With the government drive for greater numbers of apprenticeships and the uncertainty as to how these are to be delivered effectively, how can the sector adapt to bring greater access to learners and flexibility to employers and the teams delivering these valuable qualifications?
Understanding how to design and deliver these qualifications in such a way so as to increase engagement and drive success rates is paramount if we are to respond successfully to the increase in programmes.
MBIT Training Ltd based in Gloucestershire are among those independent training providers who have successfully reduced the delivery time and therefore cost of one of their programs as well as increasing their engagement. They have also provided greater flexibility to employers whilst in turn increased their own capacity to deliver more courses.
By applying some basic Lean Thinking tools together with a simple methodology, they have been able to condense courses for experienced professionals who are either too busy or who are already skilled in certain elements of the framework. Instead simply using blended learning in the format of an e-learning package they have successfully removed wasteful activity in the design and delivery of one of their IT programmes. By mapping the appropriate units to give learners the confidence to apply professional, experiential and cognitive skills within a range of job skills for one employer they were able to increase the value of the service. This mapping of units against job skills and competencies provided a much more cohesive alliance and made the units more industry specific, as well as offering opportunities for further training from the employer.
A traditional lesson would have been to teach the basics and build up to a level where the delegates had a good level of competency, building toward industry standard. This was never the aim of their delivery. Matthew Bennett of MBIT explains, “ The programme had to be robust enough for delegates at different points to be taught in the same class. It had to be adaptable, continuously flexible but also to enable them to interrelate their skills to other IT roles.”
This continuous improvement ethos is key to the ‘lean’ vocabulary. Review cycles often loose their impact and validity when not consistently and continuously checked. By placing a greater emphasis on clearer and more structured review cycles, we can measure improvements more consistently and change things if they are not working.
Each lesson inspired the next…
Wasteful activity was reduced and duplication removed as the lesson plans introduced concepts from the previous lesson as often as was relevant. Each lesson inspired the next without repeating the learning. The relevance of the lesson was captured in the plenary at the end of the session – learners had gained a tangible skill which could be brought to bear; their relevance to the industry understood and clearly linked to prior and future learning.
Assessment took place with no fewer than 20 different methods, mixing formative and summative assessment, providing evidence which was initially sufficient to pass assessment but was then revisited in the second phase of the programme when assessors were able to capture relevant evidence to support not only that learning was still taking place but also to contextualise their understanding against other elements of the framework relevant to their qualification.
PUSH to PULL
By moving away from traditional methods of delivery we can provide greater flexibility for those receiving the training, as well as those designing and delivering it. A more customer focused approach to curriculum design could enable employers and providers to work more closely together and provide the catalyst to offer greater flexibility in delivery and broader access by which to meet the need of all learners.
Future curriculum could then be designed purely around the need of those employers paying for it – this would then really become ‘demand led’ training and move away from the concept of creating or ‘pushing’ training to customers towards a ‘pull’ from the employer.
Matthew Bennett is the Director of MBIT Training Ltd – a commercial training provider offering expert training to organisations enabling them to improve their employees to keep them recent, relevant, and productive. Operating on-site and also training centre-focussed training courses at over 40 sites nationwide.