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Coventry University Wins £3.5-Million to Launch New Employer Engagement Programme

Coventry University's School of Lifelong Learning has won more than £3.5-million to design a high-level Employer Engagement Project to spearhead employer engagement in higher education through work-based learning.

The grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to design a flexible and relevant programme for people in the workplace is in response to the skills deficit recognised by The Leitch Review of Skills released last month. The Leitch report revealed that the UK must develop a highly skilled workforce – as a matter of urgency - and that to become a skills leader by 2020 there needs to be a 29% rise in high-level workers.

The project is set to drive forward new ways for universities to work with employers and improve organisational development. The innovative approach to work-based learning and accreditation is set to seek employer input in the construction and delivery of courses.

Research has revealed that private and public sector employers need to develop qualifications for middle managers and senior supervisors. The employer engagement programme is designed to offer customised, on the job learning. The programme, which will contain bespoke elements for particular companies, will develop the potential and capability of middle managers.

For some employers the learning offered by universities (particularly the delivery, assessment and timescales) is too inflexible. Also, employers value learning that is customised for their business, and which is not delivered by generic university-based programmes. But now the unique year-long qualification that combines an NVQ and HE level elements focuses on work-based delivery and minimises off-the-job time.

Coventry University will work with major national and international organisations from both the private and public sectors, such as Parcelforce Worldwide, The Automobile Association, Perkins Engines and Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, to deliver the training and learning programmes.

Dr Darryl Bibby, Dean of the School of Lifelong Learning at Coventry University, said: "A radical change in the way young people and adults are trained is needed to plug the skills gap and to stop Britain lagging behind. The take-up of work-based learning opportunities at HE level is key to Britain's ability to help create sustainable employability. Coventry University has been trusted with the task of designing a new breed of flexible HE vocational qualifications as it is recognised as leading in this area."

"The qualification combines HE with professional development to help develop business skills. The innovative programme combines cognitive learning and practical skills to take people forward and develop talent in ways that other qualifications don't."

The project is set to lead the delivery of work-based learning by universities. It will, for example, investigate ways of gathering evidence in work time and design methods for tracking the progress of groups of learners working on the same qualification at different times.

The new qualification is based on National Occupational Standards relevant to each workplace and competence will be benchmarked using the NVQ element of the qualification. It will also incorporate traditional topics such as leadership and change management.

For further information contact: Dr Darryl Bibby, Dean, School of Lifelong Learning, Coventry University, Email,

Jenny Murray | alfa
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