From education to employment

More lightbulb moments from sector workforce development research

Kerry Boffey

Enthusiastic operational staff are among those benefiting from providers adopting a more creative approach to CPD as a result of latest research.

One of the most rewarding aspects of research is the glorious lightbulb moments that occur unexpectedly. These moments of sudden clarity can spark a chain reaction, like a snowball gathering momentum, transforming and growing in speed and weight as it rolls.

In my article for FE News in May (FE News | Upskilling The FE Workforce to Meet Changing Needs), I shared the interim findings of the joint FIN/AMFE workforce development research from the FE and skills sector. While the core findings have remained consistent, their depth and substance have evolved. New themes and ideas have emerged as Alex Miles from AMFE (AMFE Consultancy) has taken the research on the road, and the teams at ALIN and FIN have conducted dedicated focus groups and interviews. These discussion groups and collaborative activities have enriched our qualitative findings, adding colour and context.

Continuing professional development (CPD), ongoing personal growth and the refinement of professional and technical skills are highly personal pursuits, influenced by various environmental and motivational factors. Initially, our research explored the CPD needs of the sector from a business perspective, identifying commercial opportunities as providers sought specific, currently unavailable training.

Results From our Deeper Dive

Our recent qualitative research has delved deeper into CPD. We have examined what leaders and managers identify as necessary, noting that their directives don’t always align with the interests of operational staff, who often seek to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind their tasks. Surprisingly, the enthusiasm for knowledge and development among operational staff is greater than initially perceived, particularly when training is targeted and beneficial. Experiential and enjoyable CPD can have a significantly higher impact.

On developing a creative approach to CPD, we know some have but how many providers have ever considered offering funding for learning to their operational staff that at first glance appears completely unrelated to their job or career; for example: orienteering, macrame, drama classes, cake icing or tennis? If you think I’ve lost the plot, stay with me. This is about a deeper understanding, returning to basic principles of motivation as a driver, evaluation and collaborative learning.

Take Dave Baber, one of our senior advisors. Following some advisory work, Dave was so inspired that he enrolled in a short course to learn French. What stands out is the self-directed additional learning he has already undertaken to maximise his educational experience over the summer. Dave has since started the informal evaluation of onboarding and pre-course materials. His is one of the many lightbulb moments and snowballs started from the transferable learning and the clear links to CPD that result from this creative learning approach.

Mapping the Impact

As a result of the research and CPD examples, we are currently developing a mapping document to maximise the impact and to evidence the positive impact of innovation. This is just one example of our ongoing work; we don’t want to give it all away, so reach out to us at FIN (Fellowship of Inspection Nominees) if you would like to know how our research can help your organisation.

Our research has captured the personal stories and experiences that have highlighted the profound impact well-designed CPD can have, not just on professional skills but on personal motivation and growth that directly impact on high-quality delivery.

We aim to conclude our research over the summer and continue to welcome contributions from across the sector. If you haven’t already completed our survey, please do so here (Survey ( This can help advance our unique and extensive research, gathering insights and market intelligence from a wide range of stakeholders, so we can advise employers and providers on making tailored CPD more effective and engaging. Let’s make professional development a dynamic and enjoyable journey for everyone involved.

By Kerry Boffey, CEO – Fellowship of Inspection Nominees

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