Within the UK, literacy, numeracy and digital skills within the current workforce are found to be somewhat lacking, especially within the under 25-year-old demographic. This OTLA project (Outstanding Teaching Learning & Assessment) aimed to figure out the best way to not only where these skills are lacking, but how to embed them within apprenticeship programmes, work experience placements and the industry field.
At the beginning of the project, in partnership with British Airways, Booker Wholesale and the Sussex Council of Training Providers, we identified several aims:
- Consider to what extent it was important that Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Skills are essential to the Apprenticeship standards
- Explore how well employers understand their importance; figure out how TL&A (Teaching, Learning & Assessment) can be developed to improve these skills in employers' apprentices and workforce
- Understand how employers are best supported to allow them to support their own apprentices.
It was discovered, after workshops and feedback sessions, that the best way to develop, embed and improve these core skills would be through the use of Infographics. These would be available to put up in classrooms, in work-experience placements, and within the workplace.
At the start of the project, we had thought that the documents produced would be:
- A menu of options for a range of apprenticeship standards - to name effective ways of developing teaching, learning and assessment to improve numeracy
- A set of fact sheets for employers - to help them identify how they can support the development of literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
After collaboration, it was decided the project would produce Infographics - these were modeled on the Home Office’s Digital ‘The Dos and Don’ts on designing for accessibility’: https://accessibility.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/02/dos-and-donts-on-designing-for-accessibility/
The project also thought it would be beneficial to produce a set of blended learning e-resources, which would help overcome technological barriers to online information and learning resources. These are online Numeracy and Literacy courses. Both these e-resources specifically improve the variation of teaching methods.
What was the impact of the Infographics?
The project hoped to improve initial practice of these skills within apprentices, employers and practitioners - through the use of fully-realised resources - which would then go on to be developed at home, in the workplace and throughout apprenticeship programmes.
Apprentices - Build their confidence to explore functional skills while studying - which would then lead to understanding these skills, and developing them on their own at home, at college, and at work.
Practitioners - Build confidence in their teaching practice and experiment with different approaches - this would then lead to understanding the best methods to develop skills, and empowering teachers to develop their teaching practice on their own.
Employers - Build confidence to develop functional and coaching skills - which would then allow for an understanding of how best to encourage and embed these skills in the workplace.
What was the outcome?
Plumpton College enrolled a new group of students with Booker Wholesale, who have all trialed the Infographics during their induction into the apprenticeship. We have also given these widely to colleges, employers of apprentices, educational foundations, with a focus to improving the levels of functional skills within apprenticeships; but also to support and empower employers and practitioners to develop their own workforce's skills.
Both practitioners and employers agreed that outstanding practice must link with workplace practice,and most importantly that the embedded core skills should relate to industry tasks and knowledge. The Infographics were seen to be a good way of developing knowledge and understanding of employers and practitioners, and also of sharing best practices between institutions. Overall, this project has improved communication and networking between colleges, employers and crucially, apprentices which is an essential part of improving apprentices skills.