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BILD Conference - Engagement in Learning


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DateJuly 14, 2008 Posted by: Nige Howarth   Keywords: engaging trainers, involving managers, learner engagement, learners, managers support

 “Engagement in Learning”  Insights & Lessons from the BILD Annual Conference

With the theme of ‘Engagement in Learning’, which strikes a particular chord with Towards Maturity, BILD (The British Institute for Learning & Development) held their annual conference on Thursday 12th June 2008 at the CBI Conference Centre in London. We felt it was worth sharing some insight from the conference for those who were unable to attend. To BILD the ‘Engagement in Learning’ event had 4 discrete strands: 
  1. Plugging skill gaps
  2. Integration
  3. The Learner
  4. Engagement
Fundamentally the conference was concerned about the ‘Value of Skills’, a theme that Towards Maturity embraced some time ago. Among the highlights: Myths about learner engagement Kirstie Donnelly (Director of Products and Marketing @ Ufi Learndirect) explored innovative ways to engage in learning, challenging 3 common myths about learner engagement: 
  1. Build it and they will come! (No they won’t!)
  2. People never change (Yes they do!)
  3. Keep it real (By embracing ‘real world’ and current technologies)
 Kirstie showed examples of innovative programmes that Learndirect have developed that engage learners, and how the myths are being dispelled. Kirstie shared some statistics to reinforce the fact that we all now inhabit an ‘e-world’ such as: 
  • 84% of 15 – 24 year olds use the Internet
  • 90% od people who are online use broadband
  • 91% access email
  • 27.6% view video clips
  • 86% own a mobile phone
(Sources: TGI Net Wave 13, BMRB Internet Monitor Jan 08) To encourage engagement in learning she advocates in a virtual world active management which responds to learner behaviour, live & current content from proprietary and aggregated resources and a smart portal which suggests content and links learners with common interests. We agree with Kirstie’s comments on the need to attract learners and on the Towards Maturity site you’ll find more practical tips on engaging learners and managers that reinforce much of what Kirstie described in her session. In fact our research has shown that learners and managers are the most critical stakeholders for success but are the toughest to engage. The biggest challenge we faceMiles Templemen (Director General, Institute of Directors) stated that ‘upgrading skills in the UK is the most important challenge and issue we face’. Like many, Miles expressed concern that frustratingly Government seems to believe that further constraints, measures, tests and assessments is the way to accelerate change and achieve what is needed, so the hope has to be that the voice of industry and those from the provider community can help them see the light. Miles also emphasised the critical need for far greater interaction between employers and FE colleges, and this is one aspect that Towards Maturity is seeking to help strengthen in the coming months. 6 strands to engage learners & impact business Our own Laura Overton (Towards Maturity) outlined the 6 key, complimentary strands that maturing organisations exhibit when successfully harnessing learning technologies that result in positive business impact. http://www.towardsmaturity.org. Laura emphasised the need to move to a ‘Demand-led System’ for learning provision rather than the traditional cycle of supply and demand.

Ensuring engagement in learning is just one of the 6 strands in the Towards Maturity model which intertwine, each having numerous dimensions.

(See the Towards Maturity website homepage for the model)  Determining future skills demand Paul Savill (Director of Marketing @ CBLearning) gave some valuable insight on techniques for researching market needs. Determining needs within a company is traditionally driven by a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) but Paul explored past skills consumption as a way of determining skills demand ahead of a TNA. Meeting the ‘Skills Gap’ challenge

Mike Campbell (Director of Research and Policy at the Commission for Employment and Skills) gave a fascinating and critical insight into the challenges that the UK faces in meeting the ‘Skills Gap’ challenge highlighted in the Leitch Review and the Governments World Class Skills Implementation plan. As a nation we face an enormous challenge in raising skill levels, especially in addressing those with little or no qualifications.  Mike put into context where we stand as a nation compared against other OECD countries in terms of the skills gap and shared the following statistics: 
  • 17th out of 30 OECD countries in the proportion (35%) with no/low qualifications
  • 20th out of 30 OECD countries in the proportion (36%) with intermediate qualifications
  • 11th out of 30 OECD countries in the proportion (29%) qualified to level 4 and above
  • 20/23rd of OECD countries in the proportion ‘literate’/ ‘numerate’
The ambition for World Class Skills is to have: 
  • Alignment between Needs and Provision
  • A focus on ‘Economically Valuable’ Skills. Mike rightly emphasised the focus on ‘Economically Valuable Skills’ that are valuable to both the individual and the employer.
  • Demand Led, Employer Driven
We have an ageing workforce with 75% of the 2020 workforce already in the workplace, many of whom are seen as the least likely to train. So we have a major challenge as a nation. “A workforce with poor skills not only makes their own lives poorer, it makes all of our lives poorer….. and a highly skilled workforce will not only make their own lives richer, it will make all of our lives richer” The key role of the Commission is to deliver and develop an independent view of how employment and skills services can be improved to achieve increased employment retention and progression, skills and productivity”  and in year 1 they have a number of key projects: 
  • Underpinning Research Programme – UK & International research programme to inform annual progress report
  • ‘Mapping’ the UK employment and skills system to facilitate employer access and support
  • Employability Skills – focused on the pedagogy and delivery of employability skills to significantly increase work readiness
  • Labour Market Information models – to ensure consistent, high quality and reliable LMI
  • Skills Utilisation – using skills in the workplace to improve productivity and business strategies
  • ‘Customer Journey’ studies – to simplify the English employment/skills system by tracking user experiences
  • Employee Demand Study – assessing existing barriers to employee participation in career-advancing skills and training
 Finally Mike briefly explained that UKCES are the ‘glue’ that brings together: 
  1. Quality Provision
  2. Qualifications
  3. Ambition & Aspiration
  4. Skills Utilisation
  5. Employability
We are exploring various contributions from the concurrent breakout sessions for the Towards Maturity website in coming months, so watch for further updates. Nige HowarthTowards Maturity CICJuly 2008

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