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The importance of workplace learning ‘overlooked’


The importance of workplace learning has been overlooked according to the chief executive of the Edge Foundation.

Andy Powell said: “The importance of workplace learning has been overlooked for too long. Businesses contain a wealth of knowledge and expertise and there is no reason why the workplace cannot become the preferred location for post-graduate achievement.

“Establishing organisations as validated locations of higher-level learning would reinforce the brand names of the businesses concerned and help to make them employers of choice – a critical differentiation in the war for talent.”

Together with the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), the Edge Foundation is one of the supporters of the not-for-profit workplace learning consultancy HE@Work, which has just released a study into attitudes towards education, qualifications and achievement.

According to the findings, 72% of employees believe they haven’t yet reached their full potential at work and 80% would actively welcome opportunities to develop professionally at work.

The results of the HE@Work study come as the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) calls for an increase in the proportion of the population educated to level 4 and above to 40% by 2020.

The Higher Education at Work (2008) report acknowledges that increasing places at universities is not enough to achieve this aim – particularly as three-quarters of the 2020 workforce have already completed their full-time education and are currently in employment.

The report asks the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop proposals for accrediting higher-level training delivered through the workplace.

The HE@Work survey findings reinforce the DIUS research. The study found that employees already educated to degree level were the most keen to develop further (87%), whilst 67% of people with no qualifications at all would also welcome the opportunity to develop professionally.

As a result, HE@Work is currently establishing relationships between employers and universities to unlock this latent talent.

John Mumford, former VP of BP (UK) and executive chairman of HE@Work concurred, said: “The DIUS report identifies the need for higher level skills in order for UK plc to remain competitive. Our own research indicates that employees are looking for opportunities to develop professionally through education and training in the workplace. There is a clear call to action here.”

A PowerPoint presentation about HE@Work incorporating the key findings of the research is available immediately via the HE@Work website. Interested parties can also register to receive a management summary of the full survey findings when they are released.


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