CWL Project Final Report to HEFCE 2012

A Collaborative Solution
to Employer Demand:
The Centre for Work and
A final report on progress submitted to
September 2012
Report prepared by Viki Faulkner, Sussex Learning Network Director, on behalf of
the SLN Board
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Summary of Key Outputs
2.1 The Aims of the Centre
2.2 How the project Achieved its Aims
3. Examples of Achievement and Case Studies
4. Impact of the Project
4.1 Culture Change and the project impact on Employers, Employees
and the Institutions
4.2 Sustainability Beyond the HEFCE Funded Period
4.3 Developing Institutional Quality Assurance Systems
4.4 Accreditation of Prior Learning and In-house Training
4.5 Dissemination of Project Outcomes
5. Financial Information
5.1 Summary of Spend against Original Budget
5.2 Will all HEFCE Funding be used as Planned
5.3 Changes to the Risk Status During the Project
5.4 Co-funding, In Cash and In Kind
5.5 The Relative Costs of Engaging Employers
6. External Engagement
6.1 Engaging with non-HEI/FEC Partners
6.2 Train to Gain
7. Lessons Learnt
7.1 Key Learning Points Arising from the Project
7.2 Particular Challenges and Unintended Consequences
7.3 Was the Model used for Employer Engagement Successful?
7.4 Advice to Institutions Seeking to Increase Employer Contributions
8. Wider Issues
8.1 Impact of the Economic Downturn
8.2 Impact on Institutional Strategic Developments
8.3 Equality and Diversity
Appendix A: Note from Internal Audit Service and Self Certification Report
Centre for Work and Learning: Final Report
1. Introduction
The Centre for Work and Learning project: ‘A collaborative solution to employer
demand’, began in May 2009 and came to the end of its funded period at the close of
July 2012. The project built on the strong foundations established by the Sussex
Learning Network through the Lifelong Learning Network funded period. It aimed to
‘make a differential impact across Sussex and one that will enable each institution to
refine its own approach to workforce development’1, supporting the nine partners of
the Centre for Work and Learning (CWL) as they worked to shape and establish their
own higher education employer engagement strategy.
The project provided a staffing resource, additional student numbers and capacity
building funding for each institution. It created a collaborative network, led by a small
central team, to support the partners, drawing out the collaborative learning from the
demonstrator projects and providing a forum for exchange of best practice. Focused
on the delivery of accredited CPD to meet the local and regional workforce
development agenda; the project had three main themes:
Trialling and testing new markets
Curriculum remodelling
Transformational change
In its final year it added a fourth theme:
Enhancing and Enriching workforce development
The CWL project has not been funded, or resourced, in a way that would allow it to
undertake a fundamental ‘root and branch’ review, resulting in wholesale institutional
change, of any single institution. This is the approach that has been evident in many
of the parallel HEFCE funded Employer Engagement projects. The Centre for Work
and Learning aimed to build the capacity of its nine partner institutions, supporting
them in the development of their own strategies and to identify areas of synergy
where partnership working can provide increased benefits for all. Through building
capacity in a range of different institutions, we aimed to increase capacity for
workforce development across the whole of Sussex.
The original partners of the CWL project were: University of Brighton (Lead partner
and accountable to HEFCE for the project), University of Chichester, University of
Sussex, Open University in the South East (a capacity building but not delivery
partner), Chichester College, City College Brighton and Hove, Northbrook College,
Sussex Coast College Hastings, Sussex Downs College. Later phases of the project
A Collaborative Solution to Employer Demand: the Centre for Work and Learning, Bid submitted to
HEFCE Sept 2008, p6 1.6
also incorporated work at East Surrey College and Central Sussex College, to reflect
a focus on raising the presence of Higher Education in the Gatwick Diamond.
2. Summary of key outputs
2.1 The Aims for the Centre were to:
 build the capacity of the partners to deliver workplace and work related
learning across the curriculum
 develop new provision to meet the needs of the workforce in Sussex and
the South East
 work with and through employers to build a curriculum that is both
relevant and sustainable
 deliver the new provision through co-funded ASNs that will be supported
by employer contributions
 plan and deliver a programme of accredited staff development for all
those involved in learning at work
 maintain a research forum for workplace learning that is the basis for
publication and sharing good practice
 work alongside the SVPA Progression and Credit Service to develop new
ways of accrediting workplace learning so that it supports progression into
and through higher education
2.2 The project achieved its aims by:
 Working across a network of four HEIs and seven FE Colleges
 Providing an extensive programme of staff development events which
engaged 470 staff from across the network.
 Producing a community of practice for those leading the activities of the CWL
on behalf of their institutions
 Developing and delivering 28 new demand led courses from Masters level to
Level 4
 Producing a modular curriculum including more than 50 stand-alone CPD
courses offered across the partnership
 Building three new framework qualifications to improve timeliness of response
in meeting employer demand for bespoke training programmes
 Delivering courses for 698 employer sponsored learners
 Taking HE out into the workplace by providing 280 free places at taster
events to celebrate Learning at Work Day
 Delivering 232.5 full time equivalent co-funded ASNs
 3,400 initial employer contacts through the project
 Working with 1,509 employers
 Delivering courses for 99 employers
 Generating £1,029,066 in cash contributions from employers and more than
doubling this with in kind contributions
 Accredited programme of staff development which included new modules in
‘Developing Digital Literacy’ and ’Teaching HE in FE’
Developed a new set of guidelines for managing the accreditation of prior
experiential learning across Sussex
Expanding the use of the ReQTM quality kite mark through 20 new projects
including commercial companies and those outside of the Health Sector
Producing 370 enhanced progression pathways for workplace learners,
including new progression agreements for Advanced Apprentices looking to
access HE
Supporting the roll out of the first Higher Apprenticeships in Sussex at Sussex
Downs College
3. Provide some examples to evidence achievement – such as examples of
employers worked with and co-funded courses delivered.
A key focus of the project was to create a new curriculum offer that was tailored to
respond directly to employer needs.
Further Education College partners each identified their own areas of sector
specialism at the start of the CWL initiative and a cross cutting theme of leadership
and management was threaded throughout and enhanced through the University
offers. City College Brighton and Hove chose to focus on providing courses for the
Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism sector; Northbrook College focused on Health and
Social Care and the Creative Industries; Sussex Downs College focused on Sport,
Education and Complimentary Healthcare; Sussex Coast College Hastings focused
on ICT and Engineering; Chichester College and the University of Chichester worked
together to create a joint offer in Business and Management and the Universities of
Brighton and Sussex focused on aspects of Leadership and Management. The Open
University in the South East provided support for the development of e-learning
pedagogies. Partners were encouraged to adopt a system of brokerage between
institutions that enabled each to play to existing strengths whilst limiting competition
and reducing unnecessary duplication of existing offers.
The combination of partners and approaches provided a wide range of demonstrator
projects illustrating aspects of work undertaken with employers. A small number of
these projects are provided as case studies below. More can be accessed via the
Case Study 1: FDM, University of Brighton and MSc Applied Computer Science
- building a new post graduate programme around a company training scheme
IT Services specialist FDM was keen to enhance its in-house training programme by
providing a recognised qualification for its Software Development employees. So it
called in the University of Brighton to assist in developing the programme.
Brighton-based FDM is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of IT consultants, with an
impressive list of international clients including the BSkyB HSBC and Swiftcover. The
firm offers a two-year placement programme to high-quality graduates looking at a
career in IT consultancy – and it was a qualification for its Software Developers that
the company wanted to create.
In close collaboration with FDM, the university started by identifying the learning
objectives from the company’s current training scheme, then undertook a full, critical
review to establish the suitability for use in an MSc, making some useful observations
about the existing programme along the way. To do this, the existing programme was
mapped against the Quality Assurance Agency’s qualifications framework, to
determine its validity as a Higher Education provision at Masters level.
The university also set out to establish exactly what the required learning outcomes
were and helped tease out some additional objectives that were crucial to the
success of the programme.
Once all this information had been assimilated, the university collaborated with FDM
to develop and validate a work-based MSc programme in applied computer science
that would exceed FDM’s expectations.
The resultant validation at MSc level added a great deal of value and made it more
attractive to employees, and additional exits were created at postgraduate Certificate
and Diploma levels – making the programme adaptable to different employees
working at different levels in the organisation.
The programme enrolled its first cohort in 2011 and is now an established feature at
FDM. The university and FDM are currently developing a further masters programme
aimed at the company’s project analyst stream.
“This partnership is hugely exciting for both the university and FDM. We are passionate about
training graduates to kick-start their careers within IT and we will continue to encourage graduates
to pursue a career in the IT sector”
Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer, FDM
Case Study 2: Development of new Health and Care Modular Courses
Sussex Downs College has been working with local Health and Social Care
employers to develop three new specialist ‘Learning Champions’ modules at level 4.
The modules, validated by the University of Brighton, have each been developed with
a key employer lead and have been designed with the intent that much of the
delivery will be off site and based in employer premises. Examples include the 10
credit module in ‘Pressure Ulcer Management’, delivered at the Wound Healing
Centre in Eastbourne, and the module in ‘End of Life Care’ delivered at St Wilfrid’s
Hospice. The three new modules, first piloted in Spring 2012, complement the
existing CWL offer at Northbrook College, where two cohorts of Learners have
already completed their studies in ‘Person Centred Care’. Skills for Care, the sector
skills council for this area of work, have praised the project for working collaboratively
to extend the CPD offer for advanced practitioners across Sussex
"There are very flat career structures in social care, and courses such as this open up specialist
practitioner routes. We need more advanced practitioners in dementia care."
Karen Stevens, regional development officer at Skills for Care, the skills council for the social care
Case Study 3: MSc Highway Engineering at the University of Brighton – a new
Post graduate programme developed to meet employer demand
This course aims to develop competent and innovative highway engineers, enabling
them to lead, manage, design and deliver sustainable highways for the future. It has
been developed at the request of a consortium which includes seven local authorities
and their main contractors within the South-East region, to meet their strategic
workforce needs.
With two intakes per year, the programme is primarily work-based with intensive
periods of study spent at the university. Secondments between sponsoring
organisations are used to further enhance learning opportunities.
The course has been developed through an interesting blend of top-down design
driven by the Employers with a long term strategic view; bottom up design pushed by
some of the organisation representatives with a ‘content’ perspective; and careful
management by the university to ensure delivery of a cohesive programme suitable
for validation. The full integration of the employers within the development process,
coupled with the utilisation of high level experts within the sector to deliver significant
elements of the course, enables this MSc to be fully relevant to the sector,
consistently up to date with current thinking, able to deliver rapid returns to the
employer, and enhance the career prospects of the learners. It is the only course of
its type currently available for Highways Engineers and is now in its second intake.
Case Study 4: University of Chichester and Cameron Measurement Systems Tailoring Foundation Degree provision to create a bespoke programme
When engineering firm Cameron Measurement Systems needed a foundation degree
programme tailored individually to improve the management skills of its staff, the
University of Chichester provided all the flexibility it was looking for.
A leading provider of flow-measuring products and services to the global oil and gas
industry, Cameron found itself needing to improve its employees’ leadership and
project management skills in order to improve business performance.
To this end it had been in several discussions with private training providers, none of
whom was able to provide the tailored service Cameron was looking for. Then the
company met with the University of Chichester to discuss the possibility of a bespoke
training programme.
In talks with the university’s School of Enterprise and Leadership, Cameron was able
to identify its Foundation Degree in Management as the option that most closely met
requirements – in particular the programme’s work-based assignments, which
Cameron realised would benefit the managers’ learning from the outset.
Cameron selected five modules from the degree course that held particular relevance
to their needs, and created a programme that was completely appropriate to their
trainees – incorporating an introduction to management, project management,
strategic management, personal development planning and personal leadership. The
programme was set up to be delivered at the university’s Bognor Regis campus over
a period of twelve months.
Cameron enrolled an initial four members of staff to undertake the newly developed
course – and its suitability and success were noticeable almost straight away. These
four staff members have now completed the course and are already turning their new
knowledge to practical benefit.
The module choice offered by the University enabled us to select and design the course around
the needs of our business which was a very attractive attribute and major contributing factor in our
selection process.
Bruce Hollobone, General Manager - EAME, Measurement Systems, Cameron Group
Case Study 5: Employers on an Industrial Site come together to create a
solution to Sustainable Waste Management
The University of Brighton has been working with employers on the Manor Royal
Estate in Crawley to create a CPD course in Environmental Sustainability and Waste
Management. Driven by the companies there, and backed by Crawley Borough
Council, the Manor Royal Business Company and others, the University has worked
with 30 companies on the estate who intend to be the first industrial estate to
aggregate their waste streams and collectively agree a waste contract. This bespoke
CPD course will help them to create it. It is already attracting interest from other
companies who are keen to see if the course will work for them also.
Case Study 6: Sussex Coast College Hastings and Beaming – Specialist
training on your doorstep
Beaming is a niche internet and telecoms service provider whose customer base
comprises of businesses across the UK but manages its services from St Leonards
on Sea. A busy organisation, it was faced with a dilemma: how to train its staff in
higher-level computer networking without causing a large amount of disruption to
their working routines.
Beaming’s managing director wanted the company’s team to receive practical
training, delivered locally, with a minimum of hours lost. Not only this but they wanted
a "holistic" approach to the course content, degree-level learning, and delivered
during a combination of office hours and the employees’ own time – to demonstrate
the commitment both of the company and its staff to training and professional
Happily for Beaming, Sussex Coast College was able to provide everything they
required. The college has Cisco Networking Academy status – meaning that it can
provide employers with an assurance of quality in its teaching, and putting it in a
perfect position to fulfil Beaming’s specific training requirements. In fact, SCCH
specifically created a relevant course that involved theory and practical work, and
workshops based on real-life scenarios – exactly the "holistic" curriculum Beaming
In response to Beaming’s request, the first module of the programme was delivered
flexibly and took up one afternoon and one evening a week over 11 weeks. Students
were able to use online training material for further home-based study, tests and
practical work, while college-based learning was delivered via a combination of
lectures, demonstrations, hands-on tasks and simulations of feasible scenarios using
state-of-the-art Cisco software.
Now well established at the college, the course teaches students how to install and
operate a small-scale enterprise network, and is designed to develop critical thinking,
decision-making, team-working and problem-solving skills. Its breadth and scope
make it a Higher Education CPD qualification that also maps to the CCNA (Cisco
Certified Network Associate) curriculum.
The flexibility shown by SCCH in delivering the course has led to an ongoing
partnership with Beaming that demonstrates the high value and advantages of
flexibility, sympathetic collaboration and institutional commitment.
The quality of the higher level course is such that it provides a fuller, holistic view of IT and
supports practical application, which the employee can implement in their daily work. To have
access to this kind of training within such a short distance from our work place is fantastic.
Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director, Beaming
Case Study 7: Chichester College and the University of Chichester – a
collaboration to improve digital literacy
The aim of this new module was to build the capacity of College and University Staff
by developing the skills of lecturers to utilise the technology available to create more
blended learning approaches to their teaching.
Two new modules, offered as stand-alone CPD, were developed and jointly delivered
by e-learning experts from the University of Chichester and Chichester College. The
first group of 20 students, all current education practitioners, finished their course in
May 2012 and a second cohort is already in place to begin in September.
To encourage progression and continuous professional development, students who
successfully complete one of these modules can carry their credit forward into a full
award. The level 4 module is now also offered as part of the Foundation Degree
Teaching and Learning, and the level 7 sits within the Masters programme, MA
(Education) at the University of Chichester.
4. Impact of the project
4.1 What do you consider the impact of the project has been on
employers, employees and the institution itself? What have been the
tangible benefits for these groups, and others? How, if at all, has the
culture of the institution changed in relation to its work with
Over the lifetime of the project, we have begun to see a shift in attitude to employer
engagement. CWL Leads across institutions have reported a greater awareness
amongst academic staff with whom they have worked of the need to become more
commercially aware.
The CWL project placed a big emphasis on new curriculum offers being planned and
costed to ensure financial viability and, therefore sustainability. It became apparent
during the project that this approach has been a new venture for many, and the CWL
undertook a number of activities to raise awareness amongst staff of how to cost
delivery, raising awareness of the importance of identifying cost vs price to enable
courses to be priced according to market demand.
A costing ‘Toolkit’ was produced in the first months of the project to support the CWL
Leads with this activity in their institutions and partners found this useful. It has now
been adopted as a formal part of the planning process for all new HE short courses
at Sussex Downs College.
The project has created a greater awareness of the importance to business of
‘professional’ qualifications. Both the University of Chichester and Brighton now
have accreditation to offer CMI Level 5 in a way that is linked with their own existing
awards, allowing a Learner to achieve not only the professional award but also
building HE credit.
The University of Brighton recognised that greatest risk it faced was losing the
innovations in workforce development that had been created through the initial
investments of dedicated time and resources from the CWL project. In recognition of
this, the University has chosen to consolidate its activities and build on the learning of
the CWL funded project through the creation of a new, dedicated Training and
Development Unit.
The CWL project invested significant time and resource into undertaking a number of
detailed research projects to firmly establish the local workforce development needs
in a number of key sectors. Work included the Northbrook College project on the
paralegal sector, the East Surrey College project on Salon Managers, the University
of Brighton’s project on the construction sector, the Chichester project on the Sales
Management sector and the research on the spa sector undertaken by Sussex
Downs College and Sussex Coast College Hastings.
In each case, the reports provided useful labour market intelligence that allowed
providers to shape their curriculum offers to meet the demands. However, the
benefits of this work went further. Moving the mindset of staff towards an intelligenceled school of curriculum development was a really positive outcome of this type of
activity and one that was commented on by several of the CWL Leads. A typical
comment from one of the institutional reports is: “The key successes of the CWL for
us have been the impact on how the College approaches curriculum development
and a growing understanding of the value of employer research” Gill Short, Sussex Downs
4.2 Provide information on the sustainability of activity beyond the
HEFCE funding period. What will be sustained and how will this be
Many of the activities of the partnership, with regard to employer engagement and
workforce development, have been embedded within partner institutions and these
activities will continue beyond the funded period of the project.
During the project, new curriculum has been developed in response to employer
needs. These new courses remain as an integral part of the offer of the partners of
the CWL. No curriculum delivery has been sponsored through the use of capacity
building funding and, as such, this offer has been designed with the intention of
becoming self sustaining beyond the end of project funding.
New rounds of recruitment are currently underway for the modular Health and Social
Care curriculum, the Graduate Certificate in Management and the Foundation
Degree Management, where some of the modules have now been able to move to a
full cost model. Transition funding, provided by HEFCE to ensure the continuation of
accredited provision in the move to a full cost environment, will be used by the
partnership to provide a voucher scheme to incentivise employers to continue to
invest in staff development. The vouchers will be targeted at Private sector
employers and will be used to support CWL programmes that have not yet been able
to transition to full cost recovery models.
The MBA, developed at the University of Sussex as part of the CWL project, is a
good illustration of the sustainability of the curriculum created. It continued to recruit
and run in 2011-12, despite the university no longer having a dedicated CWL
resource attached and it will continue to run once the CWL project is concluded. Two
new Education modules, developed through a partnership between the University of
Brighton and Sussex Downs College, were delivered as post qualification CPD
courses in 2010-11. They will be delivered again and, from 2012-13, the modules will
become embedded in the suite of optional modules available to Institutions delivering
the University validated Post Compulsory Initial Teacher Training qualifications.
The flexible framework qualifications of the Foundation Degree Management at the
University of Chichester, The MSc Management Practice and the Graduate
Certificate in Management at the University of Brighton, have provided a solid basis
on which to be able create bespoke accredited employer responsive courses, in a
timely manner.
Work with the Priory Group and FDM to provide accreditation routes for their inhouse training schemes has produced long-term relationships with both companies.
Initial funding was used to undertake detailed curriculum reviews which necessitated
a significant investment of Academic time. Now that the initial phase work has been
completed, both initiatives are steadily and regularly enrolling new learners via the
University of Brighton. The relationships with both companies are well established
and sustainable.
Although CWL staff have been funded by the project, it has always been our policy
that they worked with and through mainstream members of staff within their own
organizations. This ensured that the legacy of the CWL project is left within each
institution once the funding for an extra post has finished. In a number of cases the
post of CWL Lead has now been mainstreamed. CWL capacity-building funding has
offered partners the chance to test out employer engagement activities whilst limiting
their exposure to risk. Staff development events have been provided, reaching a
wide number of mainstream staff across our institutions, helping to spread the bestpractice examples from within the partnership and from across other national and
regional initiatives. This has all ensured that the learning from within the project will
not be lost once the project team are disbanded, but that the learning becomes
embedded within Schools and Faculties, where it can be taken forward appropriately.
4.3 Provide information on the development of the institution’s quality
assurance systems, and if they are able to respond effectively to
workforce development activity that is co-funded by HEFCE.
Existing admissions and enrolment processes were quickly identified as one of the
potential barriers to the delivery of a timely and responsive system for employer
demand-led CPD.
All three University partners identified systemic issues around the enrolment of nonstandard year learners. The main challenge was that internal systems have been set
up to deal with a specific set of actions which happen at specific times of the year,
usually the beginning of the academic year, which by de facto do not lend
themselves to non-standard learners, such as someone attempting to register on a
single module, beginning in February. Other examples included the difficulty on ‘roll
on roll off’ type programmes that the existing systems had, in accepting that not all
students may start and finish at the same time. Standard systems also struggled to
cope with non-standard pricing, where fees may vary between employers as a
consequence of additional contributions in kind. We also came across instances
where automatic systems meant that Learners received demands for payment where
an employer had already been invoiced.
Difficulties with enrolment, when they happen, lead not only to a poor customer
experience but can also have a more fundamentally negative effect on the learning
experience. Students must be enrolled before they can access library services such
as on-line journals. When students are engaged in short cycle learning experiences,
or are studying at a distance, then the timeliness of enrolling students onto the
system becomes critical. It was, therefore important for the project to look at this
aspect as part of the transformational change agenda however, the CWL was never
resourced in a way that would enable it to undertake a fundamental ‘root and branch’
change management programme in any one institution. Instead, each individual
university used the CWL project to review the processes in place and to trial methods
that would improve the process for this learner group.
The Universities of Brighton and Chichester both recognised that the existing system
of splitting up the processes for admission, enrolment and registration lead to an
onerous burden of form filling and duplication. Whilst this remained appropriate and
important for those undertaking longer programmes of study, it did not always seem
to be fit for purpose for shorter courses, nor did the existing systems of on-line
registration. Both universities trialled a system of enrolment forms that combined
aspects of the university admissions and registration forms into a single document.
This facilitated a less paper intensive enrolment process for the CWL students. The
single documents have proved to be effective and their use will be continued.
The universities have recognised the importance of flexible enrolment points
throughout the year and each has an agreed procedure for managing modular
enrolments. The University of Sussex realised that, if their new ‘Company’ MBA
programme were to be truly attractive to businesses in the way that they hoped, then
they would need to put in place a much more flexible system of enrolment that would
allow a learner to enrol on a per module basis and build up credit towards the
programme over time. This was a new development for the University and took
significant internal negotiations. The University now has in place a really innovative
new programme with four entry points per year to make it as flexible as possible.
The University of Chichester established a working group comprising representatives
from Admissions, Registry, Finance and Faculty, chaired by the Deputy Dean
responsible for Quality. This group undertook a thorough review of the existing
systems and created a flow chart for employer funded provision that has now
streamlined many of the previous systems. The impact of this work has been seen
not only in the reduction of duplication within the process, but also in increasing the
awareness and understanding across Departments whose involvement is key in
increasing the efficiency of the process, but who had not previously seen where it all
fitted together and the impact that their actions could have.
The University of Chichester established a ‘Rapid Approvals Panel’ and the CWL
project was used to trial this new system which consisted of retained external
examiners and monthly panels to approve new modules. The system proved robust
and an effective way of enabling swift approvals for small units of learning. The turnaround time for new course approvals was significantly reduced. The Rapid
Approvals Panel will therefore be retained beyond the end of the CWL funded period
and is likely to become a useful tool in the Chichester Joint Business Service.
4.4 Provide a statement on progress made in accreditation of prior
learning and in-house training.
This aspect of work has been led by the University of Brighton who has
demonstrated its ability to add value to existing in-house company training schemes.
In the past two years of the CWL, it has gained contracts for this type of work with a
number of local, national and international businesses with strong reputations, and it
is an area of work that will continue to be developed further.
The University has developed the MSc Management Practice, the open content MSc
by Learning Objectives and the Recognising Educational Quality kite mark, ReQTM.
Each has proved to be very adaptable vehicles to enhance workforce development.
The Recognising Educational Quality (ReQTM) kitemark has been identified as an
initiative with a great deal of potential to appeal to a wide range of clients. Initially
created within the School of Nursing and Midwifery in collaboration with the
University of Surrey, it had a strong focus on work in the Health Service. The service
has been expanded during the CWL project to incorporate work with commercial
organisations such as the Priory – a national chain of over 16,000 employees and
Regenerate – a not for profit business running the Government funded scheme to
train Community Organisers. Interest is currently being shown by a number of
employers who have been contacted via the CWL and through funded development
projects. There is scope to expand this initiative further within other Schools of the
University; the School of Education are already working on creating their own
Recognising Educational Quality, ReQTM, does not automatically link to the award of
HE credit. Where Learners, or their employers, wish to gain credit, then ReQTM is
offered with the parallel RaWL modules. When gaining credit, or a nationally
recognised qualification, is a key priority for a business client, ReQTM has not been
found to be the best product to offer. In these cases, the University has a number of
other routes which it is able to use to accredit existing company training schemes.
The flexible, work based MSc Management Practice and MSc by Learning
Objectives, have been used to provide the foundation for a range of recent
developments. Work with FDM has resulted in the new MSc Applied Computed
Science, where stage one and two are comprised mainly of the company’s in-house
training scheme, with the University taking the lead on the dissertation work at the
final stage of the qualification. Twenty Six FDM employees are currently registered
on this scheme. The Brighton Business School has been working with the RAF to
review the existing in-house officer training programme to create of a number of
named pathways through the MSc Management Practice. These include ‘Strategic
Leadership’ and ‘Technology Management’, with the first RAF cohorts planned for
enrolment in September 2012.
Taken as a whole, these three routes provide a powerful offer to a business that is
looking to increase the external recognition of its own training schemes. They
showcase a full spectrum of services, from a quality approval scheme through to
creation of award bearing programmes that may consist partly or entirely of existing
in-company training.
Many companies provide in-house training for their staff – but those that do have to
ensure their programmes can match or exceed the quality of courses offered by
outside organisations, in order to retain their key staff. When the Priory Group
realised this, the answer lay in a perfect partnership with the University of Brighton.
Priory Group – the UK’s largest independent provider of specialist mental health,
complex care and education considers training and education as core to the delivery
of quality care. The Group has considerable internal expertise to develop and deliver
training in-house.
Following a quality audit of their training provision the group concluded that although
the in-house training they were developing was rich in content it was not externally
recognised and started to look for potential external advisers.
In the past they had experienced unsuccessful collaborations with universities, and
they were keen not to repeat the experience. "We wanted a particular blend of theory
and practice which just wasn't available from any existing provider," explains Jan
Cowie, Priory Group’s Head of Learning and Development.
Priory Group were already working in partnership with Northbrook College Sussex to
deliver Modern Apprenticeship programmes, and it was the College who alerted Jan
to the University of Brighton’s Recognising Educational Quality (ReQ™) initiative.
After a meeting with Susannah Davidson one of the University’s Business
Development Managers, it was agreed that the University would “kitemark” Priory
Group’s internal provision through the ReQ™ procedure.
Priory Group worked in conjunction with a ReQ™ advisor from the University to
prepare a proposal and a portfolio of evidence for their in-house workshops and
courses to be quality approved. "We knew we had to develop our own course
specifically to suit our business needs,” Jan says, “but we were also looking for
guidance from the University to ensure that what we were planning to do in-house
was in line with current best practice and provided the optimum learning outcomes.”
The group have worked with the university for one year to create Universityrecognised courses for its employees. The new curriculum in Dementia Care, Child
and Adolescent Mental Health, and Eating Disorders were developed in close
partnership between the two organisations, and were specifically designed to deliver
a blend of theory as well as practice – elements that were not available from other
training providers.
The collaboration was a huge success. The University of Brighton granted its quality
mark on the courses, validating their academic value in the workplace, and the Priory
Group was entitled to promote its in-house training with university logos and the
ReQ™ mark. Based on the successful results, the Priory Group is now planning
further collaborations with the University of Brighton as well as other Centre for Work
and Learning education partners.
Dr Charlotte Ramage, the university's ReQ™ adviser for the project, was delighted
with the outcome. "This was a hugely rewarding project because it was evident from
the start that the Priory Group view the provision of education and training as central
to the delivery of quality care,” she says. “Their educational training programmes are
developed not only to enhance the knowledge and skills of their staff, but also to
value the contribution they make towards the health and wellbeing of the people they
are caring for."
4.5 Are there plans to disseminate the project outcomes beyond the
The CWL has been a network project and, as such, the impact of the project has
already been felt across the eleven different institutions who played an active role in
delivering the project outputs.
During the three years of the CWL, project leads met together regularly to share their
learning and to support each other with their challenges. This was one of the very
positive aspects of the network. It speeded up the learning process and meant that
the dissemination of project outcomes between institutions was an on-going feature
and not something left until the end of the project alone.
The transformational change theme was one area where this was seen to be very
effectively used. Early work was undertaken at the University of Brighton to review
the admissions and enrolment process and produce a new ‘short’ form that combined
aspects of the admissions and enrolment in a single format. This was cascaded
down for use to the FE college partners that worked with Brighton and was shared
with the University of Chichester; who were able to adapt the concept to fit their own
systems, make further improvements to the process and adopt it for their own use.
Brighton, in turn, were able to learn from the improvements in the system made by
the University of Chichester in the use of their process flow chart, and this in turn
helped them to improve their own processes further. This provides a really effective
illustration of how being able to disseminate the learning as part of the project has
had a beneficial impact for all.
Project outcomes have also been disseminated throughout the project through a
number of staff development events that have been open to all members of the
network and have been advertised widely amongst the wider academic community.
We have provided events focused on topics such as marketing approaches,
calculating return on investment, accrediting prior experience, using framework
qualifications to improve timeliness of response and creating higher apprenticeships.
Events varied in size from specialist events, such as that on Creative Assessment
which attracted 13 delegates, to the major events such as the launch of ‘Improve
your people Improve your performance’ campaign that attracted over 100 delegates.
The events not only provided the opportunity to showcase examples of best practice
within the network but also provided staff with the opportunities to learn from good
practice that was current within institutions outside of the network. At each event, we
tried to present a case study of good practice from within one of the partner
institutions and another case study from an institution elsewhere in the country.
Workshops included presentations from the University of Greenwich, Oxford
Brookes, University of Westminster and Anglia Ruskin University amongst others.
Outcomes from the CWL project have also been presented in workshops at the
HEFCE/HEA employer engagement conference in Manchester, at the LLN National
Forum event on the future of vocational progression, held at York St John and more
locally, at the Coastal West Sussex Skills Group.
The project concluded with a final conference held at the Brighton Racecourse that
was attended by almost 100 delegates, many of whom had travelled from beyond
Sussex to attend. The conference enabled those attending to choose from a range
of workshop presentations reflecting the variety of curriculum development projects
that had been undertaken by the CWL. A ‘marketplace’ space during breakout times
also provided the opportunity for delegates to browse the poster displays and pick up
copies of research reports and materials from the extensive number of demonstrator
projects that were undertaken by the CWL providers.
5. Financial information
Please refer to the HEFCE funding award letter for the assurance reporting
requirement(s) that we expect to be returned alongside the final report.
5.1 Provide a summary of spend against the original budget. Was there
any underspend against HEFCE funding? Please quantify, with
reasons, if applicable.
1. Summary of spend against original budget
Total Project
Total Project
development academics
Staffing - core team
development funding (institutions)
overheads academic posts
overheads professional posts
institutional contributions
Brighton contribution
Adjustment to match grant
savings from delayed start
A. Spend includes a £32,000 0.5 additional staffing uplift over the 8 month period, Sept 09-Apr
10, proposed at the meeting of the SLN Board (SLNB12) 9 October 2009 and agreed in
correspondence after the meeting. Underspend reflects changes in the CWL partnership over
the lifetime of the project.
B. The original core team staffing budget assumed that staff would be recruited at the top of
their grade. Underspend reflects the true staffing cost over the period.
C. Overspend reflects the creation of a flexible funding mechanism, the CWL Development Fund
(CDF), in response to changes in the partnership and resulting underspend. The creation of
the CDF was mandated by the SLN Board (SLNB13) on 23 March, 2010.
D. Marketing costs were devolved to the project partners and taken from the consultancy and
consumables budget lines in those instances where central marketing was necessary.
E. With the agreement of the SLN Board (SLNB18, 22 September 2011), the rent and removals
budget lines totalling £6000 have been rolled into the contingency, making a total
contingency of £81,000. At the meeting of the SLN Board (SLNB19), 15 February 2012, it was
agreed that contingency funds could be used to cover costs over the project evaluation
period, May-July 2012. £77,480.31 represents spend over this period.
F. Underspend reflects changes in the CWL partnership over the lifetime of the project.
G. Project underspend has been, in agreement with HEFCE, committed to related activity in
2012/13. A breakdown of allocated expenditure includes :
 Final evaluation phase costs - £4,953.83
 Final payment to Work & Learning Opportunities c.i.c to maintain the Sussex Routes
online progression tool - £10,000
 Joint SLN-local authority Green Deal labour market intelligence projects - £20,000
 SLN Phase 3 - £70,000 (partner match funding)
 SLN Phase 3 - planned additional matched funding £13,346.38
5.2 Will all HEFCE funding be used as planned and spent within three
months of the end of the project?
See self-certification document attached – APPENDIX A
5.3 Were there any changes to risk status during the project?
There were no changes to the risk status of the project overall and the original risk
assessment, undertaken as part of the project proposal to HEFCE in 2008, proved to
be accurate.
It was recognised in the original project proposal that the area of employer
engagement is characterised as ‘High Risk’2. The project set out to manage these
A Collaborative Solution to Employer Demand: the Centre for Work and Learning, Bid submitted to
HEFCE Sept 2008, p31-35
inherent risks through delivery of the project across the network of providers. This
meant that the risk was spread across a number of delivery partners; with no one
partner assuming the bulk of the risk. This proved to be a very effective strategy to
adopt, especially with regard to take up of co-funded ASNs. Low take up of co
funded places was always identified as high impact / high probability and this
analysis was one that did not improve with the continuation of the economic
Although each of the eight delivery partners committed to equal targets of 15 co
funded FTEs per year, the nature of the network project allowed us to move the
numbers between partners to maximise delivery and capture outputs for employers,
and the project, wherever they could be identified. It was originally anticipated that
the FE college partners would be able to move quicker than the universities in their
delivery of co funded ASNs, building on their well established employer networks.
However, the development and marketing of a modular HE curriculum proved more
challenging than originally anticipated and it was the University partners who actually
ended up delivering the majority of learner numbers in the early stage of the project.
In the first year of the project 57 Learners were enrolled at the Universities of
Brighton and Chichester alone, with none enrolled at the FE College partners.
However, by the final year of the project, the FE College partners were playing a
significant role in delivery of the co funded ASNs with 81 co funded learners enrolled
at the colleges in 2011-12. The ability to spread the risk of delivery in this way had
enabled the Colleges to have the time they required to build the new curriculum that
employers wanted.
The network nature of the project also allowed the CWL to accommodate a number
of fluctuations in membership, whilst still retaining a common core and ethos. Three
of the original nine partners withdrew from the project before the end. This included
the Open University in the South East, (who were never intended to act as a delivery
partner) the University of Sussex and City College Brighton and Hove. In each case,
the institution continued its engagement with the CWL project and participated in
many of its capacity building activities, but did not play and active role in delivery of
targets. In each case, the funding that had been identified initially for these partners
was able to be redistributed effectively to support a number of new development
projects across the partnership, including absorbing work at two new college
partners: Central Sussex College and East Surrey College.
5.4 Was co-funding achieved in cash, in-kind or a combination of both?
What was the overall level of co-funding achieved?
Income from employers was achieved as both cash and in-kind contributions. Cash
contributions, which were more easily quantifiable, were mostly collected in the form
of course fees and totalled £1,029,066.
Some courses, such as the CISCO modules offered at Sussex Coast College
Hastings, and Project Management at Northbrook College had course fees that were
priced on a per Learner basis. On other courses, such as the Childcare Management
programme at the University of Chichester or the First Line Managers programme at
the University of Brighton, the price was negotiated with an employer on a cohort
basis. In a small number of cases employers, such as the Strategic Health Authority
and the Priory Group, also made a financial contribution towards the associated
curriculum development activities. This ensured that a financially viable model was
adopted that was not overly dependent on Government subsidies for training.
In all cases, CWL activities focused on the delivery of courses that were identified as
being part of the Centre for Work and Learning and set up to meet employer
demand. Fees were priced accordingly and factored in a reduced HEFCE income
and enhanced employer contribution. In only one instance did a ‘CWL Learner’ in-fill
onto a mainstream course (the Foundation Degree Engineering at Sussex Coast
college Hastings) and, in this case, the per module fee was negotiated at a higher
rate than a pro rata fee.
The original project aim was to begin with employer contributions at 25% of the
anticipated HEFCE funding and to move over the three years towards a model of
50% contributions. First year fees were set at the 25% level but the challenging
economic climate made it difficult to continue to keep employers engaged and still
keep increasing fees at the planned level. Some of the sector groupings that we
worked with, such as the Adult Social Care sector and the Hair Salon Managers
seemed to be especially price sensitive. In such cases the year on year fee
increase, although incremental, were much smaller than originally intended. The
engineering sector seemed to prove more robust during the lifespan of the project so
the co-funding aspect there was much closer to that originally planned and courses in
Vetronics and Sustainable Waste Management quickly moved into a full cost
recovery model that was not dependent on HEFCE funding at all.
In-kind contributions from employers supplemented the cash income on a number of
courses more than doubling the contributions from employers. Examples included
the use of employer premises as teaching spaces. This was seen with the Priory
Group who provided a teaching space in the Midlands and brought together
employees from all over the country to attend the residential training sessions there.
St Wilfrid’s Hospice has provided the specialist training facilities for the ‘end of life
care’ module which caters not only for their own staff, but is also attracting learners
from across the county. The MSc Highways Engineering utilises employers as
specialist lecturers, as does the level 4 module in tissue viability and wound care.
The MSc Highways Engineering also offers learners on the programme the
opportunity to experience a range of work experiences through a work placement
exchange programme that significantly enhances the MSc and the learning for those
undertaking it. A number of new programmes build on existing in house training
programmes and company learning platforms provided by employers. Strong
examples of these can be seen in the work at FDM and at the Priory Group.
5.5 Provide some information on the relative costs incurred in engaging
with employers.
Project spend on employer engagement activity breaks down into three categories:
direct engagement with employers, the production of sales pipelines, and core
activity that supported these functions.
As anticipated at the outset, direct engagement was initiated and managed by the
Centre for Work and Learning project leads. Despite changes to the project
partnership, this resulted in a considerable proportion of total spend being given over
to staffing costs, a full 30%.
The generation of sales pipelines post contact with employers was achieved through
the deployment of development funds - 16% of the budget. The total proportion of the
budget spent on development activity is, then, 46%.
A further 43% was given over to activity that built upon and supported employer
engagement, including the work of the core team, the development of the SLN
websites, centrally coordinated marketing, the development of the Sussex
Progression and Credit System and support for Learning Opportunities in Sussex,
along with a variety of smaller projects carried out by consultants.
6. External engagement
6.1 Provide details of how the institution has engaged with key non-HEI /
FEC partners, such as Sector Skills Councils and the RDA and the
level of success.
The CWL project has been overseen by a strategic Board Chaired by the VC
University of Brighton and includes representation from all other delivery partners
who are represented at VC/PVC/ FE College Principal level. As well as the
academic institutions, Board membership also includes representatives of the
Economic and Skills Divisions of the three Local Authorities covered by the Sussex
Learning Network (East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and
West Sussex County Council) and, until their dissolution, area mangers from the
South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) plus Next Steps and Connexions
IAG services.
This Board not only monitors the progress of the project, but has been instrumental in
shaping the strategic direction that the project should pursue. Major decisions such
as the drive to create an apprenticeship progression strategy that joins together the
FE and HE aspects of work-based learning, have come through via the Board
members. The Board regularly reviews local economic strategies to ensure that the
work of the project is aligned with local needs.
Since SEEDA came to an end mid way through the project, the Board and the CWL
project have worked instead with the two LEPs that cover our area: Coast to Capital
and the SE LEP. Board members are represented on each of the LEP boards and
provide regular updates that both inform the work of the CWL project, and inform the
LEPs about the progress of the CWL in relevant areas. The CWL has worked
especially closely with the Coast to Capital LEP and some of the early phase work to
increase the HE presence in the Gatwick diamond area has been in direct response
to this agenda.
The project has linked with a number of sector skills councils but a notable example
is our work with Skills for Care (the SSC for Adult Social Care) where we have linked
on a number of projects. Skills for Care have been involved during the development
and pilot phase for the new modular curriculum offered at Northbrook College and
Sussex Downs College. They took part in the initial employer forums to identify the
needs, and representatives contributed as an active part of the curriculum
development team. Karen Stevens, Regional Development Officer, visited the
students on their last day of the ‘Person Centred Care for Dementia’ course at
Northbrook and said how much Skills for Care valued this development in creating a
new tier of dementia champions. The modules are aligned with the SfC HE strategy
and we are currently in discussion with the national team regarding their potential
inclusion within the new Higher Apprenticeship framework. The CWL project partners
were part of the recent successful bid by Skills for Care to create a new Higher
Apprenticeship framework and the colleges involved aim to be part of the pilot phase
in late 2012.
6.2 Did the project have any referrals from Train to Gain? Did it make
any referrals to Train to Gain? If so, please provide details.
Train to Gain was a project that concluded well within the lifespan of the Centre for
Work and Learning. As such, it had little impact on the CWL project as a whole. We
neither made, nor received any referrals from Train to Gain. However, in the set up
phase for the CWL, we did engage our colleagues in Train to Gain and their
sister/parent organisation, Business Link.
FE College partners already had very close working relationships with the Business
Link/Train to Gain Brokers through their work in the delivery of level 2 and 3 workbased learning programmes especially. The Sussex Learning Network, our umbrella
organisation, had also worked closely with the Brokers to provide an IAG kit raising
awareness of HE opportunities. We extended this work by ensuring that the Brokers
were aware of the CWL project and its aims and how we could complement and
support each other in employer engagement to identify training needs at level 4 and
above. We hoped to be able to make cross-referrals but the work did not result in any
positive outcomes as the Business Link presence on the ground was soon to be
7. Lessons learnt
7.1 What are the key learning points for the institution arising from the
If you want to grow and develop this line of work, you must provide a
dedicated resource up front to enable it to happen. Developing an effective sales
pipeline takes time and requires an on-going commitment to engaging with business.
It can be very resource intensive, yet it is vital to successful business engagement
activity3. Partners have used a wide range of marketing interventions, including
mailshots, telemarketing and ‘feet on the ground’, to systematically generate leads.
Effective marketing needs to be viewed as a continuum, not a series of one-off
course promotions – which is the model that had been largely adopted prior to the
project. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can assist greatly with
developing and managing a sales pipeline and several of the project partners have
been working to embed these systems within their business engagement activities.
The better your market intelligence, the more successful your offer will be.
Investing time in initial market research is time well spent. The CWL experience has
shown us that, where relationships have been built and employer demand has been
effectively established, such as the need for sustainable waste management training
in the Crawley area, then the training programmes produced have a high level of take
up. Where employer demand is anticipated, based on regional or national modelling,
such as the “need” for level 4 training in Customer Service, then courses developed
have proved to be a difficult ‘sell’. There is a big difference to be recognised between
businesses who know that they have a skills gap and a business that is prepared to
invest in training to meet this need. When engaging with business, we must be
careful to establish which of these scenarios we are dealing with and be very clear in
any market research undertaken. Otherwise we risk continuing to develop courses
Kewin J et al (Dec 2011) Evaluation of the Higher Education Transforming Workforce Development
Programme, HEFCE p11
that are not really wanted by business and do not generate sufficient income to cover
their development costs.
Adopting a solutions focused approach was more effective than a ‘product
push’ approach. Business engagement activities need to be viewed holistically.
When engaging employers, we should consider the full range of business support
services that we can provide to support a company, and not simply view it as a
simple transactional relationship.
When looking at the Contact:Conversion rate for CPD courses, this can appear low
(in one year our project recorded contacts with over 650 employers but only 36
employers sponsored learners on co-funded programmes) but it should not be the
only critical success factor which is used to judge employer engagement. In a
significant number of cases, additional outcomes have been recorded as a result of
the contact which has increased the business engagement activities of the institution,
even though they have not led to the recruitment of students onto co-funded courses.
Within the HEIs, a number of new KTP and consultancy opportunities have been
identified, Student placements opportunities have been increased, a new student
sponsorship has been offered and some opportunities have been identified as more
appropriate to be full cost from the start – with the agreement of the employer.
Further Education College (FEC) partners have discovered a number of opportunities
which have lead to increases in their apprenticeship provision. In the case of one
FEC, CWL activities have played a significant role in the college gaining two major
contracts as a preferred supplier of apprenticeships with national chains, a new
international programme for work based learners and a range of full cost short course
opportunities. These outcomes have provided a genuine added value to the project.
Maximise existing relationships with employers. Many of the most successful
interactions within the Centre for Work and Learning have resulted in the creation of
strategic partnerships with employers that have grown and changed over time, rather
than leading to simple transactional relationships based on the purchase of an
individual, off the shelf, short course. As well as continuing to seek out new
business, it is important to optimise current employer links and think about the range
of business support services that we can offer that can supplement our offer of
training courses. Work with a large employer may start off small, such as the initial
contract with the Priory, but a large employer like this provides plenty of potential for
growth and is worth the initial investment of time in relationship building.
Working together increases the capacity of the whole sector. It speeds up the
process of learning for individual institutions and improves the landscape for
workforce development.
Sell the business benefits of the course, not the Learning Outcomes. If we are
to appeal to Business, then we need to improve our marketing messages and get
better at using a language that business can understand and relate to. Employers
also showed a strong interest in courses that offered a dual accreditation with
professional bodies.
There is considerable interest in Higher Apprenticeships – both locally and
nationally to help meet the Higher Skills agenda. There is also a potentially large untapped market seeking a different route to progress to higher education. However,
this aspect of work is still in its infancy and we need to be very clear that we need to
be looking at different ways of working if we are to maximise this potential, and not
fall into the trap of re-branding existing products.
7.2 Provide details of particular challenges or unintended consequences
and the response to these.
A delayed start to the project and fluctuations in membership caused by the
withdrawal of a number of delivery partners have proved challenging. However, we
have been able to accommodate these challenges due to the network nature of the
project, and to build a positive outcome from the changes through the new
opportunities opened up by the creation of a ‘Development Fund’.
In year one, the SLN Board, which maintains the strategic oversight of the CWL
project, approved the creation of a Development Project Fund. This fund, which did
not exist in the original budget, was created from funds remaining from the underspend in staffing costs resulting from a delayed start to the CWL. The original budget
had been put together to reflect a full complement of staff from the first day of the
project. The reality was that all staff had to be appointed and, in several institutions
this created a delay of several months.
The development fund is a pot of money that has been subject to significant change
over the three year project lifespan. It has increased as changes to the partnership
staffing model have released previously committed funding. Examples include
changes such as the loss of funded posts at the University of Sussex, the Open
University and City College Brighton and Hove. It also includes temporary
readjustments for periods where partners, such as Northbrook College, have been
without a CWL Lead.
The fund has proved to be a real bonus and has been the place in which any
outstanding ‘under-spend’ from staffing or related activities has been held. It is the
source from which funding has been drawn to support project or activities identified
by partners, that are deemed likely to move our agenda forward and increase our
likelihood of meeting our ASN target numbers, yet have not been covered by funding
already allocated.
We have had three major calls for funded projects and have supported 27 projects in
total. This included 18 new curriculum development projects, three returns on
investment projects and a number of intelligence gathering projects which have
extended our understanding of the training needs of the sales management,
construction, salon managers and spa sectors. Other funded projects have worked
directly with employers to build accredited routes to meet their training needs. The
new MSc in Applied Computer Science in collaboration with FDM, and the
accreditation of the Priory’s in house training programmes have been two very
successful examples of these. Both have been funded out of the Development Fund.
7.3 Was the model used for employer engagement successful? On
reflection, would a different approach have had even more success?
The Centre for Work and Learning project has been staffed with a core team of three,
based in the University of Brighton, and a CWL lead member of staff based in each
of the partner institutions. CWL Leads are in place to build institutional capacity, to
facilitate partnership working, to generate employer leads and to support
development projects through to completion.
The staffing model of CWL Leads has been adapted over the lifespan of the project
in response to changes in the partnership, but it has proved robust as a model and
flexible enough to adapt to the changing environment in the network. The
appointment of a single, full time, Business Development Manager to lead the CWL
project across the University of Chichester and Chichester College helped to
coordinate the activities of both institutions and cement the partnership aspects of the
joint working practices that they wished to evolve. The withdrawal of the University of
Sussex at the end of year one resulted in the transfer of additional target numbers to
the University of Brighton. This also enabled the University to appoint a new, full
time Business Development Manager who had time to provide additional support to
the College partners and act as an interface with the Brighton Schools administrative
staff. This was a useful additional role as prior to this communications had
sometimes been delayed or confused by this interface. With hindsight, this is a role
that it would have been useful to have in place from the start of the project, but the
initial staffing model had not allowed for it.
Although the project was set up with a small core team (a Director, a Deputy Director
and a Network Manager), the model employed was largely that of a distributed
network rather than a hub and spoke model. Institutions were responsible for their
own employer engagement strategies and delivery against individual targets. The
core team were there to monitor progress, to advise and support the individual
institutions and to provide a series of central functions such as the staff development
events and website hosting. There was never an intention to create centralised
marketing materials or marketing strategy, yet it became clear during the first year
that partners would find this valuable. Again, with hindsight, this is an area that would
be changed if the project were to be revisited. The original concept was overly
concerned about preserving individual institutional autonomy. The reality of the
project was that partners wanted to use centralised messages and saw them as part
of a unifying strategy, not as an erosion of autonomy. We tried to avoid creating ‘yet
another brand’, however partners wanted a brand they could use and we quickly
found that the Centre for Work and Learning was establishing a brand all by itself.
People started to talk about “Sussex Down’s Centre for Work and Learning” or “The
University of Chichester’s Centre for Work and Learning”. For a while we fought
against establishing this as a formal brand, however after a few months we did get
the words formally designed to give a house style – a logo that was not a brand. Our
employer engagement strategy probably would have been stronger at the outset and
more unified if we had taken this approach from the start of the project.
At the start of the project, CWL leads were drawn from a mix of backgrounds and
different institutions had identified different lines of management for them. Some,
such as the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton seconded academics
into the role and had them managed within academic schools, others such as the
Chichester partnership and Northbrook College appointed experienced Business
Development Managers and sat them within their Business Engagement teams.
Sussex Coast College Hastings and City College Brighton and Hove both appointed
staff with a good knowledge of employer engagement who were new to education
and had them line managed by the Head of Higher Education. Sussex Downs
College appointed a Senior Manager to the role who worked directly to the Deputy
Principal and took on the role of autonomous project manager. It was important to
allow each institution to identify the type of person they wanted to lead their CWL
work and to agree their own lines of operational management. This was part of the
strategy of ensuring that each institution could use the project to help shape its own
employer engagement strategy. However, as the project evolved, the personnel
leading the work in some institutions changed to reflect revised priorities and so did
their operational management. By the end of the project, a natural process of
evolution had taken place and each institution now had a Business Development
Manager driving forward this work within their institution and housed within the
Business Development team of the organisation. From this we can conclude that,
although curriculum development may have been an important feature of the project
in its early phase (it certainly was at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton where
much early work focused on the development of the MBA and the Graduate
Certificate and MSc Management Practice respectively) by the latter phases it was
clear that critical success factors were in finding new employer leads and managing
the sales pipeline. If we were to restart the project again, this is the area in which we
would focus most of our resources from day one.
7.4 If the co-funding model is expanded across the HE sector, what
advice would you give to other institutions seeking to increase the
proportionate contribution from employers?
Co-funding as a model is not expanding and is to be phased out. This is one of the
challenges that the project faced during its lifespan. Originally set up to generate
interest in a concept and trial a number of models to identify what lessons could be
learned, the project quickly discovered that, although years two and three showed
increasing targets and an increasing recruitment profile, this would need to lead to
the phasing out of any financial support in years four and five.
It has often been said that employer engagement is a long game. The time taken to
generate interest and work with an employer to develop a product that is fit for
purpose is rarely short and a strong relationship is one that develops over time. Our
advice, supported by the work of this project, is to build strong and lasting strategic
relationships with a number of employers. Build these relationships based on mutual
areas of interest and, if any funding becomes available to support this work, then see
it as an added bonus. Do not chase short term short cycle relationships simply to
capitalise on pots of funding that may not be around by the time you actually try to
utilise them.
Another lesson that we have learned is to make sure that what you are offering is
what is actually wanted and not just what you think someone needs. If an employer
wants a product, they will pay for it; if they do not want it, making it cheaper will not
make any difference to them. Selling the benefits is something that we too often
forget to do, and sometimes something we have never considered ourselves. We
focus on learning outcomes and not on business benefits; this is the nature of how
we have been brought up to express our wares to our ‘customers’. This is fine if
people want to learn for the sake of learning, but not the way to convince employers
that investing money in staff training is a vital spend in challenging financial
circumstances. We should not be afraid to learn from some of the best practice of our
commercial partners but we need to first change our own paradigm and view our
courses through the lens of business. We need to ask ourselves what difference this
course can make to an employer’s bottom line and we need to change our marketing
messages to reflect this.
8. Wider issues
8.1 What was the impact of the economic downturn? Did it result in
fundamental changes to the nature of the project?
The economic climate and political landscape have been turbulent and this has
proved challenging throughout the lifespan of the CWL project.
There were no fundamental changes to the nature of the project, but the pace of
progress was certainly slowed down by market uncertainties. In a number of cases,
early stage employer discussions were positive, but there was a reluctance to commit
fully until the economy picked up. This was seen, for example in the early work
undertaken by City College Brighton and Hove around a customer service level 4
course for American Express. Although the company were interested, the start dates
were pushed back a number of times and then eventually, the company decided it
was not a pressing priority. Northbrook College undertook significant developmental
work with the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) on the development of a course for
mentoring apprentices in the workplace. Although all curriculum developments were
funded by the SHA, a new policy shift lead to wholesale restructure of the Health
Service and the course was never delivered to the market it was intended for.
Some of the employment sectors that had been identified by partners in the original
bid as their area for targeted delivery needed to be revised as the project progressed.
Our first task once the project commenced was to review these aspects and to
amend them where market intelligence advised.
The project has demonstrated that there are high levels of price sensitivity with
regard to employer purchasing behaviours, especially amongst SMEs – the target
group that makes up the vast majority of our target market in Sussex and England as
a whole and this has had an effect on our intial strategy to raise the employer
contributions from 25% - 50% incrementally. Although we still attempted to model
this behaviour, the reality in some sectors eg adult social care, was that the prices
were only able to be raised very slightly year on year.
8.2 Has the project had any impact upon the institution’s strategic
The project has created a significant number of systems changes across the network
which will continue to positively influence employer engagement and the BCE
activities of partners:
8.2.1 Using Business Development Units as Academic Drivers:
As part of the project, institutions across the partnership worked to review their
systems and identify structural changes that would be required to ensure an effective
implementation of employer responsive training programmes. Within the colleges,
this has resulted in reviews of working practice and a closer integration between
departments responsible for managing and delivering higher education, and those
responsible for business engagement and workforce development. In many cases,
there had been a lack of awareness on the part of the colleges own business
development unit, of the flexibility available within the higher education delivery arm.
Similarly, the higher education departments had not necessarily maximised the
opportunities for employer engagement and labour market intelligence gathering
which were already in place within their own college.
The CWL has provided the impetus for HE curriculum teams and Business
Development teams within the Further Education Colleges to work together. This
has resulted in intelligence-led curriculum developments, such as the new modular
Health and Social Care offer, limited unnecessary time that may have potentially
been spent on development of unwanted courses, such as some proposed level 4
courses for the spa industry, and provided a much more effective route to market for
short courses.
University partners have also used the CWL project to build new working
relationships and strengthen existing links between academic staff and business
development staff. At the University of Brighton, CPD was not always promoted to
businesses as part of the University offer. Business Development Managers often
focused on identification of opportunities for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
(KTPs) making links for research or consultancy projects. The CWL project ensured
that all Business Development Managers who had an external role in engaging with
employers, felt confident to talk about CPD courses as an integral part of the
university’s ‘toolkit’ for business, and were able to identify opportunities and refer
them back to a specialist within the Department who would take this further.
As the project progressed, the University of Brighton appointed a specialist Business
Development Manager for the CWL project. This role not only provided support for
the School and Faculty based business development staff, but also focused on
engaging directly with external employers to generate and follow up leads for CPD
courses. Academic staff found that, having a dedicated specialist resource such as
this became a real bonus, freeing them up from having to focus on finding new
markets and instead allowing them to focus on shaping and delivering the curriculum
to meet the need. Although the focus of the engagement with employers was to
identify opportunities for a CPD offer, approaching the contacts with a holistic
approach to business development was very successful and resulted in a significant
amount of added value for the Schools within the University in the shape of new
placement opportunities for students, visiting speakers, specialist tutors, consultancy
contracts and a number of new KTPs.
Promoting CPD as part of a holistic offer to business is now seen as an integral part
of the strategy for the University and this work is being driven forward through the
creation of a dedicated training and development unit that will build on the lessons
learned through the CWL project. The new Training and Development unit, based
within the Department of Economic and Social Engagement, will begin work in 201213 and has been created as a direct result of the CWL project and demonstrates its
impact on the organisation.
8.2.2 The Chichester Joint Business Service:
The University of Chichester and Chichester College used the CWL project as a
catalyst for the creation and piloting of a ‘Chichester Joint Business Service’.
Although geographically very close, the University and the College had always
operated quite independently sharing only a small number of curriculum linkages. In
2009 they began to discuss the possibility of creating a joint business school and the
CWL project provided the opportunity to develop the relationships and collaborative
working practices between the two organisations that would be required. A joint
working party was formed which involved managers from both institutions, and this
group reviewed the curriculum offer of both institutions, identified potential areas of
collaboration and produced a joint business plan and operational plan.
It was clear that, by combining the strength of both institutions and the breadth of the
CPD offer there was a strong proposition to take to the local market. However, it was
also clear from the mapping exercises that the sheer breadth of activity and overlap
created challenges for both institutions, including the potential for competition and
conflict. To minimise this risk, the University and College decided not to press ahead
with the original concept of a joint business school, but instead to refocus their offer
to business as a ‘Joint Business Service’, marketing the offer of both institutions to
Businesses together, and using the breadth of existing provision as the USP. An
employer demand survey was carried out by a single lead working on behalf of both
institutions, able to discuss a potential developmental framework for staff that will
take them from level 2 to level 5 and beyond in subjects that are relevant to their
business. Streamlining employer engagement in this way has been a very positive
move, reducing duplication and making a smarter use of business contacts. It is an
approach that has been welcomed by business in the area.
The CWL project enabled the University and College to test out an idea they had
about joint working. It allowed them to shape this idea into a viable proposition that
had benefit for both institutions as well as local businesses; to build the infrastructure
through the creation of new systems, policies and working practices; and to build the
capacity through joint market research and a combined marketing and operational
8.3 Equality and diversity
Each institution within the partnership has clear equality and diversity policies in
place and these confirm their commitment to equality of access to the curriculum.
Access to learning opportunities throughout the project, has been driven by the ability
to achieve and not limited by factors such as gender, race, faith, culture, disability or
age. It is also not limited by a lack of formal entry qualifications.
Recruitment methods used have included information sessions, meetings with tutors
and visits to employers’ premises to ensure appropriate levels of advice and
guidance. This has helped employers and employees to see that the university is not
a closed environment but one that welcomes them in and is for ‘people like them’. A
number of our courses have been delivered in the workplace, such as the health and
care modules, and the post graduate level training course in sustainable waste
management. This has helped to make learning more accessible to those who could
not or would not otherwise travel to Brighton or Chichester.
Where courses have been established in collaboration with a single employer, such
as the MSc Applied Computer Science, the entry criteria for learners are discussed
and negotiated with the employer as part of the curriculum developments. Where
employees are recruited as individual learners, such as with the Graduate Certificate
in Management – the University of Brighton, and its partners, adopt an individualised
and inclusive approach to recruitment. Where applicants do not have formal entry
qualifications, interviews are used across all partners to establish ability to achieve.
Learning Opportunities, the national award winning IAG service, created and
supported by the SLN, is aimed at people in the workplace considering higher
education. Supported and further developed through the lifetime of the CWL project,
it provides a useful, non-institutionally aligned source of advice and guidance. Work
commenced under the CWL has enabled it to continue during 2012-13, incorporating
increased levels of guidance around the topics of Higher Apprenticeships, increasing
awareness of a range of options and opportunities for workforce development that
links into the higher level skills agenda.
The CWL project has worked to encourage a greater engagement with Higher
Education from those individual employees who may not otherwise have considered
it, by providing a series of events associated with Learning at Work Day in 2010 and
2011. Five Higher education providers worked together to create a programme of 17
free taster sessions that were attended by 280 Learners in total. These events took
the learning into the workplace. They included introductions to Health and Care, held
at the local hospital in Worthing, a free webinar for Early Years practitioners, a
fundraising workshop held on the premises of a local charity organisation and a
taster session in coaching held at a local sports centre in Eastbourne. Feedback from
those who attended was very positive about the experience. Although the sessions
did not lead to large numbers directly converting their interest into enrolment a small
number did proceed to enrol on a longer programme as a result and a significant
number of people had been able to have their first ever ‘HE experience’ – lighting a
candle within them that we hope will continue to burn.
Internal Audit Service
File Note
Centre for Work & Learning HEFCE Funded Project
This project has recently ended and HEFCE require a self certified statement of
assurance to accompany the final report.
I therefore met with Viki Faulkner, Director, Sussex Learning Network and Adam Stewart,
Network Manager, to discuss the use of the funding for the budget, and also reviewed
supporting paperwork.
The project commenced in April 2009 with the objective of engaging local employers and
developing bespoke HE offerings to be co-funded by employers. This work builds on the
previous success of the Sussex Learning Network which has been engaged in learning at
work activities for some years.
The project involved a number of local HE and FE providers, with University of Brighton
as the Lead Partner. The total development funding provided by HEFCE was £1.726m.
Whilst some partners found it difficult to generate any demand from local employers and
subsequently left the project, overall the project has been successful with 621 individual
learners taking part in co-funded courses during the term. In addition to this 280 learners
took part in taster courses as part of “Learning at Work Week” and 95 people took noncredit bearing CPD courses, fully funded by employers.
As some partners were slow to get going and others left during the course of the project,
not all the funding was allocated as originally envisaged, and the remaining partners
were invited to bid for additional funds to cover the cost of additional employer
engagement activity. Despite a number of these bids being agreed by the Board, there
remains an underspend of £118,300. HEFCE have agreed that this underspend can be
retained and utilised during the 2012/13 year to fund ongoing related activities by the
Sussex Learning Network.
My discussions with the Director and Manager, and my review of reports from partner
institutions, bids from partners, and receipts/invoices supporting expenditure show that
the project was well managed with the HEFCE funds being used for the purpose
intended. I have seen confirmation from HEFCE that the underspend may be carried
forward as outlined above. The Business Accountant has also reviewed expenditure to
ensure that items have been correctly coded and that no amounts have been included in
Self Certification Report
Centre for Work and Learning Project Code ED1. HEFCE grant allocated £1,726,587
I have reviewed the above named project and confirm that:
 The HEFCE grant for this project has been used for the purposes provided
The Institution has complied with any specific conditions attached to the grant
The Institution has taken reasonable steps to achieve value for money.