Research into Project-based learning (PBL), involving long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with employers shows profound benefits for students says a report published today (19 Feb) by the education charity The Edge Foundation and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The Evaluation of University Technical Colleges report, produced by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), evaluated PBL and employer engagement in two phases. In this second phase of its research, three leading University Technical Colleges (UTCs) in Liverpool, Reading and Aston were examined in depth to explore the benefits of embedding these concepts in the curriculum and gaining strong and committed employer engagement over a sustained time period.
Project-based learning is a key focus for UTCs and demonstrates a different way of learning, often via industry-relevant projects developed in collaboration with local employers, ensuring that students develop skills that can help them access pathways into employment.
The report highlighted that PBL, which requires students to work to briefs and deadlines and use skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, appears to enhance their academic learning in subjects like English or history as well as technical subjects.
As the annual furore of GCSEs died down last week (28 Aug), the Times led with a front page splash on an increasingly concerning and complex matter which is becoming part of the annual narrative around exams.
First national VQ Day takes place on Wednesday 23rd July The UK’s business leaders’ have called for more young people to take vocational qualifications in future years. 85 per cent of those surveyed by education charity Edge would encourage young people to take a vocational qualification – rising to 93 per cent among the leaders of the UK’s largest companies (250-plus staff). As plans are finalised for the first national celebration of vocational qualifications on 23rd July, the research also highlights the benefits people studying for such qualifications can expect. Over half (55 per cent) of business leaders believe vocational qualifications increase earnings potential and 57 per cent believe young people with such qualifications are more work ready from day one. The figures show that vocational qualifications don’t just benefit the individual. Eight in ten (78 per cent) business leaders also believe the skills gained as part of vocational qualifications lead to a better skilled workforce with seven in ten agreeing that these are the same skills which are vital to the success of the British economy. Andy Powell, Chief Executive of Edge, the education charity behind the figures, said: “There are many paths to success, but what’s becoming clearer is just how vital vocational qualifications are to the British economy – and the positive role they play in their recipients’ lives.” The research also shows that the majority of the nation’s business leaders hold a vocational qualification – with 61 per cent of these leaders saying the qualification was the basis for their current success and position. The growing market for employees holding vocational qualifications is also revealed with two thirds (66 per cent) of large companies, 44 per cent of medium sized companies and 45 per cent of small companies saying they will recruit increasing numbers of people with such qualifications. In fact such is business leaders’ commitment to vocational qualifications that 69 per cent encourage employees to take vocational courses while at work. Powell, continued: “Every year millions of people across the country study for and gain a vocational qualification, leading to further vocational study or university, better jobs and enhanced skills. However, despite these clear benefits, vocational qualifications sadly do not enjoy the prestige of their more academic counterparts. The launch of VQ Day is just one step in starting to put this right." And David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented: “Vocational qualifications properly prepare people not only for the work they are doing now but also help employees make a contribution to the development of their company.” Plans for VQ Day are being led by education foundation, Edge, and receive cross-political-party support. They are also supported by the wider education community including exam boards, employers’ organisations, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Learning Providers. An action pack is also available for colleges and learning providers to download from www.vqday.org in order for them to hold their own VQ Day celebrations. For more information visit www.vqday.org .
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