Effective Education for Employment- A Global Perspective

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This report is byJames Playfoot, Director of Strategy & Ideas, White Loop and
Ross Hall, Director of International, Edexcel

The aims of the Effective Education for Employment project are twofold:
• First, to identify the key challenges around developing talented, capable people to fulfil the workforce requirements of businesses and organisations worldwide.
• Second, to begin the process of addressing these challenges.
Consequently, this report represents a contribution to the debate and a starting point for further discussion and action.

The project is particularly interested in presenting an international comparison of some of the world’s fastest growing nations. The issues in these countries are, arguably, most acute. Not only is the pace of change creating unprecedented demand for skilled labour, but also these new economic powers are predominantly developing nations
who are facing significant challenges around reforming their education systems.
The concept of globalisation is often used to refer to the blurring of international economic boundaries and the increasing connectivity of the world’s economies. It seems now that professional education sits firmly within this paradigm.
While country-specific skills demands still exist, the focus of education is ever more on portable qualities that individuals can use in any job, in any sector, anywhere in the world. The irony is that in the knowledge economy, knowledge alone is not enough and, in fact, is less important than having the right attitude and understanding how to learn and how to behave. In one sense, the challenges for education are very much
social and are therefore culturally defined.
However, the overall picture of demand and need is remarkably similar across the world. And it is possible to characterise both a set of common issues (which we do below) and propose a series of actions to improve the impact education can have on the ability of a workforce to support and grow the economy. Considering the need for greater emphasis on soft skills –communication, leadership, critical thinking, confidence – it is perhaps at school that teaching these skills and attributes should begin.

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Effective Education for Employment- A Global Perspective

  1. 1. May 2008 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective By James Playfoot Director of Strategy & Ideas White Loop Ross Hall Director of International Edexcel
  2. 2. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective Contents Foreword 4 Note on language 6 Executive summary 7 Chapter 1: Our approach 11 Chapter 2: Context – the high level issues 15 Chapter 3: Findings – key global issues 20 Chapter 4: Findings – ideas for positive change 32 Chapter 5: The Ideal Employee 37 Chapter 6: Country report – Brazil 40 Chapter 7: Country report – China 47 Chapter 8: Country report – India 54 Chapter 9: Country report – South Africa 61 Chapter 10: Country report – United Arab Emirates 70 Appendix: Participants in provocation meetings 77 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 3
  3. 3. Foreword I can trace the roots of this report back to a single, illuminating day in early 2007. In my quest to find ways of improving education programmes, I had decided to visit a number of key countries to meet with government decision-makers, employers, educators and learners. My very first meeting in this tour was with the Minister of Education, who was very quick to tell me how bright his school and university graduates were. As our conversation progressed, however, he told me that too many high school graduates were not getting into university or into employment and that ‘vocational’ education was not considered a positive option by either employers or young people. Later, I met with the headmaster of a highly respected school who was very proud of his achievement – delivering a higher than average proportion of students to top universities, and showing great creativity in the use of curriculum and facilities to produce what he termed ‘well rounded, socially responsible’ children. Much of this work was inspiring and his students seemed like model citizens. However, very few ended up choosing a vocational education route. Finally, I met with the CEO of a key business for the region who told me about the challenges he faces in recruiting individuals who were ‘job- ready’ - especially from top universities – that too much focus is placed on academic study - and that, as a result, he was having to invest heavily in bringing new staff up to speed. These themes continued to feature heavily in meetings I had over the following weeks in quite different parts of the world. Everywhere I went, I discovered great examples of successful, progressive initiatives having real impact on individuals and businesses. However, I also felt that more could be done: there was clearly a need to reform education for employment programmes, improve quality and relevance and build stronger relationships between education and business. I decided to commission a piece of research to help crystallise, in my own mind, the issues; to put them in some sort of order; and to guide which problems I could practically address. Our first challenge was scope. Working with partners in around 100 countries and having a strong interest in around 25 of these - as well as wanting to capture the thoughts of governments, industry, educators and learners - we decided to conduct broad brush, sometimes informal, research in 25 countries and to focus heavily on 5 high growth economies in the hope that any commonalities we found there would be relevant everywhere. With a few minor exceptions, it would seem that almost all of our findings are relevant in some way to every country we have surveyed. Our second challenge was complexity – to engage people easily and stimulate debate, I developed the concept of the Ideal Employee. This is conceived as a practical, easily understood model that will resonate with 4 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  4. 4. people from government, industry, education and, of course, individual learners and employees. This has turned out to be highly successful and is covered in more depth in Chapter 5. I am happy to say that after much hard work and anxiety, the results of our research have proved to be wide-ranging, hugely stimulating and extremely useful – at the time of writing, we are using our findings to develop real-world, practical solutions to a number of the issues we have uncovered. However, realistically, we can never tackle all of the issues and there are some clear omissions from this report – for example, we have not covered issues around technology, educational facilities, funding or governance. Also, the ideas for positive change in Chapter 4 are far from comprehensive, being simply a collection of the principle ideas that were suggested by our respondents and some initial thinking of our own. Many of our findings beg more questions than suggest answers. For these reasons, I decided to make our research publicly available in the hope that it will stimulate thought, debate, further research and certainly positive action. I hope you find it useful. Ross Hall Director of International, Edexcel Ltd May 2008 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 5
  5. 5. Note on language One of the key challenges to emerge during the course of this project is that of language. With this in mind, we have constructed a taxonomy to use in this report that we hope will be adopted more widely to overcome these issues. Choosing words is never a precise activity and an element of personal preference is inevitable. We are also conscious that the terms we have chosen are all English words – the simple result of English being our native language. Specifically, we believe that the term ‘vocational’ often carries negative connotations and the phrase ‘vocational education and training’ is both cumbersome and seems to make a distinction between educational methods that is neither useful nor particularly easy to define. We have introduced the term ‘education for employment’ in the title of this report. However, this is, perhaps, also a little too cumbersome for general use. Instead, we have adopted the phrase ‘professional education’. While ‘professional’ is used by some people to denote education programmes that lead learners into certain ‘high status’ jobs such as law, accountancy, medicine etc, we don’t feel that this is very helpful and is, in some ways, divisive, contributing to the lower status of education programmes that are directed at ‘non-professional’ or ‘vocational’ jobs. In our view, any education programme that successfully delivers people with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours into gainful employment is as valid as any other and should be classed under the same name – ‘professional education’. We also found significant reference, throughout our research, to ‘soft’ or ‘employability’ skills. This, again, is problematic as there is no commonly accepted term or meaning to describe these particular attributes. Instead, we propose adopting the phrase ‘portable qualities’. This refers to qualities that can be used by an employee in any role with any employer in any industry in any country. In other words, qualities that are not specific to any sector, role or employer. 6 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  6. 6. Executive summary Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 7
  7. 7. Executive summary The aims of the Effective Education for Employment project are twofold: • First, we seek to identify the key challenges around developing talented, capable people to fulfil the workforce requirements of businesses and organisations worldwide. 6 in 10 employees • Second, we seek to begin the process of addressing these believe their challenges. academic and Consequently, this report represents a contribution to the debate and a professional starting point for further discussion and action. qualifications The basis of our findings is an integrated research project that has been prepared them for running for over six months. Our geographical focus is on five of the world’s fastest growing economies: Brazil, China, India, South Africa and work United Arab Emirates. This work is supported by significant engagement within the UK and informal discussions with individuals in 25 other Source: Edexcel Research 2008 countries. Interaction has been with the key stakeholders in this debate: governments, educators, employers, employees and learners. We have adopted a variety of research methodologies to inform our findings: face-to-face interviews, round table discussions, quantitative surveys, telephone interviews, online questionnaires and bulletin boards. Due to the scope of the project, and the complexity of the issues We will need addressed, it is difficult to briefly summarise our findings. However, it is better people in clear that there are key challenges around the following five areas: 10 years time; this • Increasing the quality, relevance, status and accessibility of professional education. will be about the • Creating stronger connections between business, education and demands of the government as a means of improving education design and delivery. market place • Developing better methods of assessing the quality of professional education provision and linking this to an internationally recognised Employer, Brazil framework. • Improving the way that ‘portable qualities’ are developed, nurtured and assessed and embed these into every level of education. • Creating better approaches to identifying, communicating and scaling up examples of best practice. Beyond this, we have summarised our findings in the following diagram. This identifies both the specific issues we face (developed further in Chapter 3 – key global issues), and some of the ways in which these issues might be addressed (expanded in Chapter 4 – ideas for positive change). 8 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  8. 8. Figure 1: Effective professional education: global challenges and possible solutions Economic Maximising Economic / policy impact educational cycle Workforce Education Education Assessment Progression requirements design delivery Globalising Employer Quality & Quality of Learning not Recruitment Low status of economy voice needs relevance of teaching assessed processes fail vocational amplifying programmes employers education Skills race No collective Assessment responsibility methods Difficulty in Programmes In-work Best practice ineffective defining not connected progression not shared / Pace of required not effective celebrated change Quality qualities assurance Teach people Inadequate standards to learn certification Learners Need to scale Increasing lacking misinformed up best competition practise Educate Learning not portable benchmarked Ineffective Increasing qualities more across in-work mobility Issues effectively borders education Increasing Educate expectations behaviours more effectively Poverty Improve basic education in schools Transform university education Develop Ideal Develop Revive & Instigate an New tools to Profile global Employee positive incentivise international empower education concept company apprentice- quality system learners successes cultures ships for towards more widely professional understanding Businesses to education employer take wider Build Teach Set up an needs responsibility relationship managers Institute of New methods for supporting between to become International for assessing skills issues business & educators & Professional strengths & within their educators incentivise this Education weaknesses industry of current staff Embed Govts. to Government teaching of legislate for funded portable business campaign to qualities into involvement tackle education in education negative Ideas perceptions of professional Redefine & Transform education communicate approaches definition of to teaching basic skills Expose teachers to Create business general skills environment curriculum & train them focussed on better ability to learn Instigate Code of Conduct for educators Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 9
  9. 9. What next? The issues we identify in this report, and the ideas we present are a starting point. Over the coming months, Edexcel will begin to address some of these issues by developing new products and services, building on existing relationships and further investigating how best to tackle the challenges we all face. Specifically, Edexcel will • Develop and communicate the concept of the Ideal Employee amongst businesses, policy makers and learners/employees. • Work towards better mechanisms for quality assuring qualifications globally. • Design education programmes that help educators develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed by business and industry worldwide. We welcome input and debate and relish the challenge ahead. Aptitude is something you can test but attitude is 100% to be seen after the interview Employee, India 10 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  10. 10. Chapter 1: Our approach Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 11
  11. 11. Chapter 1: Our approach Objectives This project is underpinned by a simple and singular premise: that education is not currently developing appropriately skilled workers in sufficient numbers to meet the demands of business and society. Following informal interviews in over 25 countries, it seems that this premise holds true for many parts of the world. The project set out to address the following questions: • Why it is that education is failing to meet the rising demand for skilled individuals? • What, specifically, are the key challenges facing businesses, governments, educators and individuals? • What needs to change in order to address the key challenges? • Can we identify the attributes and characteristics that form the Ideal Employee in the 21st century? • Can we articulate a positive vision for the future and describe pathways to get there? The project is particularly interested in presenting an international comparison of some of the world’s fastest growing nations. The issues in these countries are, arguably, most acute. Not only is the pace of change creating unprecedented demand for skilled labour, but also these new economic powers are predominantly developing nations who are facing significant challenges around reforming their education systems. By looking at these countries in detail, we can discover most about the demands of the new economy and can characterise the drivers for change. Five countries were chosen as a focus for the project: • Brazil • China • India • South Africa • United Arab Emirates Within each country, the project communicated with the key stakeholders in this debate: employers, employees, educators, learners and those involved in shaping policy. 12 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  12. 12. Methodology In order to gain the fullest picture of the realities within each target country, we adopted a range of methods and approaches. These are described below: Secondary research The project began with an extensive assessment, through secondary sources, of current thinking and approaches to professional education. The specific focus of this exercise was to analyse comparative studies of professional education globally and identify some of the key themes emerging from this analysis. This activity culminated in a secondary research report that informed the design of all subsequent research content. In addition, this study allowed us to identify a number of expert academics within this field who were consequently invited to participate in the project. International provocation series To enable us to engage with a wide range of leaders from business, education and policy, and to ensure that we received a cross-section of opinion, we instigated a series of round-table discussions, or provocations, in each of the five target countries. These took place between November 2007 and March 2008. Prior to the first of these events, a provocation meeting was held in London. This acted as a pilot, allowing us to test the format and approach for the meeting and shape the direction of subsequent discussions. This meeting also provided valuable input for the contextual picture described in the next chapter. Each provocation meeting involved between 10 and 15 individuals, drawn from a range of backgrounds, reflecting the different reference points through which the debate is filtered. Representatives from government and those responsible for making policy were joined by business leaders from corporations and small to medium sizes enterprises (SMEs) and individuals working within the education field, both in terms of education provision and academic study. Each meeting lasted around three hours and open and honest discussion was encouraged, with facilitators concentrating on capturing country- specific context and experiences. The findings from each meeting have formed the basis for much of the analysis within this report. Following the last of the international provocation meetings in Brazil, a second meeting was held in London to reflect on the initial findings and to add further input to the wider debate. The results of this meeting contributed significantly to the thinking in chapters 4, 5 and 6 of this report. All participants attended voluntarily. Overall, 85 people took part in the provocation series across six countries. A list of those attending each of the events can be found in the appendices at the end of this report. Primary research project To augment and support the findings from the international provocation series, a multi-stage research project was commissioned. Qualitative depth interviews were initially conducted in October, November and Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 13
  13. 13. early December 2007. This activity was augmented by quantitative and qualitative bulletin boards in February and March 2008. In addition, an extensive online quantitative survey of employers, employees, learners and training providers was carried out across the five target countries. Primary research was undertaken in three stages: Stage 1: A qualitative stage of 75 telephone or face-to-face depth interviews with employers, employees and training providers. Stage 2: A quantitative online study of 1723 respondents – respondents were screened to ensure they matched one of the following criteria: they worked for a company employing 250 or more staff; were decision makers within a private training company or university; were students pre-work. Online interviews were conducted with the following groups: • 514 employers • 530 employees • 165 training providers, including 38 universities • 514 learners Spread across the following countries: • 340 in Brazil • 346 in China • 349 in India • 350 in South Africa • 338 in UAE Each interview lasted between 15 and 30 minutes. Stage 3: An online bulletin board of approximately 100 participants was convened to further discuss key issues from the research. Results from this primary research project are integrated throughout this report, both in the generic findings and in the specific statistics and quotes that appear in the margins of each page. 14 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  14. 14. Chapter 2: Context – the high level issues Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 15
  15. 15. Chapter 2: Context – the high level issues The diagram below provides an overview of the global context within which this debate sits. Beneath that is an explanation of the key issues facing governments, educators, business/industry, and individuals. Irrespective of Figure 2: Global context the business 1 3 2 models they adopt Economic/ Where are Educational policy factors we now factors in response to ongoing global Global skills race change, the war for talent remains a key Globalising economy concern among CEOs worldwide, ranking second Unprecedented rates of only to a potential change Disconnect economic between industry downturn as the demand and DISCONNECT Education Shortage of Increasing education systems people with biggest threat to competition design struggling to the skills that meet industry industry business growth. Not enough needs needs businesses taking Employer, Brazil education Individuals role are increasingly mobile Poverty Individuals have increasingly high expectations 16 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  16. 16. Summary of contextual issues 1. Economic/policy factors 1.1 Globalising economy • The economies of the world are diverging – global outsourcing within the manufacturing and service sectors increasingly predominate. Businesses now see no boundaries to setting up wherever they think their interests will be best served. This process has seen the emergence of new economic powers. • The knowledge economy, and the emerging concept of the Only 50% of experience economy, require a workforce that has flexibility and creativity at its heart. employers provide learning • The demand for talented people has never been higher, and the opportunities for individuals and businesses never greater. & development certification which 1.2 Global skills race demonstrates levels • Many countries are involved in a ‘global skills race’ that will of competence determine economic fortunes in the foreseeable future and this race is intensifying. Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • The nature of skills demand is increasingly consistent – more and more, businesses and organisations worldwide are looking for the same type of people with a core set of portable qualities. 1.3 Unprecedented rates of change • There is widespread recognition amongst businesses and government that future economic success rests significantly on the ability of educators and industry to develop and nurture a highly flexible workforce. 2 in 10 current • Economic growth rates in China, India and Brazil are outstripping those of established economies by two or three times, creating employees significant challenges for education systems in these countries. acknowledge that their qualifications 1.4 Increasing competition did not prepare • With the intensity and scale of competition increasing rapidly, them for the job industry needs workers who excel in quality service provision, innovation and leadership. they do now • Organisations want to recruit work-ready employees and believe Source: Edexcel Research 2008 that the cost of recruiting, mis-recruiting, developing and retaining a competitive workforce inhibits their competitiveness. 1.5 Individuals are increasingly mobile • Significant challenges around moving a predominantly rural workforce from agricultural to industrial and knowledge-based activities in emerging economies like China and India. • Desire amongst many in emerging economies to experience study and work in other countries and a sense that there are no barriers to educational or professional mobility. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 17
  17. 17. • Increasing mobility of the workforce, coupled with the rapidity of change within particular roles or sectors, is creating demand for a more flexible, adaptable employee. 1.6 Poverty • Despite astonishing rates of economic growth, many emerging economies are still facing significant issues of poverty – for example, United Nations figures estimate that 21% of the population of Brazil is living beneath the poverty line. • Provision of access to education for all remains the goal but is still some distance away for many. • Unemployment is also high in many emerging economies – South 45% of employees Africa has seen significant economic growth but without this being matched by growth in employment. are receiving limited or very little 1.7 Individuals have increasingly high expectations training from their • Economic growth is funding the expansion of educational employer opportunity. This, in turn, is raising the expectations level amongst learners/employees – they want better jobs and faster progression. Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • Growth is also creating unprecedented employment opportunities and, in many countries, an expanding wealthy middle class who become the aspirational blueprint for those in work and those entering employment for the first time. 2. Educational factors 2.1 Disconnect between industry demand and education design • There is a disconnect between industry and educators that needs to be systematically addressed in order to improve the effectiveness of education programmes and increase collaboration around the Exam assessment delivery of these programmes. continues to • A relationship between course content and the world of work is be the most often lacking, particularly in academic (university) education. popular method • The imperative for employers to articulate what they need is of assessment accepted by all. – 73% learners • Beyond articulating demand, the need for business to engage in the design and delivery of professional education is vital. assessed through examination 2.2 Not enough businesses taking education role Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • Despite complaining of the ineffectiveness of educators, industry is not taking collective responsibility for education. • Not enough engagement with educators and work-related education programmes. • Business leaders are often sceptical towards the effectiveness of public initiatives and prefer to invest in their own solutions. • Generally not providing adequate in-work education. 18 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  18. 18. • Where in-work education is provided, this is done in isolation and is, therefore, not scaleable. • Not enough linking education to progression. 2.3 Education systems struggling to meet industry needs • While there are many examples of progressive and successful initiatives, by and large, systems of education are not effective in developing the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for modern employment. • Many countries are facing an ongoing struggle to provide access to basic education – in South Africa it is estimated that 70% of those leaving the education system lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Only 3 in 10 • Need to address basic education comes before the requirement to learners expect to develop the ‘higher’ skills required by business and industry. develop portable • Employers and industry are increasingly disillusioned with the quality qualities from and skills of those entering the job market following academic study. their studies – the • Perception of academic study as superior to professional education expectation is persists, particularly amongst learners and potential employees. that these will be developed when in 3. Where we are now work 3.1 Shortage of people with the skills that industry needs Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • There is a clear and significant shortage of appropriately skilled individuals to meet the demands of business and industry in most countries. • Governments in all major economic centres recognise the acute need for improving and expanding their professional education strategies. Only 6 in 10 • Technical knowledge and an ability to carry out a role remain key requirements. employees are satisfied with • Behaviours and attitudes needed to succeed in a commercial, service-oriented environment are seen as deficient. learning & • ‘Employability’ skills are increasingly on the agenda in the UK/ development they Europe and the US, and will inevitably be more in demand in the received from their global marketplace. employer • There is evidence to support the contention that middle and senior management roles are not being filled by appropriately skilled Source: Edexcel Research 2008 individuals, perhaps, in part, due to the speed of promotion that goes hand-in-hand with rapid economic growth. • Creativity and innovation are highly valued qualities that are ever more relevant to the modern business environment. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 19
  19. 19. Chapter 3: Findings – key global issues 20 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  20. 20. Chapter 3: Findings – key global issues The concept of globalisation is often used to refer to the blurring of international economic boundaries and the increasing connectivity of the world’s economies. It seems now that professional education sits firmly within this paradigm. While country-specific skills demands still exist, the focus of education is ever more on portable qualities that individuals can use in any job, in any sector, anywhere in the world. The irony is that in the knowledge economy, knowledge alone is not enough and, in fact, is less important than having the right attitude and understanding how to learn and how to behave. In one sense, the challenges for education are very much social and are therefore culturally defined. On the job However, the overall picture of demand and need is remarkably similar learning is the across the world. And it is possible to characterise both a set of common issues (which we do below) and propose a series of actions to improve backbone of most the impact education can have on the ability of a workforce to support employers’ training and grow the economy (which we do in chapter 4). programmes. It is Finally, we develop the definition of the ideal 21st century employee in used by 7 in 10 chapter 5 as one mechanism to catalyse change. employers Many good things are already happening, and it will be some time before the impact of policy changes, as well as business-led initiatives, Source: Edexcel Research 2008 will be known. However, new thinking, new ideas and new approaches are required. The global issues The diagram in Figure 3 gives an overview of the issues identified during our research and maps these to the various stages of economic and educational progression that typically exist within an economy. The detail around these challenges is then expanded upon. Discussion of key global issues The issues identified overleaf relating to economic policy are discussed in Chapter 2 – context. Further issues exist in the following areas: 1. Workforce Requirements 1.1 Need to amplify employer voice • There is, generally, a sense of scepticism from business leaders towards the nature and level of their involvement in professional education strategy and policies. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 21
  21. 21. Figure 3: Findings: global issues 1 2 3 4 5 6 Economic Maximising Economic / policy impact educational cycle Workforce Education Education Assessment Progression requirements design delivery Globalising Employer Quality & Quality of Learning not Recruitment Low status of economy voice needs relevance of teaching assessed processes fail vocational amplifying programmes employers education Skills race No collective Assessment responsibility methods Difficulty in Programmes In-work Best practice ineffective defining not connected progression not shared / Pace of required not effective celebrated change Quality qualities assurance Teach people Inadequate standards to learn certification Learners Need to scale Increasing lacking misinformed up best competition practise Educate Learning not portable benchmarked Ineffective Increasing qualities more across in-work mobility Issues effectively borders education Increasing Educate expectations behaviours more effectively Poverty Improve basic education in schools Transform university education • In some cases, there are simply not the mechanisms in place to facilitate this interaction. In others, the structures are seen as cumbersome, irrelevant or ineffective. • The need for industry to articulate what it needs and then to contribute to the design of any solution is starkly apparent. This should be policy-led and should involve significant initiatives aimed at generating impact across the board. • The example of Sector Education & Training Authorities (SETA) in South Africa is apposite in this context: many agree with the principle of sector-driven authorities. However, perceptions of the effectiveness of this set-up vary – in some sectors, the representative SETA is seen as proactive, dynamic and valued. In others, this is not the case. • If government and policy makers can provide the political and economic support for these initiatives, businesses certainly seem positive about contributing. • Those who manage this process most effectively will see long-term benefits accrue from having a policy driven by need and not by guesswork. 22 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  22. 22. 1.2 Difficulty in defining required qualities • Because of a fundamental disconnect between employers, government and education/educators, there are significant problems around communicating business needs and requirements. • However, before even that, there are issues around the specific definition of requirements with businesses ill-equipped to identify specific skills gaps. • Whilst employers often have an idea of the qualities and attributes they are looking for in an Ideal Employee, they more often than not fail to articulate this into a coherent vision. • Without clearer definitions of required qualities, education will struggle to meet demand and potential employees choosing educational pathways will do so without the benefit of knowing what sort of abilities and attributes they should be acquiring and developing. 2. Education design Skills gaps exist 2.1 Quality and relevance of programmes needs to improve for both new • Raising the standard, and, in particular, the relevance of course joiners and more content is paramount. experienced staff. • The issue is not, predominantly, one of availability. Many of the Gaps around training and education markets studied are vibrant. However, the leadership, quality and relevance of what the market delivers is inconsistent. teamwork and • Employers are increasingly sceptical of the value of qualifications in teaching individuals how to do a specific job. creativity and • There’s widespread acknowledgement that the pace of change innovation persist in industry is far outstripping the ability of policy or education and continue to systems to react. This means that education programmes are often outdated by the time the student has completed the course. present employers with difficulties • There are instances where courses in new niche areas are not actually available through public institutions. For example, the in training and Managing Director of a hugely successful animation studio in Delhi development explained that there are currently no publicly funded animation courses from which he can recruit. The education system is irrespective of constantly playing catch-up. experience level • Quality and relevance will only increase if there are structures in place to facilitate industry and business involvement in the design of Source: Edexcel Research 2008 curricula. 2.2 Programmes are not connected • As training and education markets become more fragmented and deregulated, education programmes increasingly lack relativity to one another not only internationally but within specific countries and even within certain sectors. • Furthermore, there is a trend towards businesses ‘doing their own thing’ in response to what they see as endemic failures in the education system. This increases the sense of disconnection. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 23
  23. 23. • This isolationism in the design of qualifications creates problems as individuals may find themselves learning the same thing more than once thereby wasting their, or their employers’, time and money. • This also impacts on an individual’s ability to plan their professional development as it becomes difficult to navigate an appropriate pathway through the ill-defined and disconnected educational landscape. 2.3 We are not teaching people how to learn • The ability to learn is both highly prized by employers and extremely valuable to individuals. • There is evidence that this is often an attribute that’s overlooked, difficult to teach or impossible to quantify. • If an individual lacks the facility or attitude to learn, there is only so far additional education and training can take them. When we hire, • As globalisation generates opportunities for talented individuals, a demonstrable ability to learn equates with adaptability, another key language and quality valued by employers in the knowledge economy. communication • How you teach people to learn, and how you then assess their skills are basics... ability to do so, are issues that need addressing urgently. and also a 2.4 Need to educate portable qualities more effectively person’s attitude • The issue of portable qualities and their role, now and in the future, and whether he dominated discussions in every country. is going to stay or • There is a need to address the language around this as there is no unified definition of what we mean by soft skills, particularly in not a global context. Some people referred to employability skills and some talked about job-ready skills. Employer, India • It is clear is that the mix of portable qualities needed is wide and varied and increasingly forms the basis of what constitutes an Ideal Employee. • Enthusiasm and capacity to learn; a positive, progressive attitude; a sense of responsibility – are seen as essential qualities, alongside more traditional soft skills – communication, leadership, team working. • The challenge is, in part, to do with the complexities of teaching and assessing these qualities. There is some debate around whether certain skills can even be taught at all, or should even be considered skills in the traditional sense – can you teach attitude or respect? The design and delivery of professional education programmes must reflect the need to address significant gaps in developing these qualities. • We need a better understanding of the way people learn portable qualities, and we need to develop more effective mechanisms for measuring the breadth and quality of an individuals’ portable qualities. • Employers everywhere rank attitude as a key factor when recruiting and developing staff. 24 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  24. 24. 2.5 Need to focus more on behaviours and attitudes • Employers everywhere highlighted their experiences of young people leaving education and entering work lacking a fundamental awareness of how they should behave and how important a positive attitude is in being an effective, productive employee. • There are some differences within this: in the UK and India expectations of what a job should give the individual – personally and financially – are, generally, extremely high and do not relate to levels of skill or experience. In South Africa and Brazil, expectations of entry-level positions tend to be much lower. However, attitude is still a key issue. • There is a sense that many young people entering work for the first time feel they have achieved enough simply by securing a job and are not motivated to work hard or to progress. For some, retaining their job is the limit of their ambition. • In China, loyalty and commitment to the company are cited as growing concerns for employers. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. Interestingly, many employees do not see themselves as lacking these qualities. Nearly 1 in 2 • The disconnect between what an employer considers a good employers say attitude and what that means to an employee/potential employee is significant. Perhaps this is partly about a lack of consensus between that staff employers and employees around common standards of behaviour, turnover is high but this also has to be seen as a reflection of social issues. Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • It is society as a whole – families, schools, communities – who have to take equal responsibility for encouraging and fostering more appropriate attitudes amongst those beginning their careers. 2.6 Need to improve basic education in schools • The quality and provision of primary and secondary education is paramount. Without an effective grounding in basic skills from a young age, the impact further or higher education can have in preparing appropriately skilled individuals for the world of work will be severely reduced. • The challenges around the quality and provision of basic education in the developing world are acute and it’s easy to forget, amongst talk of record growth and economic miracles, that many of the world’s fastest growing economies are still fighting a huge battle against poverty and providing educational opportunity for all. • The rewards of economic prosperity are already fuelling huge investment in basic education across the world. While the social imperatives for sustaining and increasing this investment are undeniable, the long-term impact on the quality and size of the workforce will be profound. However, it will be years, if not decades, before the impact of this investment is discernable. 2.7 Need to transform university education • While there remain notional and real divisions between the ‘academic’ world and the ‘vocational education’ world, these distinctions are increasingly unhelpful or even misleading. • Many universities now teach what may be considered ‘vocational’ Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 25
  25. 25. degrees (as well as continuing to provide the majority of entrants to the traditional ‘professions’ – doctors; lawyers etc). However, the quality and content of these courses is often poor and needs to be transformed. • There should be an attempt to influence the curricula of diploma and degree courses everywhere so that they include some element of portable qualities teaching. • Pure academic study is not irrelevant, rather the reality is that many graduates do not, during the course of their studies, develop the basic portable qualities so sought after by employers. 3. Education delivery 3.1 Quality of teaching should be improved • If the quality and effectiveness of professional education is to There is a training improve, the ability and the methods of teachers and trainers needs to be addressed. culture now in • Although there are many examples across the world of great India and in the teachers delivering quality content in dynamic and engaging ways, next ten years it the demand for good teachers that accompanies rapid economic growth and the broadening of access to education is not being met will be very big. and the quality of learning is suffering as a consequence. Training Provider, India • Many countries are aware of the need to invest in this – Brazil is pursuing a significant programme of upskilling teaching staff. However, more needs to be done. • There is a need to reform teaching methods, particularly in relation to professional education. Reliance on a traditional teaching approach – class-based learning by rote – prevails. • Activities within the classroom setting should be focussed more on engaging and involving learners in experiential activities. • There needs to be significantly greater opportunities for interaction between learners and employers. This could take many forms but must lie at the heart of professional education. 3.2 Responsibility for education delivery should be shared • An exchange during the provocation meeting held in South Africa provided an illuminating insight into a critical issue: one voice stated that it was not the job of schools to prepare people for work. This was swiftly rebuked by another who said that it was not the job of businesses to give people an education. The answer, it seems, lies somewhere in the middle. • For education to begin to meet the needs of the world’s economies, business and industry have to play a significant role in delivery. The reality is that the vast majority of businesses, from corporations to SMEs, are already having an impact on the education of their own staff and, to a lesser degree, their future workforce. • The nature of this involvement is complex and varied. In many instances, the participation of business is voluntary. There are places – Brazil for example – where business participation in 26 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  26. 26. education is written into legislation. Elsewhere, many companies are assuming significant responsibility for educating their own workforce because they see the education system as ineffective and have little faith it will change in the near future. The only way to get the workforce they want is to build it themselves. • This is creating a parallel system – one where publicly funded initiatives operate in isolation from private/corporate education programmes. • Within this, the emerging trend is for professional education to start at the point when a candidate begins working for an organisation. The education received by the new employee prior to recruitment is sometimes disregarded or viewed as largely irrelevant. • The growth of corporate universities and institutes demonstrates this new reality – businesses are effectively replacing the education system with their own solutions. • The quality of business-led training is, in some cases, considered to be high. As it’s happening in-house, learners often receive greater access to real world experiences. It is also theoretically much easier for a business to design and then fine-tune their own course content 1 in 4 employers to ensure relevance. admit that it is • Although quality can be high, the impact on the wider education system is negligible as this approach is happening predominantly in difficult to recruit isolation the education and training offered at a corporate level is the right staff often seen as part of a company’s competitive edge. Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • Although the education and training that individuals receive within company walls does feed the skills pool, the lack of cooperation within sectors mitigates against greater achievements in this area. • It is only by finding economic and practical models for sharing the responsibility for professional education that the requisite impact will be felt. 3.3 Quality assurance standards are lacking • In an increasingly fragmented marketplace, the need for recognised quality standards is greater than ever. • As course quality and teaching methods improve, quality assurance becomes vital in promoting good practice and rewarding those who offer genuinely effective education programmes. • Quality assurance is as much an issue for the learner or employee as it is for employers: the learner needs to know where they can best spend their time in education and the employer needs to have a better understanding of the value of professional qualifications. 3.4 In-work education programmes are often ineffective • Research results show that the gaps that exist in an individual’s skill set when they start work tend to still be in evidence some years later. This suggests that many in-work education programmes are failing to deliver effective skills development. • In some cases, the reason for persistent skills gaps is that many employers provide little or no education to their staff. Some employers see it as the role of the individual to up-skill themselves. Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 27
  27. 27. • Part of the problem lies in the fact that there are not currently effective measurement techniques in place to identify where an individual is in terms of their skills needs. • There is also evidence to suggest that many in-work education programmes are not linked to effective or validated assessment models, even if the quality of the learning may, in some cases, be high. 4. Assessment 4.1 Learning is not being effectively assessed • It is only by assessing the effectiveness and impact of learning that an individual can understand what they have learnt and appreciate where it is they should go next with their education. • In many cases, education and training is provided within a work We will need context and in an informal way. Consequently, no assessment of learning is carried out. Although this does not inherently reduce the better people in impact of the learning, assessment provides a vital mechanism for 10 years time; this measurement and grading. will be about the • Even within structured training programmes, learning itself (or rather what has been learnt) is not directly assessed. This relates to demands of the the next point. market place. 4.2 Assessment methods need to improve Employer, Brazil • Currently, there are significant challenges around the way in which learning achievements are assessed with particular gaps in terms of practical assessment. • There need to be better mechanisms for businesses to assess the current strengths and weaknesses of their employees to support more effective development and progression. • Particular focus should be given – for both learners and employees – to developing more appropriate and effective ways of assessing portable qualities. 4.3 Certification is inadequate • In too many cases, certification is not representative of a particular level of competence but is simply proof of attendance or, at best, an indication of an ability to pass an exam. • Often, learning is not certified at all – particularly within the context of in-work education programmes, many courses are not certified (or are not accredited by a recognised body). This makes it difficult for the employee or learner to prove what they have learnt. • Employers still value certification as a way of understanding or measuring competence but they are losing faith in many certificates – too much certification currently has little perceived value to the employer. 4.4 Learning is not benchmarked across boarders 28 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective
  28. 28. • The increased mobility of workers has created a need for more meaningful international standards of accreditation and certification. • Within certain businesses, staff can be moved between countries but country-specific technical requirements sometimes force employees to retrain locally to receive the qualification they need in order to practice, in spite of the fact that they may be perfectly well-qualified to do the job. • This is also an issue of progression for employees – as more individuals cross international boundaries to work, they want to be able to take their qualifications with them and ensure that they will hold value wherever they go. • Additionally, there is a need to develop ways of benchmarking the qualifications of one provider against those of another. 5. Progression 5.1 Recruitment processes are failing employers The majority of • As the value and importance of portable qualities increases, employers find it and the workforce becomes ever more mobile, the way in which difficult to assess organisations recruit staff must change. candidates’ soft • One of the principle problems facing many businesses currently is that they find it extremely difficult to assess the level of portable skills and therefore qualities an individual has during recruitment. find it most difficult • This is, in part, down to a paucity of relevant and respected to find candidates qualifications that effectively teach and assess these sorts of with appropriate qualities. leadership skills, • There is also a legacy of out-dated recruitment methodologies. able to multi-task • Many businesses rate the ability to work in a team as one of the most valuable skills a new recruit can have. However, very few have and with the a clear idea of how to assess this quality at interview. The most right level of common approach to assessing the ability an individual has to work in a team is to ask them directly whether they feel that they commitment to work well in a team. The answer one receives to this question is, the role arguably, of little or no value. Source: Edexcel Research 2008 • Some organisations have developed more sophisticated practical interview procedures that allow them to get a much fuller picture of the characteristics and traits an individual would bring to a role. However, these examples are the exception and tend to happen in larger businesses with the resources to support such an approach. • If organisations are to make the most of the talent that exists, they must develop better ways of understanding and assessing the qualities a candidate possesses. 5.2 In-work progression is not effective • Currently employers are not providing their employees with effective mechanisms to articulate and map their job progression. This is having a negative impact on professional education choices. • There is a paucity of formally recognised professional development Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective 29
  29. 29. planning taking place within businesses – employees often feel left alone to identify what educational options they should take. • Professional education within work is, as a consequence of the ineffective (or non-existent) frameworks currently in place, struggling to match the expectations or aspirations of either employer or employee. • A more considered framework, supported by better assessment methodologies, may significantly increase the relevance and impact of employees’ professional education activity. 5.3 Learners are not adequately informed • Due, in part, to a disconnect between education and industry, there are growing problems around the poor choices learners are making in regard of their educational progression. • Without a steer from business, there are certain areas of study that, in relation to job opportunities, are hugely oversubscribed leaving too many qualified individuals fighting for a small number of jobs. • There are many examples of learners pursuing what they believe to be a high-potential educational pathway only to discover that their qualification has little or no perceived value in the labour market. • The value of specific qualifications is often related to the issue of relevance. However, whilst employers may be aware of the relevance of specific qualifications, learners often are not and can find themselves without the necessary applicable knowledge when they start work. • There should be better generic advice about the direction in which an individual should travel if they want to become a successful employee, and more specific advice within certain sectors about the quality and relevance of the various qualifications available. 6. Maximising impact 6.1 Professional education has a low status • Despite the reality, clearly articulated by business and industry, that academic study does not address the skills needs of modern economies or adequately prepare people for the workplace, learners persist in the belief that an academic education is of greater value than professional qualifications. • Standards of content and teaching must be raised in order to change the perception of professional education as second class. • In emerging economies, where educational opportunity is still more of a privilege than a right, learners automatically look towards the top of the educational ladder and will seek to secure a place at the best academic institution they can. This fulfils their own aspirations and those of their family. • The common perception is that professional (vocational) study is where you end up if you cannot make it academically. • Perceptions of the value of professional education should focus on the knowledge, skills and behaviours learnt during the course and 30 Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective

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