.g. integrating work based modules into degree programmes I. Major new ventures with employers e.g. new foundation degrees, MSc programmes Student employability Curriculum development Applied research Knowledge Transfer Consultancy Careers & recruitment

20 3.Designing and delivering an appropriate learning package Level FDs and NVQs Masters & PhD Design Off-the-shelf Tailored Accreditation Unaccredited Accredited Scale Small scale/ad hoc Mass provision

21 Defining the focus…  Aligning interests and capabilities  Working effectively with partners  Building on areas of strength/capability  Meeting the needs of employers, learners and HEIs Higher Skills Resources Higher Skills Toolkit and ONA Higher Skills Case Studies

22 Discussion topic  Considering the three areas covered so far, how could your institution’s current practices be improved or adapted?

23 2.Supporting EE activity


25 Supporting the provision  Drivers Capacity building fund to cover the development costs Academic with a passion for the topic or employer collaboration Employer with enthusiasm  Inhibitors Lack of academic time Employers withdrawing their support Size of demand Funding of delivery

26 1.Staff resourcing and capability Subject knowledge Teaching experience Customer focus & service orientation Resourcing EE in HE

27 2.Culture and systems supportive of collaboration Flexible approach to purpose of HE Bridging cultures Time and incentives for academics Financial and administrative flexibility

28 3.Funding and investment Recognising the real cost of employer engagement Public funding for development Assessing sustainability & financial risk

29 Supporting activity…  Are our staff capable of doing what we’re asking of them?  Are they recognised & rewarded for this activity?  Are our financial and administrative systems up to the job?  Are we capable of responding in a ‘business like’ way? Higher Skills Resources Shell Accreditation Framework Funding Methodology

30 Discussion topic  In what ways does your institution currently support development activity?  What further support would be useful?

31 3.Developing, sustaining and leading EE partnerships

32 Developing, sustaining and leading EE Supporting & resourcing EE Structures for teaching & learning Communicating & embedding approach Strategic purpose of EE Changing contexts for EE

33 Developing, sustaining and leading EE 1. EE is core to the purpose of HE and always has been 2. The ‘student experience’ is a key driver for EE within all types of HEI 3. The success of EE is dependent on putting appropriate systems in place 4. Workforce development is just one aspect of EE and not a priority for all HEIs 5. The involvement of academics is key to successful EE 6. EE requires culture change - but not of the kind often assumed 7. Achieving successful EE is a major leadership challenge for HE and those working with it

34 “Universities, at the heart of the UK’s growing knowledge economy, are facing unprecedented challenges. Tasked not only with educating students, whose expectations of education is changing, and with producing cutting-edge internationally recognised research, universities are also being asked to work with local communities and collaborate with businesses. Yet these are significant calls on finite resources and questions need to be raised about how universities and their leaders can best respond to the challenges they are now facing.” Work Foundation (2008)

35 A systemic perspective on HE-EE

36 A leadership challenge…

37 Sustaining HE-EE partnerships  An academic with passion for the work  A collaborative approach  Clarity of roles and responsibilities  Ensure buy-in  Build in continuity  Support at senior levels  Need for ongoing leadership (at many levels)  Recognise complex leadership needs Higher Skills Resources Higher Skills Research Reports

38 Discussion topic  Now the Pathfinder is coming to an end, how are you sustaining partnerships with employers?  If you didn’t have a Pathfinder, what are the key issues for you?

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